GIPI · Grupo Imágenes Palabras e Ideas

Strategy video games: how to solve problems

Summary

In this project we worked with Secondary Education classes through strategy video games ‘Spore’  and ‘Boom Blox’, in which planning was essential. Through the game and the subsequent dialogue with teachers and researchers, participants acquired awareness of the strategies used, including their final reflections in an audiovisual product.

Objectives

These are some of the questions that guided our objectives:

  • What does following a strategy imply when we play with a video game?
  • Are teenagers aware of the strategies they use when playing?
  • Do we get better results if we plan the game well?

Project Development

In this project, conducted throughout the 2008/2009 school year, we analyzed how to use strategy video games within a Secondary Education classroom at school IES Manuel de Falla in Coslada (Madrid). For this, we used strategy video games ‘Spore’ and ‘Boom Blox’.

 



A strategy is a plan to act by choosing one of the possible paths offered to overcome the challenges, which will allow us to achieve the goal of the game. Strategies may be simple, such as the ones offered by certain video games inspired in traditional board games, for example Boom Blox, or more complicated ones like Spore.

In the case of ‘Spore’, the teacher used it to reflect upon the evolution strategies, already studied in class, which the video game followed. In addition, there were discussions on the influence of the choice on the adaptation to the environment in creatures created by students.

In ‘Boom Blox’, the player must put the appropriate strategy into practice to find the best way to destroy, dismantle and demolish the different shapes presented in the screen, built by grouping several blocks. To help apprentices become aware of their activity, adults raised questions that fostered reflecting about the decisions and subsequent actions.

Following play, participants, formed groups in which, by reflecting upon what had taken place in the games, they created audiovisual products through which they conveyed their ideas.


 

 

Results

Decision taking and problem solving

Putting different strategies into practice to solve complex problems is the challenge posed by strategy video games. Thus, participants learned to reflect and take decisions, consolidating their skills and transferring what they had learned in the game to future challenges.

The teacher’s support

When the adult guides the dialogue, apprentices reflect over the importance of problems and the ways in which to confront them. In addition, with their help they are able to discover the different strategies used in the game in order to overcome the challenges found.

Acquiring awareness of the strategy

Teenagers are more used to think about what they want to convey and capturing it in a support than to sharing their ideas orally. Having to deal with the creation of a multi-media product made them reflect upon what they had learned, thus becoming aware of the need to think about strategies and, in this way, being more efficient in the game.


 

 

Agreements

Agreement of collaboration between the University of Alcalá and the video game company Electronic Arts (EA), within its Corporate Social Responsibility Plan. Date: June 2009.

Also participating

  • Students and teachers from the Secondary Education Institute Manuel de Falla (Coslada).

More information

Related publications

  • Lacasa, P.; Méndez, L.; Martínez, R. (2008). Aprender a contar historias y a reflexionar con videojuegos comerciales. In Gross, B. ‘Videojuegos y Aprendizaje’. Barcelona: Grao.
  • Lacasa, P., Méndez, L., & Martinez, R. (2008) ‘Bringing commercial games into the classrooms’ Computers and Composition, 25, pp. 331-358.
  • Lacasa, P.; Martínez-Borda, R.; Méndez, L. (2008) ‘Developing new literacies using commercial digital games as educational tools’. Linguistis & Education, 19 (2), pp. 85-106.
  • Lacasa, P.; Méndez, L.; Martínez, R. (2009). ‘Learning using videogames as educational tools: Building bridges between commercial and serious games’. In Marja Kankaanranta & Pekka Neittaanmäki (Eds) ‘Design and use of serious games’, (107-126). Milton Keynes, UK: Springer

 

Website Research Group Imágenes, Palabras e Ideas. Madrid. 2009.
Coordination: Pilar Lacasa. Editing and digital support: David Herrero Martínez. Web Master: Luis Briso de Montiano Aldecoa. Graphic Design: Rebeca Ochoa Bernabé

Website Research Group Imágenes, Palabras e Ideas. Madrid. 2009. All rights reserved | Credits - Last Update: 22/10/2011