Author: Samantha Clarke 17th June 2016
Reblogged from Serious Games Life
For those of you who have already read the motivation and breakdown of the escapED philosophy and its framework found in this post: escapED Framework , you may know that I was planning on running an exploratory prototype with some EEC, Coventry University staff members at their Innovation Day. We wanted to test the approach of escapED really quickly, a rapid prototype if you will, to see if it had any legs at all and whether this was an idea that we could take and develop further. Well, we did it and we now have the results. We also have an awesome video that shows off some of the video footage of the prototype that can be found here: escapED Promo.
What we did:
We developed a prototype experience of escapED that was created for Coventry University staff members with backgrounds in engineering and computing in mind. The educational objective of the prototype was for players to develop soft skills such as communication, leadership and teamwork throughout their experience. The central theme of the prototype was created to produce feelings of action and threat within the players, and the overall main player objectives were to free a hostage and disarm a bomb. Riddles, puzzles and communication tasks were then developed within this theme to fit the needs of the proposed educational content, the overall player learning objectives and their soft skills development.
On the day of the event, members of staff signed up to time slots and were put into teams no larger than 6 players. 3 teams participated in the game, with an overall total of 13 players taking part in the event. Each event lasted around 30 minutes, 10 minutes for introduction and rules, and 20 minutes for the game. A key feature of the design of the prototype was that the teams were split into two groups and placed into two adjoining rooms. One room held the bomb, and the other held the hostage. Riddles and clues were then split between the two rooms and relied on the communication of the players to describe and put the pieces together from both rooms. Players were not allowed to go between rooms and could only communicate via two laptops that were connected to Skype, of which one was assigned to each room. Players could not move or touch the laptops, but could bring clues and puzzles to the laptop to show their teammates based in the other room. A first year drama student was employed to play the part of the hostage and to provide time awareness and clues to the players throughout the game. Most of the players were not aware/had not heard of Escape Room games before the event.
All players were observed by myself via a connection to Skype, and were monitored to observe player engagement and progress within the game. Each team was observed to display a similar method of entering and familiarising themselves with the room, displaying conservative behaviour but quickly figuring out where the laptops were placed and whether the other room could hear them. All players of each of the three teams displayed a high level of engagement throughout the experience, although this diminished somewhat when the players knew they had less than a minute left to complete the room. One team, was observed to develop a strategy in which they had a designated main communicator who would be responsible for relaying the information to the other room. None of the teams successfully completed the room, however a prize was offered to the team that came closest to completing the challenge.
We collected some results that were more focused around how the staff members perceived the game. Did they find it enjoyable? Would they consider using it as a method for teaching in their lessons? Essentially I wanted to know whether or not the people who would be responsible for implementing escapED into a teaching practice, the facilitators, had any interest whatsoever in these methods of game-based learning. What we found was very exciting, even as a small-scale study with limited participants.
After the experience, each player was asked to fill in a short feedback sheet that asked four exploratory questions about their experience and perceptions of escapED that are detailed below:
- Do you think escapED has any educational value?
- Would you consider using the escapED program in your lesson plan?
- What was good about the escapED prototype session?
- What could we improve?
From the 13 participant players, a total of 8 feedback sheets were returned with all questions answered. Members who did not complete participant sheets were asked some basic questions concerning their experience. All written feedback exhibited a positive theme throughout in regards to the experience itself. The words; ‘Fun’, ‘Innovative’ and ‘Engaging’ were repeated throughout the feedback and some player’s indicated that they did not realise that 20 minutes had passed. This was also reflected in the verbal feedback. All 8 feedback sheets stated that they could see the educational value of escapED, especially if the puzzles and theme of the experience, were worked into their taught subject matter. All feedback sheets indicated that the players would consider using escapED in their lesson plans but were unsure how to facilitate it. A few responses indicated that they thought the experience would be good as an induction into their lessons to encourage getting to know other students. One concern brought up through a number of the feedback responses was that the participants were curious to see how the experience would work with larger groups of players. None of the feedback received suggested that there were improvements that could or should be made to the experience.
Since reviewing this prototype, we have concluded that there was enough positive evidence with this small group to suggest that we could take it further to try out a few different games with different user groups such as students/ different faculties.
At present we are developing the following games to trial with students in Coventry University:
- Ethical Hacking Game – A blend on real-world and digital puzzles. To run alongside the first year of the course, the game will be centred around a solve the mystery experience to develop additional skills such as programming and maths.
- University Rules and Regulations – a short 20 minute game to get masters students thinking about University rules and regs.
- 2 x Induction Games (Photography and Aerospace Engineering) – Meet and Greet games to get students talking and working with each other.
Some of these should be implemented and running at the start of this academic year in September. I hope to post some updates on their development leading up to their release.
On more of a random note I have a few talks/workshops coming up at the end of this month where I shall be discussing the benefits of interactive GBL in more depth.
Digibytes Session, DMLL, Coventry University: DigiBytes – Game-Based Learning
Jisc Connect More Event (More Training Focused): ConnectMore