I’d like to take a minute to share with you this case study on Gamestar Mechanic written by Peter Hall on Design Minds. Peter has been tracking the use of Gamestar in classrooms around Brisbane, Australia.
The case study does a great job of explaining what Gamestar is and how it can further systems thinking for students. There are two parts of this case study which are particularly poignant:
While Gamestar gives students many means to reflect and think critically about their work, getting students to partake in meaningful reflection is challenging “amid the seductive glow of the computer screen, truncated lesson times and distracted students.” Hall goes on to describe a shift in environment that can be a solution to this challenge: using physical games away from the smart classroom. Like Hall, I’ve observed successful courses in which students explore games through sports, board games, and word games as a counterpart to their digital game design work. Hall compares two groups of students, one who used Gamestar only, and one who mixed Gamestar with physical game activities, finding that the mixed physical and digital class had better opportunity for decision-making and discussion.
Another key point in this case study is about students excelling while using Gamestar when they otherwise are not engaged in school.
“Several teachers provide evidence of otherwise disenfranchised students suddenly becoming quite obsessive and productive when confronted with Gamestar Mechanic, empowered with their knowledge and skill to assist fellow classmates in conquering levels, collecting sprites or building games.”
I’ve also observed students who have trouble focusing, writing, or collaborating become engaged while working on game design activities, a testament that when kids are naturally passionate about a subject, they are more inclined to engage with it in an academic setting.
Thank you, Design Minds, for publishing such an interesting study on Gamestar Mechanic!