Game Over – but not in the gym
Children are interested in computer games. In order to be successful in the virtual game world, they must accept given rules and tasks. As part of these commitments, they can explore and explore their courses of action, train skills and learn to master the game. They develop into experts and prove themselves successful in car racing, film-ready space duels, historical wars, quirky fantasy stories and comic-like fairy tales.
But how would the children prove themselves if they were given the task of transferring the rules of a computer game to a self-developed obstacle course in a gym? Would such a task excite computer gamers? Can children in grades 1 – 4 recognize the different tasks with their defining characteristics, requirements and rules in a computer game and explain them in a comprehensible way? Are they still able to combine their findings with their own imagination and creativity and incorporate them into an obstacle course? And the course designed for those who will later try it out and play, as stimulating and exciting?
In the run-up to the project week, a suitable computer game had to be selected first. Since the use of the gym was promised for the project, a game focusing on movement seemed to make sense to use the existing opportunities. After questioning the children about their computer game preferences, the choice fell on the game for the following reasons "Shrek 2":
The game combines elements of Jump&Run as well as role-playing features. Because in "Shrek 2" Whenever a group of people is on the move, it is ideal for implementation in a project in which team spirit and work is desired because several children can play at the same time and work together to find solutions.
The specific abilities of the individual characters specified in the game can also be meaningfully transferred into an experiential educational project. The children can interact and advise who can solve which task according to their abilities.
A typical jump&Run scene from the game can be recreated on an adventure course in the gym. Obstacles of the virtual template are imitated with real objects in the hall.
Additional motivation is provided by the characters of the game "Shrek 2" The children are familiar with the Boger heroes from the film of the same name and they can identify with the family travel group. So they are experts right from the start and can help to determine how things should be implemented in the project.
Before the start of the project week, all the children who had registered for the project, as well as the educators, used the computer game "Shrek 2" to try again. It was confirmed that the film and the game were known to most children.
The timeframe for the project was set by the school with five mornings (Thursday – Friday and Monday – Wednesday) from 9:00 to 12:00. The presentation of the project should take place on Wednesday from 17.00 to 19.00h. The project management team consisted of one teacher and two social educators.
1st day (Thursday)
All project children received a folder at the beginning of the project in which they were able to accompany the project with their ideas and suggestions in writing and drawing. Sixteen boys from grades 1 to 4 had registered for the project.
After project management and boys had imagined and met each other in a playful way, a video projector and an XBOX console were added to the game "Shrek 2" connected. With the help of the shared game experience, the project idea was presented and discussed. The children could successively play individual game sections, with the others accompanying the event with advice and acclamation. Everyone had the opportunity to stop the game if he noticed something that could be of interest for the implementation of the project.
Even at this early stage, it became clear that the boys had participated with great interest and had understood the project’s goal. For the implementation of the game decisive characteristics and requirements were recognized by them, named and noted by the project management. The children followed the game, even if they were not their turn, with great interest and supported each other with tips and assistance if the respective player got stuck in a difficult position. It became clear that everyone was fascinated by the game and enjoyed the opportunity to prove their skills on a big screen.
Then it went to the gym, where together in small groups a first spontaneously developed obstacle course was built with sports equipment. Afterwards, the groups were given the task to compare their plans with the rules in the computer game and to consider if and what might need to be changed. Then drawings were made to connect elements of the game with the obstacles in the gym. Each small group had a contact person from the project management, to whom they could show and explain their own recorded ideas. Even in these first drawings came ideas that were later adopted in a modified form in the presentation course.
In a final round, the most important experiences of the first project day were summarized and suggestions for the next day were collected.
2nd day (Friday)
Friday kicked off with a first round showing digital photos from the day before via the projector to refresh the memory of the previous day’s ideas.
Afterwards four small groups were formed, which should work together until the end of the project. Care was taken to ensure that mixed age groups were formed in order to have approximately equally strong groups. Each group received one contact person from the project management for support, the fourth group was supported by parents who had offered their cooperation.
The small groups got 45 minutes to test the game on the PC again. This time, however, with the specific task to link certain elements in the game with the project idea. For this it was necessary to exchange information on the PC together, to consult and to record suggestions in writing and drawing. With the help of the planning sketch, it was then necessary to build an obstacle in the gym and present it to the whole group.
The boys built four different obstacles made up of bars, horses, gymnastic mats, boxes and trampolines. The ropes fixed in the hall were also included.
When trying out the objects by the other groups, it became clear that sometimes they did not know exactly what the task was. The young planners and designers were therefore called upon to develop clear and comprehensible rules. Furthermore, they were advised to take precautions in their planning in order to avoid possible accident hazards.
The final round once again discussed the importance of codes of practice in the use of each obstacle. The children were given the homework over the weekend to think about what might have to be changed at the obstacles, so that outsiders, the respective tasks are understandable.
Since the sports hall outside of the school is also used elsewhere in a school, all obstacles were photographed in order to be able to build them exactly the same way in the next week.
3rd day (Monday)
After a small warm-up session, each small group received a photo printout of their own parcour element from Friday as a set-up guide. It showed that individual children had thought about possible changes and optimizations of their objects. Together with the other group members, their ideas were discussed in the small group, installed, tested, rejected again, changed and sophisticated.
Thereafter, the large group rehearsed all parts of the course again. The last irregularities were eliminated together and finally it was agreed that the individual obstacle sections now had to be conclusive for outsiders.
In the final round, the following rules were agreed and recorded:
Children who go through the obstacle course can decide for themselves how they want to do it. The only requirement is not to touch the water (eg bridges). In addition, there are uniform objects (e.g., sponges that must be touched by each player to complete a subtask of the course) that must be considered by each player to successfully pass the course.
Sounds are used to signal to players, on the one hand, whether to follow the rules of the game successfully or less successfully, and, on the other hand, to point out whether they are on the right path or have correctly completed a task. For this purpose, a xylophone (success) and a whistle (failure) are used at each of the four stations.
One child per station watches the players and operates the xylophone and whistle to guide them through their play section.
The stations are provided with signs and arrows, so that the directions are clearly recognizable.
Some children are used as disturbers. They should increase the difficulty of the course by blocking the way. You can e.g. be defeated by throwing with a sponge.
After successful completion of the stations, the participants will receive a stamp in the game passport at the end of the course section, which will inform the children at the beginning of the presentation with information on the general procedure (eg. "Pay attention to signs and hints").
4th day (Tuesday)
The obstacle course was further differentiated and designed. Under instructions, signs and arrows were tinkered, which clearly mark the paths in the course course. The individual groups once again went through their own course elements in order to detect and correct any discrepancies and missing details.
With the completion of all planning and renovations, guest children were invited to undergo a test run. A complete run of all four resulting obstacle elements took about 25 minutes.
The test players obviously had fun with the challenges in the course. They took the game and its rules very seriously and gave important feedback when there were discrepancies in the rules or the flow of the game. The project group was very involved and used the suggestions for last improvements in the course.
In a final round, the individual tasks for the presentation day were discussed again.
5th day (Wednesday)
All the kids were excited. Would your idea of transferring specific game tasks in a computer game to a gymnasium course work? Would the developed regulations be understood by everyone? And how will the other classmates experience the play landscape??
The boys set up the course and prepared everything for the presentation. All four stations were provided with signs and according to the in the computer game "Shrek 2" existing landscapes as much as possible decorated.
In the middle of the gymnasium the project group had separated a circle from which one could see the course and watch the players without getting in their way. In a side path, visitors were given the opportunity to get to know the computer game that serves as a model and to follow the process of the project days and the implementation of the project idea in a digital photo show.
From 5 pm, the hall filled with visitors who wanted to see the results of the project week. The rush at the start was huge. The arriving children, who wanted to try out the course, were given a game pass by listing all four stations, as well as a short instruction on the general rules and then they started. And now it became clear that the efforts in the project days had paid off.
The participating children obviously had fun in the course and were thrilled by the unusual game idea. Due to the high demand and the limited time, the wishes of some children, to want to go through the game again, could not be considered.
The boys from the project group certainly had their hands full and supervised the presentation of the obstacle course in a sovereign and competent manner.
The implementation of the computer game "Shrek 2" in a movement offer succeeded. The children of the project group had a great time with the game and developed a demanding, varied course with elements from the computer game template. Their fascination for computer games was taken up by the project idea and motivated the children to create a real environment as they perceive landscapes and challenges in computer games.
The interest of the parents in computer games was aroused by the offer. Could they see here that it is about much more than finger exercises. The range of activities not only reduced the medium of computer games to the content of communication, but also the prejudice that computer games had nothing in common with reality. Rather, they provide a variety of educational and learning opportunities that educators should use.
The rules introduced for the course allow rules from computer games to be recognized. It became clear that children are well aware of the rules in computer games and accept them because they make sense to them in terms of the game’s success. They were also able to name concrete rules and transfer them to their course.
From the conversations with the children and their parents from the project group, as well as from the reactions of the visitors on the day of the presentation, one could see that the project idea was accepted and understood.
Implementation of the project in similar project weeks at schools and other institutions is highly recommended.
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