Thursday, November 3, 2022

A Card Game for E-learning

Technical e-learning modules that have only basic interaction can be boring. Introducing games inside a module or even as part of a quiz, will make it engaging. Games can be of any genre. Action, Adventure, Puzzle, Strategy, Sports are examples of game genres or categories. There are several factors that affect the decision on the choice of the game. The first one is the audience. Not everyone likes action or shooting games since these types of games require users to have a high level of hand-eye coordination and quick reaction time. These abilities improve with practice over time. Another factor is the budget. Games that require rich graphics and physics are more expensive to build. You'll also need a good story or motivation to play the game. Some of the easiest games to build are word games and card games. Since these games are common and most users would have played these at some point in their lives, the learning curve is short.

In this post, we'll try and build a simple card game that can be used either inside a module or within a quiz. Games included in an e-learning course must meet a few requirements.

  • It must be easy to play
  • It must reduce monotony of the module or quiz
  • It must reward bonus points to the learner

Card game illustration

We'll call this game Honored as it uses the Honor cards (Ace, King, Queen and Jack) and the player will be required to arrange the playing cards (placed face down) in a specific order from the clues provided. The below bulleted list describes the game play.

Game play:

  • The game uses only 4 cards, namely, Ace, King, Queen and Jack of a suit (say, clubs).
  • 4 cards are kept face down in a row with the numbers 1,2,3 and 4 written on the back side of each one respectively.
  • The cards are randomly assigned a face / rank, namely, Ace, King, Queen and Jack / Knave. Since the player sees only the back side of the cards, he or she does not know which number corresponds to which rank or face.
  • The challenge is for the player to arrange the cards from the clues.
  • The player arranges the cards in the order of ranks, i.e., A,K,Q and J by swapping two cards at a time.
  • Swapping is done by dragging one card over another.
  • If the user drops the card elsewhere (i.e., not on another card), it returns back to its initial position and no changes are made.
  • When the user swaps two cards, a random clue is generated based on the positions of any two cards in the new arrangement.
  • The clue is displayed on a clue board. An example of a clue is: 3-4-1-2: Queen is to the left of Jack.
  • In this manner with each swapping, the clue board is appended with new positions and clues. So, the clue board will need to be a scrolling text field that can hold all clues from the start of the game until the last swapping, one below the other.
  • The player must compare the positions and clues on the board and make a logical conclusion of the current arrangement of the cards.
  • When the player thinks that he or she has completed arranging the cards in the required order of A,K,Q,J, they may click the Check button.

Clicking the Check button:

  • Reveals the face of the cards in the final arrangement
  • Awards 25 points to the player for each correct match (optional)

Screenshot of the card game
Screenshot (with basic UI) of the game, built in HTML5/JS after 3 tries

Screenshot of the card game winning screen
Screenshot (with basic UI) of the game where the cards are revealed to the player on winning

We are thankful to the creators of the artwork used on these game screenshots and have provided links for those who wish to download the artwork or reach out to the creators.

Playing cards King clubs: Image by OpenClipart-Vectors from Pixabay
Playing cards Ace clubs: Image by Clker-Free-Vector-Images from Pixabay
Playing cards Back Cover: Image by macrovector on Freepik

Therefore, the player earns:

  • 0 points for no match
  • 25 points for 1 match found
  • 50 points for 2 matches found and
  • 100 points for 4 matches found.

Note that if 3 cards are in the correct positions, the 4th card will also be in the correct position.

Using the game in a module
The game may be added in a quiz which is not an assessment with a passing criteria. If it is done so, the score from the game may be added to the quiz score. This will motivate the learner. Since the least possible score in the game is 0, the user cannot lose points in the quiz by playing the game. After adding the game score to the quiz, if in case the total score exceeds the maximum possible score, then the total score can be set to the maximum possible score.

The game may be used inside a module without being a part of a quiz. In this case, we may choose to not have a scoring at all or change the scoring to points or in-game currency.

Making a game variation
Since the game is a simple ordering activity, the game can be easily modified to suit any technical concept that involves parts or sections. Below mentioned are some examples of instructions for variations that are built from the same game.

Technical example 1 (STEM topic - Four-stroke engines)
Instruction: 1,2,3 and 4 are random cards illustrating the four-stroke cycle of an engine and need to be arranged in the order of Intake, Compression, Combustion and Exhaust.

Technical example 2 (Leadership topic - Mentoring)
Instruction: 1,2,3 and 4 are random cards with illustrations depicting the four phases of a mentoring relationship and need to be arranged in the order of Purpose, Engagement, Growth and Completion.

Technical example 3 (Insurance topic - Types of insurance. This is as example where the 4 items do not essentially have an order)
Instruction: 1,2,3 and 4 are random cards with illustrations depicting types of insurance and need to be arranged in this order from the left to the right: Travel, Health, Fire and Life.

A note on enhancements
We discussed only the game play and some basic elements. It goes without saying that a game must have clean graphics such as a contextual background, sound effects for drag/drop and winning/losing and a separate section for rules / how to play. The game can be made more challenging by simply increasing the number of cards from 4 to 5 or setting a timer for completing it. To improve game design, sky is the limit.

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