The Realm of Nobles is the name for my sixth grade World History course. The back-story that is unfolding for the students is that the Realm’s king has died, and each house is striving for the throne. Each class period represents one of these houses: Aleria, Remal, Torin, and Zemar. The country is in turmoil, and with every house looking for glory and a chance to be master of the realm, one must be careful.
Each house is comprised of four guilds. These guilds are small bands of citizens who work together to help not only themselves but also their house.
Citizens earn glory and prestige as they move through each unit in World History. Along the way they will face many difficulties such as battling with Ramses at Qadesh, testing their minds on the Imperial Examination in China, and holding back the Persian hordes in ancient Greece. Each challenge brings an opportunity for glory to each house and citizen. During these quests, citizens can discover items, gain new skills, and uncover lost mysteries. The Realm is in chaos. It is no place to wander off alone. Working in their guilds and helping their houses they hope to bring peace to the land and glory to themselves.
Building a Game System
My game system or environment is set up to encourage personal growth and status by propelling your house to the throne. Each student (citizen) earns XP (Experience Points) in many ways throughout the Realm. When building your game system you must take several things into account.
- What is the length of your game?
- Year long game like the Realm of Nobles or just used for one unit? This will help you set the pace for progress within your environment.
- How many points/badges you need for new levels?
- How do you want people to progress?
- Badge model – Earn so many badges to level up and earn privileges as you move up.
- XP model – So many XP earns you new levels and abilities/privileges.
- Combination of both models. This is the one I use! This offers the greatest flexibility when writing a yearlong storyline.
- Theme or Storyline…
- Simply the hardest part of gamification is rolling up your sleeves and starting to build a theme.
- While a theme is not needed, it is one element that really draws students into your game environment. The more they are drawn in, the more they care about the outcomes.
- Don’t feel like you need to tell the entire story. Kids are very creative, and will fill in the gaps for you.
- If you choose to have no theme at first that is ok. Themes can box you in, but they can also help generate ideas.
- To be Transparent or Not… That is the question?
- If you’re modeling the game world, which students are familiar with, students will be more comfortable with ambiguity then you will be as a teacher. I urge you to keep a level of mystique about your game. Games tell a story, and allow the world to be discovered and explored. In school we are used to answering questions and trying to remove all confusion. Within a game students are forced to discover the world around them. As players, they strive to earn greater power, and continue to tackle greater challenges within the game. This is what you want to happen within you class. Allow them the chance to explore your game environment.
When building your class game, theme is important. As I stated it is simply one of the hardest things to wrap your head around, especially if you are doing a yearlong game. I encourage you to take time and think of a theme that works for both you and your students. When building gamification into one unit this will still be an important consideration.
When initially discussing gamification with other teachers, many said they would like the summer to plan everything out before they would start. One hope for this series of posts on gamification is to encourage teachers to start doing this and start doing this now. Don’t worry if you don’t have your entire environment planned out at the start. Move ahead and plan on building as you go. I have come up with things I would never imagined at the start of the year. As we move though class content and students get excited about certain things, new game elements easily emerge. So what are you waiting for? Start building!
In part III of this series we will be discussing how to grade and assess in gamification. Please stop back to see more on how to bring your classroom to life.
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