Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Games and Incentives in Instructional Design

Now is a good time to reflect on my experience with the Goblin program.  I have come to the conclusion that the lessons of Goblin are most likely to influence my design of incentive and grading systems for my classes.  I am not as likely to try to teach large sections of my course through games (though I still hold out some hope for the design of simulations and roleplaying exercises).

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Failure Rates in Game Tone and Instructional Design

This week's material for the Goblin teaching workshop has been on "overcoming failure."  I was not able to attend the workshop in person this week but will focus on the video material and my general reactions to issues related to failure rates for game and instructional design.

The videos focused on the value of failure as a constructive activity.  This certainly fits with my previous experience as a debate coach and my professional life.  The best high school debate students I worked with were those who could try new things, fail occasionally, and learn from the failures.  In my professional career, I have experienced more rejections (for articles) than acceptances.  I heard second hand that Gary King -- a prominent figure in my field -- tells his students that he can paper his walls with rejection letters.  Everyone just assumes that the most prominent figures don't experience much rejection.  However, failure is part of the job.

The videos notes that failure is a common part of video games.  I have fond memories of the example included in the example of failing (again and again) at Super Mario Brothers (NES).  I remember many, many days of failing at Castlevania until I finally could beat it.  Failure was not an impediment to fun -- it may have been part of it.  Steady progress to new kinds of failure seemed productive.  This links the issue of failure to the previous discussion of learning/difficulty curves.  If the rate of failure is too high, it can become frustrating.  If the rate of failure is too low, boredom will follow and there is little reason to invest effort.

This fundamental discussion has interesting implications for gaming and instructional design.