Level design, learning, and assessment

Remember that time you failed?Normally when my brain cross-links game design and education, I try to temper my enthusiasm by remembering that I like to relate nearly everything to games at some point, somehow, and not everyone else has this disease.  But I can’t let this one go.

I’m going to attempt to write about difficulty in game design then talk a bit about the Super Meat Boy design process, namely when it comes to how we approached dealing with difficulty. …

Dealing with difficulty is one of the key challenges I face every time I bring a math lesson into my classroom.  This kind of design analysis gets my attention.

I’ll skip over drawing comparisons to the history of platformer design and the history of mathematics education, but the parallels are there, at least in the caricatured form you hear when teachers gripe.  (“…back before the make-it-fun-and-easy crowd got a hold of the curriculum”, etc)

How could we make a seemingly aggravatingly difficult game into something fun that the player could get lost in?

This is what I can’t let go. This is the question I stare down when I start to question how I’m presenting that next lesson.  This is the question that makes me rethink what I’m doing when I’m writing the next big unit test.

Go, read the article if you haven’t yet.  Then come back.

It’s when I start to look at the solution to the design problem that I suspect Edmund McMillen has it easier than we do in the classroom.

Here are the key points to summarize:

  1. Keep it small.
  2. Keep the action constant.
  3. Reward success.
  4. Extend the challenge as people master the basics.

How many of these could be applied to the classroom to improve things?  Where does it break down?  (I’ve got some ideas but let’s get some discussion going in the comments first.)


One thought on “Level design, learning, and assessment

  1. Pingback: Back to that whole game design / teaching thing | josh g.’s notes

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