Student Newspaper Article and Final Findings

I was interviewed a few weeks ago by a student reporter from The Pendulum, the student newspaper here at Elon University. The interview dropped off my radar until just a few days ago when I noticed that an article on my efforts to develop a 3D-DGBL to teach beginning German had finally been published. The article sounds like I already have the project fully developed (which would be nice), but in actuality I’m still very much in the development phase.

I just finished the Fall 2009 semester with a final in German 321, the course I am using as a testbed to develop dialogue for the game. Although I do not have any pictures to post of the final, an important dynamic of gameplay emerged that will need to be addressed in the final game: the tension between playing the game simply to collect points and as a way to assemble cultural knowledge. Some players decided to play the game as quickly as possible (to beat the clock) and to complete the level objectives as expeditiously as possible. Although this is certainly a legitimate way to play the game, this unfortunately resulted in a superficial examination of the cultural spaces in which the game dialogue was couched. In sum, players would play fast but not go deep.

At the end of the final I theorized with the students ways to overcome this problem. We came up with the following:
  1. Award “culture points” to players who dig deep into the culture (e.g., pursuing hints dropped by NPCs about contemporary German culture or events). Through some type of algorithmic function, these culture points would improve the overall points that a player earns during the game (total points multiplied by a logarithm of culture points to increase the overall score?).
  2. Structure the level challenges so that all but one can be completed (thus preventing the player from advancing to the next level). Game resources are earned based upon player interactivity with cultural topics in the level, thus allowing the player to complete the level
Both suggestions are very good and perhaps both (or a version thereof) can be incorporated in the game as a way to encourage player interaction with sociocultural topics. This will certainly be a topic to revisit in the future. Now on to 3D model development with Blender…

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