Puzzle Drive

Praktisk / Teoretisk opgave på engelsk

Computer games are a very popular pastime. Since the creation of the first game in 1958 (Bellis, 2006), computer games have progressed from being simple square blocks on the screen to almost a photorealistic quality. This evolution has given the game developers more freedom to explore areas of gaming that for 48 years ago would have been dismissed as pure fiction.

Educational games have been part of the game genre since the early 70ies. (MobyGames™, 2006) Given that these game haven’t the same number of loyal fans as regular game have had, these games have only evolved slowly. The primary followers of this type of game have been teachers this meant have always had tremendous focus on the educational part.

The situation today is that only a few new educational games are created each year. Usually these games are aimed at the 5-7 year old, and the level of difficulty is often lower than the ones in school-related education. This leaves the older, pre-teen school kids (7-16 year old) with either old games, or with only traditional forms of education. The problem with these old games is that they don’t fit the today standards within computer games (Dickgrave, 2005). They don’t have the nice graphics, the cool sounds and the interesting game play. According to Alan Lenton, a highly regarded game designer, the reason for this lack of evolvement within the educational games used in schools is of a financial matter. He claims in an interview that:

It's difficult and expensive to write a good game. It's difficult and expensive to write good educational software. To try and do both at the same time is a major exercise in the management of complexity. Add to that the tendency of teachers to make copies of commercial software to pass round their cash-strapped schools and you have an understandable reluctance of companies to invest in anything that might be a real 'educational game'. (Lenton, 2005)
So the problem is, how do you create an educational game for school-related education, using simple inexpensive tools, which is still interesting for the student to play. In the same interview, Lenton says that:
Most games that are purported to be educational are boring — boring games and boring 'education'.
(Lenton, 2005)
This means, that according to Lenton the educational games are boring because of both their contents and their subjects. So, for an educational game to be interesting, it has to include some kind of motivational elements combined with the educational ones.

How can we improve educational games? Are there any other game genres that have some kind of motivation we can use in educational games? The answer could be puzzle games these games are simple games yet very entertaining to play.

The puzzle game genre was first defined in 1985 with the game Tetris. The fact is that Tetris was far from the first puzzle game. Some of the first puzzle games were games like minesweeper, and card games like such as solitaire, which both was developed before 1985. Tetris however changedeverything it was immensely popular, as discussed here:

Puzzle games were remarkable in the way that they were simple games that focused on the player having fun while doing fairly simple activities. These games ranged from mindless entertainment to difficult engaging puzzles.

I light of this we think it would be interesting to know if it’s possible to improve an educational game by adding what we call the motivational elements from puzzle games.
Our field of interest during this assignment will be educational computer games and computer puzzle games.

The final result of this thesis will be a working prototype of a game that includes these motivational elements which should improve the level of interest.

In order for us to do this we will first find out which games are used today within the field of educational games and specify which common factors are present within this type of games.
Secondly we will have to define what a puzzle game is, and find different puzzle games within this definition. We will then highlight the motivational elements within these puzzle games to find out what makes them so interesting to play.

Furthermore we will find out if we can combine the elements from both game genres and thereby create some structural guidelines, which should result in an improved educational puzzle game.

Is it possible to create a game that is motivational but educational at the same time, using the elements from both genres? We will evaluate this by doing user tests and interviews in the form of a questioner.


• Rapport
• Spil prototype