The first weeks of school are always a blur. The time developing a rapport, onboarding to atudentents, and just getting used to the rhythms of the classroom are exhausting. (I forget every year how glorious unscheduled summer bathroom breaks are!). I’ve been working on incorporating several Gamified elements and I am excited to see how they play over the next month or so. This coming week I will have my first possible Tie Ranking students, I will be introducing my guild concept in about two weeks, my Heart System is working beautifully, and students are starting to use Power Cards and Avatar Skills. Over the next few weeks I’ll find to reflect on all of these machinations.
One element that I did not make a central focus but which has become a bit of a hit with the students are my dice rolls. This mechanic was discussed last year in both the #XPLAP and #games4ed Twitter chats which led me to make some quick plans for including dice. I discussed dice and randomized rewards a bit with Mr. Matera on his podcast when I was a guest as well. I think of the dice roll rewards as the 2nd half of my Zelda inspired mechanics. (The Heart System is the first). In Zelda the player goes into dungeons and battles monsters and opens treasure boxes. Sometimes the boxes contain a bit of gold or a common item but other times the have a really valuable item. I read somewhere (this is the biggest Historian sin I will commit – the unverified assertion) that it is the randomness that draws the player back into the dungeons. The hope of possibly getting a valuable item keeps them doing mundane tasks. In Badge Theory receiving a badge every time the player does something diminishes the value of the badge – it becomes an entitlement. When most educators talk about adding badges I think they reply mean micro-credentials. If the player recieves a badge in a semi random but still perceptable pattern, say every 5th treasure box, it also loses its motivation. The code is cracked and the player goes until they get the prize. But a truly random treasure box fills a powerful urge. I had all of this floating in my mind when I bought a set of D&D dice.
I made a chart with 20 different outcomes ranging from No Effect to a powerful Ultra Rare Card which would be awarded based on the role of a 20 sided die. Last Thursday I asked students to do what I later felt to be an unreasonable amount of work at home. Those that finished I let roll the 20 sided. The entire class stopped to watch each student roll the die. The ‘oohed’ with good rewards and ‘aahed’ with the no effect. The stusents were really I to this treasure box system. Here is a link the the 20 possible outcomes.
A second dice mechanic is a quiz game I put together. I don’t count quizzes as a grade score, rather students can earn gold to use to purchase cards and rewards. They earn gold equal tobtheorbscore on the quiz. It is a motivator but doesn’t harm their grade. Before the first quiz I had students roll the multiple of 10 die and write the number on a slip of paper with their name. For example Tony rolled an 80 and Sally rolled a 30. I then introduced the “10 side challenge”. The goal for each student was to meet or exceed the score that they rolled. The kids that rolled 20s and 30s immediately roared approval and laughed at those that rolled 90s and 100s. I told them not to laugh… If students met or beat the score they would earn gold equal to their score plus the number the rolled. If Tony scored an 80 on the quiz he would earn 80+80 for 160 gold. If Sally scored an 80 on the quiz she would earn 80+30 for 110 gold pieces. The laughter was quickly returned… Even if the challenge was lost the stusents still earned the gold for their score. The next class students asked to play this game again.
I’m excited to keep incorporating dice mechanics and random events. There are several,power cards with this feature and I’m excited to See where students lead me on this.