By Dolly Rairigh Glass
About three and a half years ago, at the conclusion of the 2012 Serious Games Showcase & Challenge (SGS&C), the SGS&C integrated product team (IPT) leads initiated a conversation with Orange County Public Schools (OCPS) and proposed a partnership — one that would expand the makeup of the evaluation panel to include OCPS students, and the introduction of the Students’ Choice Award.
The partnership has continued to grow with each year, and as the SGS&C is preparing for the incoming 2016 game submissions, and welcoming a set of finalists for the 2016 Interservice/Industry Training, Simulation and Education Conference (I/ITSEC), there is still a lot of excitement surrounding the 2015 games.
Last month, OCPS’ Liberty Middle School was part of that excitement, and invited SGS&C to participate in their STEM Night.
Brian Chan, a UCF student and member of the all-volunteer IPT for SGS&C, officially represented SGS&C at the event, and showcased three 2015 finalist games: The Mars Game by Lockheed Martin Systems & Training, Touching Triton by HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology, and Particle in a Box: The Quantum Mechanics Game by Georgia Institute of Technology.
“Spending time in a middle school classroom as an instructor was a new and interesting experience for me,” said Chan. “It was nice to see that the students were both responsive and interested in playing the games, even though some had already had the opportunity to play the games previously [when Liberty Middle participated in the 2015 SGS&C evaluation]. But this time, they were using the time to play the games they didn’t get to play the first time around.”
Chan said that all three games elicited different reactions from the players. For instance, it seemed to him that Touching Triton was a bit too difficult for the middle school age group, however he did notice one of the parents enjoying the game and walking their student through it.
Particle in a Box kept their interest until they neared the end of the game where the level of difficulty increased. This lost students’ interest and at that point, they mostly started clicking through everything, explained Chan.
“Although most kids got stuck once they entered the algebra portion of the Mars Game that involved graphing,” said Chan, “it had very positive reactions and attracted people who seemed to grasp the concepts pretty quickly, despite having no understanding of programming.”
This type of student feedback is exactly the kind of information that game developers want and need to know. And they know that if you want the truth, ask a kid, because they are honest — and without reservation — will share their feelings.