December 15, 2010

How to Create a Game

Posted by Dr. Laura Guertin

A recent Penn State Teaching and Learning with Technology post on How to create a game for your Penn State course (hint: it’s not as hard as you think) reminds me of the fun I’ve had working on a game with the guys in the Educational Gaming Commons on a game we’ve created as part of my TLT Faculty Fellow Project.  (OK, full disclosure – all credit goes to TK Lee and Jason Wolfe for the discovery and code altering)

TK found this Google Earth API Example called Geo Whiz.  This game allows the user to move around in a Google Earth interface to navigate to a list of 15 geographic destinations.  The user has a “square” he/she must move over the global location, but only has a certain amount of time to do so.  The user scores points for successfully navigating the square over the correct location.

But here’s the modifications we are implementing – adding the Google Earth navigation compass, country boundaries, listing locations of my choosing, and adding a tracking feature that records where students are moving the square to as they try to navigate to the location.

And we have a new name!  We call it Penn State’s Amazing Race!

Why the changes?  The new improvements allow me to see where the students think a particular city/country is located, how long it takes them to find the location (if they do), and I can customize the list of locations that match to locations I am covering in my course.  Since improving student geographic literacy is one of my course goals, I can use this game as a pre- and post-survey in my course to assess where students stand with basic geographic locational knowledge coming into and leaving my course.

Games can add to a course – need to think about how to add more games….

To learn more about the Penn State Amazing Race, check out the following paper:

Lee, T.K., Guertin, L.A. (2012). Building an educational game with the Google Earth Application Program Interface to enhance geographic literacy. In: S. Whitmeyer, J. Bailey, D. De Paor, T. Ornduff (Eds.), Geological Society of America Special Paper 492: Google Earth, Virtual Globes, and Virtual Visualizations: Modern Approaches to Geoscience Inquiry and Research. Colorado: Geological Society of America, 395-402. (abstract)