Games are at the heart of I am learning. They help to engage students, whilst motivating them to continually improve. Importantly, in I am learning, as students play game to learn, we store valuable performance information which helps to inform teaching and learning. But to ensure we do motivate students, we need to make sure the games within I am learning are good games.
Our Games Developer, Joe Worthington gives us his thoughts on what make a ‘good’ game.
I’ve been the Games Developer here at I am Learning for nearly four years now. I hope by now I know what makes a ‘good’ game. I’ve also been playing video games since I was 4, back on the NES. Ever since then, I’ve respected Nintendo as a company who just knows how to produce great games, and vowed that one day, I too wanted to make video games. For me, it’s simple. It’s not about graphics, celebrity voice acting or million dollar budgets. For me, it’s the edge-of-your-seat tenseness of the final airship on Mario 3 (which as a 6 year old, let me tell you: that’s tense), through to the gripping, emotional story of Metal Gear Solid; it’s the way a game makes you feel is key. Joy, excitement, sadness, even frustration; if a bunch of pixels moving around on a screen can do this, then to me, it simply is a ‘good’ game.Nowadays, games focus more on storylines. They are becoming akin to film and books, as a legitimate source of mature entertainment, rather than a childish waste of time. The recent Sony exclusive The Last of Us has won more acclaim and awards than any other game, but when people discuss it, it’s the memorable relationships, the emotional ending and character development that people love, not so much the actual gameplay. Again, it’s the simple, core element of game design: Making the user feel something.So do we do this right in I am Learning? Every game I personally make, I try to achieve a level of quality in graphics and general gameplay, but more than this, I try to get the users to feel. Simple story elements, such as the ones found in Linty’s Quest and Spellslinger change simple button presses, to giving a user a reason to perform a task. They want to find Linty’s friends, not for useless points, but for the reward of seeing them all together again at the end.Does every company get this right? No. No they don’t. The infamous Aliens: Colonial Marines went through years of development, only to be plagued by bugs, glitches, poor sound, graphics and generally terrible gameplay. The only thing users felt here was annoyance and disgust. Hopefully, this is something we at I am Learning can avoid. Hopefully too, we can improve our games with every release, and one day, we can be as favourably looked upon as Nintendo or Sony!