G-FMS Curriculum Development Journal – August 4th -7th, 2013

August 4th -7th, 2013

Over the course of these production days, the Hive worked feverishly to develop playable versions of our initial game concepts in a finished format that included clear and well-written instructions. Several of the games now had completed video overviews, and PDF versions of the design elements so that we would be able to place these online at the G-FMS website upon our return. The latest iteration, all its physical elements, and instructions now sat in clearly labeled plastic containers along a wall of the living room.

By the evening of the 7th we had developed finished versions of:

    Argyle: the Number-Line Game – Along with a overview video description

    Double Cross: the Rounding Game – Along with an overview video description

    I’ve Got a Theory: the Biology module

We had also near complete versions of:

    Planetary Pioneers: the Fraction Game with Instruction cards and key still in production
    Take the Field: the Cartesian Plotting Game – This lacked only a final board design
    Space Station Chemistry – This still needed a clear instruction set, central board elements, and finalized tiles to be designed
    Math Farm: Math as a Second Language Game – This still needed its circular cards designed and produced
    Labyrinthine: the Archaeology of a Cell – Board elements and cards in production

The Concept designs had been completed and initial iterations developed for:

    Zombie Genome: the Mendelian Box Game
    Sleeper Cell: the Periodic Table Cryptography Game
    I’ve Got a Theory: Chemistry Module

All in all eleven games designed for specific student needs relating to clearly defined SLOs identified by faculty actually teaching the targeted courses. Whew!

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Chazy Neighbors Monica and Ken Emery Playtest Double Cross

Chazy Neighbors Monica and Ken Emery Playtest Double Cross

The team’s rhythm involved playtesting concepts after a morning meeting, building elements and designs in the afternoon, converging to brainstorm and critique concepts around dinner, and having a more laid back combination of hanging out, playing, and brainstorming in the evenings. Neighbors might step in at any minute and be inducted into an impromptu playtest, a game might be brought up that several of us had never heard of or played, and play might erupt out of nowhere. The place was papered with to do lists, strewn with projects in the midst of construction, and all being as well documented as the royal baby.

It was very exciting to be a part of.

The 7th, in particular was extremely productive, as Waleska put the finishing touches on the video for Double Cross with particular aplomb, Chris and Elijah wrapped up Planetary Pioneers with a fun and engaging playtest that the team thoroughly enjoyed. Kidany and Rocio playtested the Labyrinthine game which took far too much time to play and had multiple issues disrupting any meaningful play. I sat down with them and we parsed out the various assets that were involved. We broke them down to:

    • A six sided die to determine movement around a board
    • Evolving Labyrinth board with chambers which revolve during play
    • Nucleus Cell Recipe Card drawn at the outset
    • Artifact Cell Elements randomly assigned at the beginning of each game to individual chambers of the board
    • Action Cards provide opportunities to:

o Revolve a chamber another player is in to thwart their movement toward a goal (or aid them)
o Revolve a chamber the card holder occupies to help them move toward a goal
o Uncover a secret passage to another chamber
o Extend a roll by one space forward or backward

The interplay of these assets had been evolving and changing for several days, and at this point reconvening and organizing the asset interplay was just what the doctor ordered. The three of us brainstormed the topic until a more workable agreement of their interplay was worked out, and then Kidany and Rocio playtested the new version with greater success.

Later, as Kidany began designing the elements of the Labyrinthine, Rocio and I began brainstorming with Chris about the Punnett Square for figuring Mendelian crosses. We came up with a hair-brained zombie game that involves teams of players acting out the role of botanists racing against time to breed certain zombie repellent plants from a recessive gene in parent plants.

Still trying to work out how this might be played, we circumvented the bottleneck of specifics and just jumped to another game concept (perhaps the fourth pot of coffee of the day was to blame). We began discussing the Alien Periodic Table game that Professor Fernandez had given us as an ideal way to learn the characteristics of the table’s construction. The game as it was laid out in his textbook felt more like a veiled quiz to the Hive, and so we began conceiving of an original game.

First we broke down the primary coding systems of the periodic table (atomic #, Atomic Mass, physical state at room temperature) and began developing cryptographic codes for messages that players of a game might work with. We developed three code systems – one according to the atomic weight with 0-1 represented in the initial positions of the table, followed by the letters of the alphabet. We developed a similar system with atomic mass replacing atomic number, and then worked out a final code involving the abbreviations for the elements.

The concept we developed is that of a social game where teams of players represent on of several groups in a narrative. These include:

    • Terrorist Sleeper Cell
    • Secret Service Team
    • Members of the Press
    • Double Agents
    • Anarchist Bloggers

Each team will be aware of its own identity, but will not know those of the other teams. They will each receive a succession of instructions dictating specific social behaviors that the team must embrace… these could be as subtle as dictating posture, but as involved as to direct scripted scenes between players.

Teams will also receive clues, which they need to use our code systems to decipher, that will help them to discern what team is the sleeper cell, and which teams represent the other groups. The clues when used in conjunction with observation of team behaviors will eventually make each team’s identity obvious. The game has a specific number of rounds, however, and unless the sleeper cell is identified within the time allotted, they will infiltrate the other teams and win the game.

The team feels this game will be an excellent collaborative team building exercise and familiarize players with the overarching construct of the periodic table in a deep and meaningful way.

Meanwhile, we still have a handful of SLOs to address before the spring semester, however. In our last meeting with the faculty we drew up a list including the following unaddressed issues/SLOs:

    • Ratios
    • Sequencing
    • Venn Diagram
    • Truth Table
    • The balancing of elements

o Oxidation
o Stability of compounds
o Reactions proportions

Addressing these will be a focus of the Fall term Game Lab team. [/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]


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Eugenio María de Hostos Community College
500 Grand Concourse, Bronx, New York 10451