Using ‘Trial and Error’ to Devise Effective Instructional Strategies for the Gamer Generation

This weekend I played the demo version of the game called Wedding Dash, very similar to the game, Diner Dash.

Surprisingly all these games follow the same logic yet provide variety.

Coming to the game Wedding Dash, I shall use this game to explain the concept of trail and error that Professor Kapp mentions as one of the gamer generation’s learning style in his book Gadgets, Games and Gizmos for Learning.

As I played some 4 or 5 levels of this game, I realized how right Professor Kapp is in pointing out that gamers learn through trail and error which is a sure way to acquire problem solving skills.

As Professor Kapp says “It is not like a real-life soccer game where if you touch the ball with your hand in the penalty box the other team gets a free kick and your team risks losing the game because of your mistake. If you mess up in a video game, you just start over. If you do really poorly, don’t save the results. Press the Reset button and start over. If you try hard enough, you’ll eventually beat the level. This resilience means that gamers are willing to take a chance to see what happens. They don’t have to get everything right the first time.”

As I got started with the game Wedding Dash, I browsed through the storyline of the game and then I hit a screen (shows level 1.9 of the game) as below, where I was given a goal to complete.

Note: Click the image to view a clearer version

1.gif

As you can guess my role was that of a wedding planner who had to plan the wedding to the customer’s satisfaction.

As I was about to begin with the my task, thats is level 1 of the game, I had to remember the customer requirements and make my choices accordingly as shown in the following screen. (please note the screenshot shows level 1.9 of the game)

2.gif

Probably I was a bit too anxious to remember the customer requirements or I was yet to get accustomed to the task, whatever the reason may be one of the choices I made turned out to be wrong, something as shown in the screen below.

3.gif

The feedback certainly consoled me. It gave me the hope that I would get all three right the next time.

The actual game then began.

4.gif

As you might have guessed, the objective of this game is to serve the guests so that they enjoy the wedding as a result of which the wedding might turn out to be memorable for the newly wed.

As you play the first level, the game is easy. The game runs in a logical order.

  • You click on the guest and make him/her sit.
  • Next you collect the gift and hand it over to the newly wed.
  • Then you serve starters, followed by the main course and the dessert.

It’s as simple as that.

Well the game is not as simple actually. As you proceed, the level of complexity actually increases. You need to pay attention to the demands of the guest as you serve them with speed. Guests keep coming in and the demand for food happens at a time.

You are likely to get too confused when you reach level 1.9. I actually got confused and kept clicking randomly as a result of which I was not able to reach my target for that level.

Well, thanks to the game developers, I didn’t have to start all over again. I got a chance to play the level again. This time I had a strategy in my mind since I had already played that level and knew where I went wrong.

I planned well and knew how to go about reaching my target. I learnt that I could simultaneously serve two guests as in collect two gifts at a time and as I deliver the gifts to the newly wed, I could as well collect the starters and serve the guests. This would save time and would help me serve the guest in a faster way.

Lo! I cleared the level. As I played further I found my way through different challenges the game posed.

I was actually amazed at my problem solving skills and my confidence level increased tremendously. My motivation to play the game heightened.

If I had had to start the game all over again or if the game had ended then and there where I made the mistake, my motivation levels would have gone down and I would not have felt so satisfied as I feel today.

Let’s now rack our brains and find out how such gaming strategies can be applied to e-Learning too.

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3 Responses

  1. Good one!!

  2. My dad works for playfirst and he and my mom are one of the couples in the higher levels.

  3. Hi Dan

    It’s really nice to hear that your dad works for Playfirst. I love Playfirst games 🙂

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