Sunday, November 27, 2022

Word game with a story or scenario

Word games can be used in e-learning to not only present content, but also for reinforcement or even as a quiz. Games become more interesting if they have a story (a plot or a scenario). The story provides reason to why a learner should play the game. In this post we will try to make a simple word search game interesting by adding the flavour of a detective story. The intent here is to provide some ideas that you may be able to use when building your word game for learners.

Word game with a story - Title screen

Game Name: The Lost Page

Game Concept / Story / Plot / Scenario: The detectives had lined up four people for interrogation in relation to stolen jewellery. This came to light when they found a man named Craig missing from near his house. Camera footage showed Craig leaving a library in a rush that morning. The librarian confirmed that a man had entered the library and stolen a rare textbook on Simple Machines that is no longer in publication. The book was later found in Craig’s home with a page torn away from it. Cameras show that Craig had visited the houses of Jack, Tom, Billy and Nick that night, and was taken away in a car on his return.

Jack, Tom, Billy and Nick said they got a piece of paper from Craig but passed it on to someone else upon the instructions of a caller who promised to pay them to do this. The four of them agreed to cooperate and to answer any specific questions related to it.

The detectives have received a tip that the four pieces of paper have an initial secret word and these four words will reveal the name of a Hotel where all the jewellery have been kept.

You are the detective selected to achieve the following objectives:

  • Crack the initial secret words on the torn bits of paper
  • Find the name of the Hotel

The first inner screen of the game will provide the ability to select a person for questioning as shown here below. There can be three states - Completed (disabled), Yet to start and Current selection.

Instruction: You may select any person to start interrogating. You cannot return to the same person later for a second round. At the end of the interrogation you will be provided with a screen to enter the code words. Select a person to interrogate and click Start Interrogation.

Word game with a story - Inner screen

Instruction: You are in the Interrogation Room with Tom. Select a question below and note his response. You may ask a questions only once, so make sure you write down everything. When you are done, click End Interrogation.

Word game with a story - Inner screen

Word game with a story - Inner screen

The artwork in the room can be enhanced in several ways. You could either show only the person’s avatar or show both the learner’s and the person’s avatar. The questions and responses can be shown as speech bubbles. When the Learner asks a question, two things must happen:

  • Remove (or disable) the question from the drop-down, so that it cannot be asked again.
  • Show the current question and the response in speech bubbles. Remember to remove any previous question and response from the screen. It must look like a conversation and not a text scroll.

Creating Questions for the Game
The questions and answers must be prepared cleverly. It must not be too easy or too hard. We have described below the steps you can take to prepare these questions, but be as creative as you can. The complexity of the game lies in the questions.

Step 1: Take a section of the content around which you want to create the game. We chose a wiki article on classification of levers. Do not forget to change the book title in the instructions based on this content. Note that we used the book title - Simple Machines.

Word game with a story - Content selection

Step 2: Since we have 4 people, we will cut the content into 4 paragraphs and assign one paragraph to each person. This way the questions will be accurate when we finish. The underlined text is what we will use to create the questions and responses.

Word game with a story - Content split
Word game with a story - Content split

Step 3: Select 1 word from each section so that it can together look like a phrase in any order if possible - it just adds to the drama. All words do not have to be technical. In this example we identified the phrase “BETWEEN SEESAW AND HAMMER” from the 4 content pieces.

Try and keep the lengths of the 4 words different as this will avoid confusion when the learner enters these words. If that is not possible, you can have a question that involves the position of the word. In this example, since SEESAW and HAMMER are both of 6 letters, we added a question that helps the learner determine the position of the word HAMMER in the phrase. (See questions below, especially the last one)

Step 4: Create 3-5 questions per person and their responses. These questions can be the same for all people or different. We have used the same 3 questions for all of them. The respones should not give away the answer directly, but must serve as a hint. It is the combination of the responses that the learner will use to crack the code. See our construction below.

Do you recollect seeing any highlighted words in your torn piece of paper?
Jack: The word AND was underlined (Word: AND)
Tom: The underlined words were something like “fulcrum is between the effort and resistance” (Word: SEESAW)
Billy: The underlined words said something like “effort is between the fulcrum and resistance” (Word: HAMMER)
Nick: It said “It is where F is in relation to R and E for the 1st class lever” (Word: BETWEEN)

Is there anything you thought when you saw the underlined words?
Jack: No (Word: AND)
Tom: I think it is something that is seen in parks. (Word: SEESAW)
Billy: I remembered that there is also a singer by that stage name. (Word: HAMMER)
Nick: No (Word: BETWEEN)

Did Craig tell you anything when he gave you the paper?
Jack: No
Tom: No
Billy: He said “Buddy, you have the last word”
Nick: No

Step 5: Select a few letters from the 4 words that can be reordered to make up a name of a Hotel. This is another creative task. We created a hotel name called “WEST END”. When the learner has entered all the letters of the 4 words correctly, show a congratulatory message that he / she has completed the first level. Then highlight the letters that make up the Hotel name. Show a message to the learner that they now need to find the name of the Hotel and provide input fields to enter the letters. See our construction below.

Word game with a story - Final screen

Closing remarks:
You may choose to give more hints by adding a key icon next to each word. Clicking the key icon could possibly even show the torn page that contains the word with or without the underlines. If the learner uses the key, points may be reduced or the final messaging can change accordingly. This game can be changed into a comprehension exercise too where the learner is provided the content upfront and the game requires the learner to understand the topic and find a secret code!

Image by efe_madrid on Freepik, Image by vectorpocket on Freepik, Image by macrovector_official on Freepik, Image by on Freepik

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