As a computer teacher at Campbell Hall, I became fascinated with the diverse capabilities of HyperCard. It served as a database, a multimedia tool with simple graphic tools and could control different types of media via scripting. It had a powerful scripting language called Hypertalk. Students could create projects ranging from simple multimedia presentations through complex game designs, using the tools embedded in HyperCard and its Hypertalk scripting language. Two students from my Junior-high class sat down to create “The Castle of Time” and “The Mystic Eye” fantasy games. Each game incorporates the study of a topic that is absolutely necessary for continuing the game. In “The Castle of Time”, players need to study about time and they cannot advance to the next step without answering the questions that relate to that subject. In “The Mystic Eye”, students encounter different obstacle to reaching the goal, which pop-up as questions on the way to the goal. If they cannot answer them, they could consult the “Lhama Library” for possible answers. The Students that designed the games reveal a high level of creativity in coming up with a fascinating plot and outstanding skills for programming Hypertalk. The research tied to each project is thorough and sophisticated.
Analysis and Appraisal:
Game design is a complex operation for adult designers as well as for kids. It contains a set of operations that fit-in together to create a sophisticated game. In developing this game, my students have conducted research, the development of a plot, character development (textual and graphical), storyboarding, programming, and testing. Yet, as difficult as it may seem, they were eager to engage in it and assume all its difficult operations. Subjects that would be difficult to introduce, if thought on their own, were easily pursued as part of the larger goal of building a game. The amount of thought and creativity that they invested in designing the game can be compared only to the highest level thinking skills required by a complex math problem. Nothing seems too difficult when students are busy pursuing their own goals and interests. Following them as they were designing their games is a real lesson of what learning is all about. They seemed focused, engaged, and highly motivated to do the work. They demonstrated collaboration and management skills as they distributed the work to fit each group member’s capabilities and learned to work as a team in putting it all together.
These game design experiences were offered as part of our computer education class. I always wished that other teachers would collaborate by helping to enrich the learning experience that is embedded in these projects. An improved game design experience would be one that students are part of a multi-disciplinary project.