I’m not sure why I tend to choose blog activities which are the most challenging (for me) of all the available options. But this week I decided to design a game; also, competitive environments turn me into a person who I don’t like to be.
I first thought to design a game to help students effectively complete their university assignments. You know, with word count progress bars, research activities, (gentle) submission timelines, built-in rewards and breaks. But then I thought: 1. Boring; and 2. Not big enough.
I mean sure, you could have fun with a first-person, quest-type re-imagining of an assignment task. Pick your avatar, choose your goals and be guided through the steps required to complete your work (for some reason I imagine an elf in a Robin Hood outfit, wandering in a forest). Game designer, I am not.
But then I wondered what would happen if there was literally a game to assist with university orientation? I know these activities are already somewhat gamified, but what if the experience was made entirely virtual? Both on- and off-campus student would be able to undertake a shared experience, which would assist them learn about the facilities and supports available when starting uni. Still boring, but more relevant. And potentially really fun.
Target Group: University students (obviously). Primarily, but not necessarily, first years and new students.
Aim: To guide students on a virtual tour of facilities available. This can include: the library, student services, advocacy, bookshop, enrolment help. The exploration would be virtual, with a focus on knowing where to find information when they need it later.
Overview of Rules: Well… I might need to get back you you on this one. Tasks will be set for gamers to complete, and prizes will be awarded (real life prizes!). No activity allowed which conflicts with the university’s code of conduct.
I envisage a first-person quest-type game (obviously I have a fixation). Students will need to learn more about the university in order to complete the ‘quest’. Campuses can be explored virtually, within the game, thus familiarising off-campus students with the physical environment (but not too familiar due to paranoid security concerns). Information discovered will relate to services which will be of use to students as they complete their studies (including the boring ones). Incentives offered for completing tasks will be similar to traditional on-campus orientation incentives (read: free stuff).
Prizes and exciting avatars will make the process more appealing to students, and I’ll throw in a leaderboard to make things more interesting. The game will be open to all students, but students will only be competing with their own cohort (eg first years, or first year Bachelor of Commerce students). Metadata all the way.
Will students flock to play my game? Probably not but with my unlimited budget I’ll market it widely, spam them with emails and emphasise the prizes and LOTR quest-like features. Only time will tell whether it will be successful.