G-FMS Curriculum Development Journal – July 15, 2013

July 15, 2013

This day was scheduled as a production day for the Hive to develop further iterations of the latest game concepts. The math group began developing a playable version of their planet fractions game which they call Planetary Pioneers. The team developed a narrative to set up the game which follows:

Scientists have failed in finding a replacement for [fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=”yes” overflow=”visible”][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”][the ecologically failing] Earth and have resorted to terra-forming and creating their own. Their objective is to form a new solar system with planets that require a specific ratio of compounds.

Amara Dioubate joined Elijah and Chris to create the game assets, and by the end of the afternoon the planetary slices and custom die were allowing them to playtest the game with reasonably satisfactory results. Issues primarily involved the game being too fast and lasting only two or three rounds.

The Science team went to work on building a playable iteration of the Scientific Method game and began focusing on a game where players would be blindly assigned an organism that they would be required to assemble an environment for. The player would be unaware of which organism they were assigned, but the other players would know. Players would trade environment cards with and/or answer questions posed by one another to develop hypothesis about their organism and develop a full theory as to its identity. Players would not be able to present their theories until the proposed environment was constructed.

The initial mechanics were slightly complex, and the gathering of data was very time consuming, so that by the end of the afternoon a playable version was not accomplished. I assembled the hive together to begin helping Dylan and Kidany, and as we discussed the game it became evident to me that the expansiveness of the game would end up being problematic for our application. A primary issue involved the fact that any number of questions could be asked, and so especially without some form of awareness to animal classification, this game would be difficult for our beginning science students and also take a great deal of time to play.

We went back to the 20 questions model and started looking at what the traditional refining questions were after one had identified animal, rather than mineral or vegetable, as one’s subject.

We listed out the following points:

  • Food Consumption
  • Reproduction
  • Class
  • Locomotion
  • Nocturnal or not
  • Whether the animal hibernates
  • Their means of respiration
  • Outer membrane
  • Social Behavior
  • Endangered or not
  • Means of observing the world
  • Size
  • Warm or cold blooded
  • These can all be queried in yes or no questions, and that was deemed of importance in the game. But the focus in the game on the development of the environment, which Dylan felt very attached to, struck me as overcomplicating the process of discovering the animal’s identity. It could easily be one of the question points, but I felt that having to build the environment felt like a separate game – or perhaps a future mode of the game.

    I must stress here that the game mechanics of building a set of tiles while delivering queries about a hypothesis on the way to developing a theory was effective. The narrative was too complicated.

    It being the end of the day and everyone getting hungry and ready to wrap up, this was not necessarily the thing our science team wanted to hear. We closed shop for the day and elected to bring this back to the table first thing in the morning in order to have play-testable or demonstrable concept for noon when the professors would join us.

    Interestingly in the car ride home, Dylan and I had time to mull over our issues with the game and he suggested having a more Rummy like mechanic building a set of cards representing the animal’s habitat, locomotion, sustenance, exterior membrane, and primary means of observation. We brainstormed for over an hour and when we arrived home quickly sat down to write the following description:

    Players will still be dealt an organism card, which only their opponents can read, and which they work to identify as a victory condition. They will be asking their opponents questions in order to identify what they are, and they will form these questions in specific dictated language.

    I have observed ____________ , _____________ , _____________ , (etc.) and so I hypothesize that my animal has (insert characteristic or attribute here).

    Instead of tiles, we use a set of cards which will represent primary attributes of various animals such as locomotion, sustenance, exterior membrane, primary means of observation, and habitat. So in the case of a tiger the representative hand a player should seek to hold will involve paws, carnivore, fur, scent, and forest or grassland. Cards will be dealt in hands of five, and players will pick from and discard to central piles. These will be a draw pile and a discard strip where players may see all discarded cards. Players must maintain a hand of five cards while playing a gin rummy like game to get a set representing their animal.

    In a given turn a player may:
    1. Pick a card from the draw pile and discard one of their now six cards into the discard pile.
    2. Ask any single opponent a question to help them identify their animal. For example the player may query, “I have observed that my animal is an omnivore and so I hypothesize that it is a mammal.”

    Their opponent will consult the player’s identity card and answer simply either: “Yes, you have four legs,” or “No you do not have four legs.”

    • In the case of a Yes, the player may pick any card from the discard strip. They will then discard an unwanted card from their hand to the end of the strip.
    • In the case of a No, the opponent will draw a card at random from the player’s hand and replace it with a card of their own from their now six card hand.

    Players may ask questions of an opponent that represent our 11 point list and/or anything else deemed pertinent to their hypothesis. They may not repeat or invert a question.

    If there is any dissent or confusion with regard to how to answer a question, outside sources such as the Internet, a textbook, or a teacher may be accessed. Any discussion must be clandestine in order to keep the player in the dark.

    Once a player feels they know what animal they are they must first assure that they have a representative hand, and then on their turn pose a statement of theory to their opponents. They will say:

    I have proven that my animal has the following characteristics: ________________, ________________ , ___________________ , (etc.) and so therefore present my theory that it is a ________________________.

    If they are correct they win the game. If they are incorrect they lose their turn, and game play continues.

    We e.mailed the rest of the Hive our concept and started in on a very late night dinner.[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]

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