# A game to teach a game

One basic principle we adopted early at 7 Generation Games is that teachers know what they need in their classrooms better than we do.  We listen when teachers say something like,

In the school where I work, “learned helplessness” is a huge problem. Kids don’t even try to read the directions.  Then, they raise their hands and say, I need help. I try to use the games in computer lab but I’ll have five kids with their hands up. Can’t you come up with some way to make sure they learn how to play the game before they get to the actual game?

Ask, and ye shall receive. We added video clips at the beginning that explain how to play the game. Then, before you can get to the 3-D game, you have to play a 2-D game. Even though there is a math question in it, that is really beside the point. All we want to know at this point is if you have learned (pay attention now)

• Use the arrow keys to move.
• Use the space bar to jump.
• Use the X key to shoot

If they cannot get past this point in the game, the teachers can tell them to re-start AND PAY ATTENTION TO THE INSTRUCTIONS THIS TIME.

Here is a link to the game to learn how to play the game. (Yes, the buffalo sprite needs touching up. That is a task for someone who is not me.) If you were really playing Fish Lake, it would end with a video of an elder telling you that you had passed your first challenge. You would then get confronted with a real math challenge. (We slipped that first one into the 2-D game, as well as one on the sign-up form, to lull you into acceptance of this is a math game. )

In case you are dying to know, the first math challenge requires you to drag your hunter to the spot on the number line that would be the fairest place for people from the two camps to meet. Of course, the answer is the spot that is 1/2 way between. This is a game on fractions, after all.

Get past here and you are into the adventure game, Fish Lake. We are doing our second round of beta testing in January. What we hope will happen is all of the teachers will be blown away and lavish with praise, smothering us with kisses and chocolate. What will probably happen is that they will say,

“That’s much better, but now we’d like these 47 improvements, too.”

That’s how our games progress. Oh well, I don’t like chocolate all that much anyway.

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