Student design team results, continued

As you know, if you’ve been paying attention, I’ve been meeting the past few weeks with high school students helping to improve the design of our games.  Today, I asked students to submit cards with answers to prompts. They played Crossroads, a decision-making game that is still in prototype, Fish Lake and our Aztech Games, one of which is in the app store and a second to be released next week.

These sessions are beneficial for several reasons. First, they require the students to think and write specific ideas for improvement, not just “It’s good” or “It’s okay”. Second, the feedback we get from students often includes original ideas we had not considered. For example, many people have suggested clicking on animals in the game players see and giving more information on that animal as an educational activity. No one else has suggested including insects in the game and giving information on those. No one had suggested talking about the sounds you hear in the game, and telling about the type of bird or insect. Writing about the terrain fits in with our social studies component but we just never thought about it. Third, students tend to blunt about what they like and don’t like. In improving our games, it’s far more helpful to have someone tell us they would play more if we included more games in between the problems than to just be told, “Yes, it’s very good.” Last, but certainly not least, students review (or learn) math and social studies as they play the games

Interested in what students suggested? Read on.

I’d improve the characters in the game by:

Girl about to set off on path

People Say You Walk Funny

Fish Lake

  • I’d improve the characters by having them talk just a little bit faster, get to the point sooner.
  • “I feel like this game should have better walking skills and the instruction for movement and tasks more understandable.”
  • The characters move funny when you walk backward. {NOTE: I have never even tried getting the characters to walk backward. I will check this out.}


“The characters are good the way they are” but “fix the screen size so we can see the full screen”. {NOTE: On Crossroads, there is a menu at the top of the screen, which I had been planning to hide unless the player clicks on it. This is moving up my to-do list. }

Something you could add to the environment


scene from Aztech Games

Perhaps this game could use more details


  • Have more details.
  • In Aztech: The Story Begins, when they are in the kitchen, have a game where the food is flying and you have to catch it. {NOTE: This sounds like a fun game to program. I’ll bet they’ll be several volunteers in the office to take this task.}
  • This one should be more fun and it should have more animals.
  • Have more game play in between the problems so it feels more like a game and less like a test.

In Crossroads, have a more realistic sky and environment.


As an educational activity we could add is


Apparently, our sky is not good enough

Crossroads  (This game is a prototype, not yet available to the public)

  • The game could include math.
  • Include more teaching on what’s wrong and right, for example, it’s not okay for them to be treated as different.
  • Teach them they don’t need to go down the same path (alcohol and drugs) just because people in their family did.

Fish Lake

  • Tell about the background a little throughout the game. {NOTE: I’m pretty sure she meant the background as in the terrain – trees, landscape – and not the background of the characters, but I’m not certain.}
  • Fish Lake, tell gamers about the animals and insects they see and hear in the environment. {NOTE: This is the first suggestion we have received about teaching about the animals/ insects they hear and I really like this idea.}
  • At the end of the game, have fishes jumping over the boat, with equations that you have to answer.

Thank you to Tim, Mari, Angel, Laticia and Kevinisha

If you’d like to check out our games yourself, you can find links to all of the games available to the public here.

Fish Lake + Spirit Lake Pack

If you’re interested in beta-testing, please email

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