Notes on Gaming – Week One

If I want to pay attention to how gaming plays out in my instruction then I have to start taking notes. The easiest way (I think) for me to do this is to take notes every day that it is relevant to do so. Each Friday  I will post these notes for you to see. I am a bit behind the ball in starting this which means that this first report is more of a summary across days in a spot or two. Additionally, I am not confident there will be notes to share on 8/7 or 8/14. The first class starts 8/18, and Friday notes will for sure be a regular thing from 8/21 on.

Friday, July 24th

I decide to send out my syllabus to both classes. I explain to both that the syllabus is pretty stable but that I might make some more modifications to it before the first day of class. I have the (not so) Secret Page up and running (see this coming Monday’s post for what this page is about). I sit back and wait to see what happens. Nothing happens.

Saturday, July 25th- Tuesday, July 28th

I wake up to a few emails. Some people in both classes have caught on! By Tuesday, July 28th, four people across two classes have signed up for Schoology. Three are from Explorations and one is from Content Area Literac y (CAL). In addition, by Tuesday the Teacher’s Pet badge has been claimed in both classes. Other badges I have awarded include PI Lover, Awesome Commentor, Deep Reader, and Keeper of Secrets.

I have created a google document for each student as they come on to the game. It shows what badge they earned, the date it was earned, and achievement points earned. There is room for XP/quests, but that’s not applicable now. I share the document with each student and set it to view only mode. I am already concerned with keeping up with everything, but I think I will get it under control at the start of the semester. Right now, people are popping into the game haphazardly. Once everyone is in the system I am hopeful I will be able to track things without feeling overwhelmed.

I have also changed grading. I’ll need to do a blog post on this, but I have given students two paths to earning their XP/Grades. They can go a traditional route where I have mapped out what they need to do and when it’s all due in order to get a grade OR they can design their own path. There is room for both.

I did some more reading and learned that in some cases, gamed classes are structured so that when students Level Up they earn Skillz. I haven’t blogged about this yet, but basically, the way I have it set up, is that Achievement Points + XP = A Certain Level. I had stopped there. Now I went in and added some Skillz. For example, when you reach Level 1, you can add 100 XP to any quest at any time (but only once). I need help thinking about what Skills should be added, and I may get student input on this.

Finally, I have shut down the (not so) Secret Page for both classes as of Tuesday. There were three achievements that could only be claimed before the first day of class. One of these was buried in the syllabus, but the other two you wouldn’t know about unless you lucked out (signing up for Schoology and PI before the first day of class). Once all three had been conquered by at least one person – didn’t have to be the same person – I put the page in Hidden Mode. It will stay in Hidden Mode for a bit.

Wednesday, July 29th

Last night, a student sent me an email with this question:

I had a question if we could possibility be able to donate or share our points at any point during the semester if someone has an emergency or in need of them?


I clarified and learned she was referring to Achievement Points and not XP.  The following is a general summary of my response to her:

Yes – I think we can do that. I talked to someone who is not in  the field of education but big into gaming. He also found your idea very interesting. His suggestion was to make it not be a direct exchange. For example, for every five points you give the receiver only gets one – so some kind of ratio. I think I’m going to do that – set it up so it’s not a one-to-one exchange. I’m also going to only make it accessible once you reach a certain level. It’ll go in on the Level Up page. So once you reach Level X, you would have the ability to give someone achievement points one time IF you wanted to.

You do know that you can – if you want – earn more XP – way more XP – than is needed for an H [an H is the university’s equivalent to an A at the graduate level. I have no understanding of how they thought this up]. Theoretically, you could earn enough XP that you could give some away and still maintain an H no problem.
What would you think about having the option to give away a small number of XP? It really has the potential to completely blow apart how we think about grades – but not necessarily in a bad way.
So, currently, I am leaning towards a yes on giving away Achievement Points but remain unsure about giving away XP. The XP giveaway is open for discussion.
Thursday, July 30th
The discussion about giving away XP has been tabled. The email exchange ended with my student writing. My student needs more information and help about understanding the whole system including XP and grades before going any further. It’s an in class discussion event.
I did make a decision about Achievement Points. When students reach a certain ;level, and have a certain amount of Achievement Points, then they earn the right to give away those points if they want to. However, I placed s 10% tax on doing so. If you want to give away 500 points, the receiver can get 450. The 50 taken away from taxes will go into some sort of community pot. That’s my current thinking at least. I am allowing students to give away points to anyone in either class.
Then today I got an email from a student which read:
I just got the Deep Reader Achievement and I am SO excited for the semester! I’m still reading over the wiki…
Gotta go finish reading now.  I’ve completely opened my mind for this course, and I get pretty competitive, so I truly hope everyone buys in!
This is a great sign! I know people will range in terms of how competitive they are. Bartle has his theory of different player types as it applies to Multi-User Dungeon games. That won’t likely apply here, but I think the idea that there are different types of personalities who will have different types of gaming aspects appeal/not appeal to them is important.

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