A Journey Through Technology

Week 8: Which aspects of story and game mechanics will be useful in your class and how might you use them?

on October 27, 2016

This week I read through Chapters 6 & 7 in Matera’s Explore Like a Pirate. As I’ve been thinking more about how I will gamify my classes, mainly Chemistry and Forensics, I’ve been toying with the story for my game, and the different mechanics and how they might work in both of my classes. The story of my game is the first thing I wanted to get worked out before moving too far in my gamification journey. “Choosing a theme is the first step in gamification and will set the tone for the lesson, unit, or even the year ahead.” (Matera, 2015, Kindle location 1014) For my chemistry class, I have been working on a story that deals with futuristic space travel for the purpose of saving Earth. The setting, “where all parts of the story come together”(Matera, 2015, Kindle location 1029), will be a space shuttle that carries students to different planets throughout the year. As I work on my story, I’m sure other aspects will fall into place, but in addition to the story, I also need to figure out which mechanics I will use.

Matera says that, “These mechanics work together to build a custom experience that, when combined, lead to memorable moments in your class.” (Matera, 2015, Kindle location 1172) Matera also says that the goal of a good game designer is to “provide a rich game world that includes something for everyone.” (Matera, 2015, Kindle location 1187).

The first game mechanic that Matera mentions is Experience Points (XP). “In most games, experience points act as a measure of how well the player has mastered the game.” (Experience Points and Gamified Learning, 2016) Matera (2015) describes XP as a way of measuring the progress is making through a role-playing game. This is one game mechanic I plan on using in my classroom, and it fits nicely with the next mechanic Matera mentions, Levels. It’s important to note that Matera states that it is worthless to use XP or Levels alone, however they work quite well together.

“Levels indicate a player’s position or rank. A level can also refer to a player’s current stage in the game.” (Matera, 2015, Kindle location 1225) In conjunction with XP, I plan on having students earn levels to track their progress through the game. At this point, I am thinking of a military level scheme, to go with my storyline, and the goal for students is to make to the highest rank by the end of the game/school year. Another advantage to using levels is “With levels, your learners can easily see their current progress and what they need to do to progress.” (10 Game Mechanics You Should Know About, n.d.) To show students their progress, I also plan on using Leaderboards.

“Leaderboards show the standings for players or groups and can report both their local and global rank.” (Matera, 2015, Kindle location 1258) Using a leaderboard will allow be to show students’ rankings within their own class period, and also with all classes together. I also plan on ranking the groups within each class period, and comparing all groups together. “As soon as you show everybody where they rank against each other, a curious thing happens – their engagement levels go through the roof!” (10 Game Mechanics You Should Know About, n.d.) I am hoping that by showing students where they rank compared to each other, they will become motivated to do better in class.

Guilds are another mechanic that Matera mentions, and I am thinking about using this idea as well. A guild is essentially a grouping of students that provides an opportunity for students to collaborate and work together occasionally within the game. I am considering the terms “unit” or “battalion”, as they fit with the military-rank theme I am working with right now. There are a variety of ways the groups can be organized, and I would probably reorganize the groups 4 times per year, or once per quarter.

There are so many game mechanics that can be used to gamify a classroom, and I am sure I will be using more than these three as my gamification plan evolves over time. I don’t want to get too overwhelmed to start, so these three mechanics will be my main focus for the initial implementation of my gamified classroom.


10 Game Mechanics You Should Know About. (n.d.) Retrieved October 26, 2016, from http://www.growthengineering.co.uk/how-to-boost-learner-engagement-using-game-mechanics/

Experience Points and Gamified Learning: A practical guide. (2016). Retrieved October 26, 2016, from http://www.growthengineering.co.uk/experience-points-and-gamified-learning/

Matera, M. (2015). Explore Like a Pirate: Engage, enrich, and elevate your learners with gamification and game-inspired course design [Kindle Edition].

2 responses to “Week 8: Which aspects of story and game mechanics will be useful in your class and how might you use them?

  1. gkkapatak01 says:

    Sarah K- You are off to a great start to gamifying your classroom. I have yet to choose a theme; and like we read, it is the first step in the process. I want something that is similar to Class Dojo for my class (k-1). I like your idea of a space ship and traveling to different planets, very creative! I’m looking forward to reading more about your progress!


  2. tmerculief says:

    Sarah- That sounds like a great start to your unit! I like this what you quoted here, Matera says that, “These mechanics work together to build a custom experience that, when combined, lead to memorable moments in your class.” This is what we want for our students. I wonder about showing the ranks in class. If a student is not doing well, I wonder how that would make them feel. I know some will be motivated but some it may discourage them. What do you think?


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