Quarantined: Gameplay Reflections

I spent some time playing AZ State University's game on Monday after posting about Quarantined over at Bibliographic Gaming. I enjoyed the game and was able to complete it under the 30 minute time frame both with and without contracting the virus (which then reduces the amount of time allowed in the game). It does a nice job of introducing students to citations and how to begin searching for sources (books, articles, web). If you haven't tried it for yourself, I've provided the link with login and password here.

Take a moment and give it a try. Unfortunately, I only asked for permission to post the free trial for the Bibliographic Gaming blog, not over here. So please bear with the link jumping. The game itself still has a few improvements, but most of what I experience the team of Tammy, Bee and company are already working on them. There were a few times that I thought I needed to explore more, only to realize my path was very limited. Exploring buildings, library stacks and other locations are either not allowed or result in nothing. Although I assume this was a result of either time or programming. Overall I an very encouraged and excited about the work they did on the game.

I am disappointed by the feedback the students provided on the game were not as positive as the team expected and hoped. They found the results “kind of depressing.” I agree with Tammy's statement at LOEX that much of the current frustration and lack of enjoyment may stem from the multiple bugs in the current build.

The students also found the board game more engaging and successful, but why? Is it the content? The gameplay? Was it the social nature of playing the board game that motivated the students? What did you think of the game?


Chris said...

I've now had a change to play Quarantined so I'm going to add a few comments about the game and some reflection on my current project. Thanks Paul for getting permissions to try it out. Since I didn't attend LOEX my comments/ questions may have been answered or addressed (this just means that I need to contact them and get some info).

I'm curious about some of the comments, like "students also found the board game more engaging and successful." Is this the same group of students or a comparison of past and current comments? What was disappointing about the results - that the students didn't find the game fun? That the student’s didn't learn what they thought they would learn?

I firmly believe that expectations is one of the more challenging issues to overcome, especially when it comes to games, whether they be computer games or board games. Each has connotations attached to it and a player will form expectations prior to playing. For example, if social is an important element, then Quarantined would not meet those expectations - interaction amongst player's playing a board game is expected and most likely encouraged.

I also see Quarantined, though a game, more akin to an activity rather than a computer game (see, my expectations are evident here as well). By this, I mean similar to a crossword or a wordfind where it is a one-time play with little to no replayability.

I did find that I was distracted by the deadline in an abstract way. My only motivation was to get done before the time ran out - not understand nor immerse myself in the story or the setting. I recalled very little of what I had done to save the campus other than I had to get some stuff and pass it to a professor. I had no interest in what the articles/books were about or how they related to the narrative. I found that the deadline created artificial tension and took away from the story. I feel that the tension should exist in the nature of the narrative not the deadline – people are dying – that should be motivating enough. (The player has the choice to solve the crisis or not).

Would providing deadlines on some of the tasks work differently than a deadline for the story? What would be the effects if less of the story was revealed to the player and had to learn that her friends would be able to help her solve the problem rather than telling the player at the beginning? Would this add more drama/tension? The player would then be required to interact, and discover who might know how to do this – perhaps remembering an earlier conversation with a roommate. Perhaps reveal some of the story through a conversation between Axl and her friends? But implementing these would extend the game. On average, how long was the board game experience? How might this affect the current delivery format if this is used in a classroom setting?

I’m curious to know how well Quarantined met the objectives that they listed. I’m not clear as to where evaluation skills were used. The articles were all created and the player was told which ones to provide. Would providing a broader topic range (instead of individual articles) force a player to determine which ones might be more appropriate/useful?

* Library as physical and virtual space
* Services the library offers
* Online catalog
* Types of sources
* Evaluation skills

All in all this was an interesting game and an interesting look into using video/computer/digital games for information literacy.