Video games today are extremely popular and have been for the past decade. Although it is true that millions of video games are purchased each year, it is not true that everyone who purchases one will truly enjoy it. Furthermore, among the numerous video purchases, certain games tend to sell well year after year. This project investigates beyond the purchase of a video game. It investigates the likes, dislikes, and design possibilities for a future games. It challenges students to explore several aspects of product marketing and design. Since new games will continue to be designed: What will the future designs look like? What is the common thread of each successful video? What makes a video game unsuccessful?
This project has been selected for the 6th grade and can be adapted to 5th or 7th as well. The subjects covered include mathematics and language arts. Several curriculum standards have been addressed as well. The unit length is approximately seven weeks.
Help! Video Game Manufacturers Unite! Due to poor sales of certain video games in the U.S., several top companies have merged together to make one giant company: Mega Game Inc. They have hired you to conduct a study to find the top 10 video games in the United States and use the results to suggest the future design of a video game.
A major problem (fiction but reality based) will be presented to the students which requires them to become investigative researchers. This endeavor plunges them into a corporate crisis situation about . . . video games. This problem will be shared with students through an urgent memo, distributed by the teacher. Staggering decreases in the sales of certain video games has caused the downsizing and merger of several video game companies. Schools from each state will be surveyed as to their opinions about the top video games and suggestions for the creation of the next generation of games. The challenge will provide an opportunity for students to become better educated consumers of products ( in this case, video games).
Throughout the project, student skills are assessed and evaluated through the use of four rubrics: a pre assessment rubric (to pre assess their computer skills), a duration rubric (to assess math and language skills specific to the standards), an evaluation rubric (to evaluate their presentations), and a post assessment rubric (to post assess their computer skills). Additionally, each rubric includes an explanation of points designed to simulate a possible business reaction to their effort. Students begin to determine the topic, aspects of topic, and problem of investigation through a general class discussion."Can we help this company find enough good things about video games so that they can keep making popular ones?" "Yes, we can ask other people what they think about a game." a student replies. "That sounds good, but how can we ask enough people in a short period of time for their advice?" Another student replies, "We can use the Internet." "Fantastic!" "Now, how can we ask questions in an organized manor?" Yet another student replies, "We can use a survey." "Now you're rolling!" "And how could we organize all of this wonderful information?" "We can use a table."another student replies. "Dynamite!, Let the fun begin . . ."
From this point, the teacher groups the students heterogeneously into small groups of three to four students and assigns each team their jobs. Students are brainstorming in small collaborative groups as to what questions they will ask and which schools they will survey. From time to time, team members mingle with other groups as needed to give/receive help, advice, or suggestions. Before the close of class, the teacher distributes the pre assessment rubric to students.
The next day students decide as a class which questions they will use in the survey. The teacher provides feedback for their questions. The teams progress at different stages using the following tools: computer, internet, ClarisWorks/software, hyperstudio/software (presentation/program), and power point/software (presentation/program). Weekly reporting time is provided for full class discussion.
The teacher distributes a variety of current toy store flyers and each team uses them to identify the top ten videos to discuss and record the results. The teacher coaches how to access the Internet for their student pages (The student pages have been designed to simulate a business experience. The pages consist of: an urgent memo--which describes the companies urgent situation, a specialist page--which describes specific specialist responsibilities in addition to providing a resource list of helpful links for schools and toy manufacturers/distributorsIn the case of large classes it may be nescessary to have more than one specialist work together on the same job, and rubric pages--which provide expectation levels and notes the results at each level. The students use these pages to contact other schools in the United States for their survey). Some students are contacting the other schools, while others are evaluating the flyers.
After several class meetings, an agreement is made on the survey questions. From this point, a general form is created and used by each group to e-mail their surveys. Some challenges may result from contact with other schools and the return of surveys. A challenge presented to the students requires them to design/describe a future video game based upon their findings. Assessments are made using the duration rubric.
Toward the end of the project, students are producing tally sheets, tables, charts, and/or graphs of the data that they have collected using computers. Surveys of selected schools are brought to closure. Some possible ongoing experiences have resulted in continued communication with students from other schools and video companies (that may want additional suggestions from students). Student are evaluated with the evaluation rubric. Experiences are shared with peer classes using hyperstudio or power point (An ample amount of time is needed to develop their presentation). The presentation displays the most important parts of their projects. Additionally, a presentation day is planned to display their work to parents, students, and administrators on parent visitation day or back to school night. A school web site provides their authored work. The teacher distributes the post rubric to students.