Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Day Two. Gameplay First Run.

Today, we brought in the Playstation for the first run. As the students came in, they saw the system set up. We let them take a few minutes to imagine the potential fun that could take place during the lesson.

After Ms. Jenkins finished introducing the setup of the game to the students, we invited a few students to try it out. They had the opportunity to modify their characters, then the level began.

After it loaded, the students saw a pretty basic level that Ms. Jenkins had designed. On the screen, the characters materialized out of a pipe, wearing jet packs and tethered together. The first group of students flew around a bit, until the hazards claimed them one by one. Through this experience, the students were introduced to what gameplay in LBP looks like.

The second set of students got a little further. They realized that there are tasks to attain in the level. These students also found that if they want to win the level, they have to manipulate buttons by standing on them to cause a change in movement of one of the level’s elements. Two of the four characters died off right away. The remaining two characters worked together to move a big electrified object out of the way, so they could stand on a button that was being blocked by this electrical hazard. Unfortunately, both players went to do one character’s job. The other buttons needed to be pressed for the team to win. There weren’t enough characters to finish the task because they died before they could find any more out about the level.

The third team of students who played completed the level, having learned from their predecessors. After much struggle, they worked together each to complete one of the required tasks. Through these tasks, they pressed buttons which moved hazards, released rewards, and enabled them to make space to stand on various buttons. Success in the game required team work, each player had to do something different that enabled another student to complete their own task.

Once the third team finished their level, Ms. Jenkins led a discussion about the meaning of the events in the level. The students were asked what role teamwork played in the level. A foreshadowing of the next lesson on interdependence.
Ms. Jenkins then revealed what she did to make the level. She opened a version of the level that had green strings running between the different mechanisms and interfaces on the level. The first button, for player one, had to be manipulated before the next player could do her job without being electrocuted. Player two’s job, jumping on the next button, stopped spikes from pounding on character three while he tried to do his job. Player three’s job caused fishes to be dispensed from the wall near where player four’s electrified button was placed. The fish could be carried by player four and plopped onto the last button. As Jenkins showed the class, the level revolved around a set of hazards, tasks, rewards, cause and effect, and connections that could only be attained through teamwork. The players depended on each other in order to reach their goal.

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