Game Review of September 12

Note: This template is copyright K.Becker and may not be used without her written permission.

Game: link to game Audience: ??
Publisher: link to publisher Subject: ??
Developer: link to developer Grade(s): ??
Release: ?? Platform: ??
Genre: ?? Cost: ??
Perspective: ??

describe the game here

Source: Game Site

Provide a summary of the review and the overall rating, out of 100.


How is it as a game? Is it fun? Is it Interesting?
How does it measure up esthetically? This includes visual and auditory components.

Content & Originality

Are the game elements well developed and appropriate for the game? Does it show original thought? Does it follow accepted norms for the genre? ~OR~ does it have new take on known genre? 1)

Game Mechanics.

What can you do in the game? Are the controls logical and easy to use? Does each 'level' fit the overall style of the game?

Game Progression.

The transitions between levels (which need not be traditional levels) go from simple to challenging and are smooth and appropriate for the game. explain

Artistic Design

Is it overall Visually Attractive? Does it make me want to try the game? Does it seem to be appropriate for the game? explain

Set, Settings, Characters & Costumes

Does it seem to be appropriate for the game? Is it: Appealing. Distinctive. Sufficient variety. Original or appropriate. explain


Does it seem to be appropriate for the game? Is it: Appealing. Distinctive. Sufficient variety. Original composition or appropriately credited explain

Is there adequate teacher support to make viable for use in a formal setting?

Teacher's guide

exists and is easy to find. It is clear how to use this game. Includes: Description of game play.Content description (documentation) is well organized. I can see how the game will play. Any required special permissions/skills to install or run are clearly identified. Installation and execution processes are clearly identified and easy to read and follow.

Plug and Play

includes lesson plans with thorough instructions for using it in the classroom (or other target environment). Will not require large time investment to make it “teacher-ready”

Supplementary resources

for teachers (background, how to use, where to get help) exist, and are both complete and readable.

A community

exists where teachers can go for help, support, to share. It is clearly identified and easy to find.

How well does it appear to deliver on its educational objectives? (This is is an analysis performed without user studies, so it is not possible to verify this here. That is left to other methodologies.)

Instructional Strategies Are the instructional strategies appropriate for the learning outcome(s)?

This relates to gameplay, but is specifically focused on how well the gameplay matches the intended educational objectives. For example, a guessing game or drill and practice may be appropriate for for learning anatomy, but not for Mendelian genetics.

Instructional Design Is the design in keeping with Merrill's 1st Principles of Instruction? Each principle is assessed pass/fail, and the score is the sum.

Problem Learning is facilitated when learners are engaged in solving real-world problems.
Activation Learning is facilitated when existing knowledge is activated as a foundation for new knowledge.
Demonstration Learning is facilitated when new knowledge is demonstrated to the learner.
Application Learning is facilitated when new knowledge is applied by the learner.
Integration Learning is facilitated when new knowledge is integrated into the learner’s world.

Objectives Does it appear to meet the educational objectives?

It is not possible to guarantee that any particular objective will be met in an educational object like this, but it is possible to assess whether or not it provides the necessary 'raw materials'.

Integration In a serious game it is essential that the desired learning outcomes be part of the required interactions of the game.

Does it pass Becker's Lazy Test (BLT)? It should not be possible to get through by brute force or by random chance. Are the educational objectives included among the required learning in the game? It should not be possible to get through the game while ignoring the learning objectives. The required learning in the game should be PART of the game and not only found in pop-up screens of text.

Accuracy Does the game contain accurate information?

Even though no game can be completely accurate, it is crucial that all of the facts associated with the learning objectives be correct, and that the needed concepts and principles are clear. There should be nothing here that is misleading.


Is scoring in the game related to the learning content? explain

Where possible, links to studies using this game in educational settings are listed and studies cited.

How does it fare when viewed through the lens of the Magic Bullet Model?

This section examines the game through the lens of the Magic Bullet model to see how well the various learning elements are balanced. This looks at both the overall balance and the educational components

Bullet Class

  • explain

For a more detailed explanation, see: Magic Bullet Assessment

In each of these categories the rating is determined by how well the balance of the elements fits the type of game it is, its intended use and audience.

Overall Balance

Is the relationship between the 4 main categories appropriate for this game given its intended use?

Can vs. Must

Is it possible to get through the game without learning anything (i.e. without meeting any of the educational objectives)?

Operational vs Educational

Is the required operational learning appropriate for the game's intended purpose?

Educational vs Discretionary

Is there an appropriate balance of learning and fun?

General explanation goes here.

Not Scored

What instructional strategies does it use?

Presumably, the primary instructional strategy is Concept Formation through Discovery

There's a great list <HERE> (Kelly Jo Rowan) and <HERE> (Saskatoon Public Schools)

Not Scored

What theories, models, or principles were used in the design of this game?

Constructivist, and Inquiry Based Learning Theories

This particular game was analyzed as part of a course requirement. The theories for the week included:

  • Assimilation and Accommodation (Piaget)
  • Developmental Learning (Piaget)
  • Zone of Proximal Development(Vygotsky)
  • Behaviorism (Skinner)
  • Facts, Concepts, and Schemas
  • Constructivism (Papert)

It's possible to superimpose virtually every one of these theories onto the game, but at some point it becomes very much like Astrology: people can always find aspects that apply to them which gives the appearance of validation. However, if we take a stricter view, then we get this:

  • Assimilation and Accommodation (Piaget)
    • This assumes at least some prior concepts or theories on the part of the player.
    • If the player already knows about osmosis, then this theory may apply in that players may use their experiences in the game to adapt their existing notions about how osmosis works.
    • On the other hand, if they don't already know about the subject matter it is quite possible that playing this game will not help, at least not without considerable additional outside (read: teacher or other facilitator) help.
  • Developmental Learning (Piaget)
    • This game is claimed to be targeted at all ages, so differences in the player's stage of developmental learning should not play a role. That having been said, it seems quite clear that this game will work better with some age groups than others. I would say the ideal age group for this game would be middle school (G4-8)
  • Zone of Proximal Development(Vygotsky)
    • This theory predicts that optimal learning happens when the difficulty of the activity is just on the edge of the player's ability, often requiring the help of others in order for the player to succeed. As this is not particularly a social game and there is not readily available community of learners, this theory doesn't really apply.
    • Again, just as was said regaring Assimilation and Accomodation, WITH help, this theory might apply, but without the help of someone who actually knows the subject matter and who can accurately explain what's going on in the game, ZPT is not at play here.
  • Behaviorism (Skinner)
    • While this theory is often maligned as being out of date, there remain some key applications where learning in this fashion is useful. This isn't one of them. The notion of shaping behaviour through rewards and/or punishment does not really apply here.
  • Facts, Concepts, and Schemas
    • It may well be that the designers were counting on the player's development of various schema in order to pick up the necessary concepts involved in the process of osmosis. I am not convinced that they succeeded. There is insufficient scaffolding in this game to facilitate the necessary concept building. There is a very short page explaining the process of osmosis, which I find somewhat confusing. Some sort of teacher's guide could go a long way towards making this game viable as a learning object.
  • Constructivism (Papert)
    • This is likely the primary theory that was employed in the development of this game. The main idea was to permit players to explore and play around with Osy, and through discovery, to figure out the concepts - thus constructing understandings for themselves. As in with the previous theory, I am unconvinced that the designers succeeded.

I'm building a list of theories and principles here. (At the time of this writing, it is still empty. Sorry.)

IOW Shows understanding of standard gameplay and does not go against conventions. This is important because the goal of the game is educational rather than entertainment only.
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