After beginning to play the Zoombini game last week I was able to accomplish more challenges and saw more of Gee’s principles in action. Each challenge, allows the user to take control and choose what the Zoombinis will do. For example, one of the challenges was a pizza making station. The Zoombinis had to determine which combination of pizza the troll liked best in order for the troll to allow the Zoombinis to pass through his station and continue on their journey. When the troll determined that he did not like something on his pizza, he threw the pizza into a pit, as seen in the image below.
When the troll determined that he did like a pizza topping, he threw it over his shoulder.
Through process of elimination, the user is able to determine which pizza the troll likes. This challenge reminded me of Gee’s principle of manipulation and distributed knowledge. This principle states that the more manipulation a student has, they will feel a greater sense of control and autonomy. While working on the pizza challenge, I liked that I was in charge of selecting which toppings to put on the pizza and could manipulate the pizza any way I wanted by adding many toppings or almost no toppings. This manipulation kept me engaged and motivated to figure out what pizza the troll liked, so all the Zoombinis could successfully move to the next level.
In addition, this game reminded me of an article I read by Jordan Shapiro, “In the Bustling, Interactive Classroom, A place for Digital Games“. This article states that games are useful because the provide informative feedback. The article states, “informative feedback provides instant explanations”. This instant informative feedback is evident in the Zoombini game because the user is very clear when they have gotten a pattern right, for example, the troll accepts the pizza, or when the user gets a pattern wrong, the troll throws the pizza into the ditch. After the user completely solves a challenge, they are able to move to the next leg of the journey which is shown below.
The instant feedback in the Zoombini game provides intrinsic motivation, as Shapiro states in her article. The user gets excited when they know they have accomplished a challenge and get to move to the next level, and can visually and instantly see that on the screen. This intrinsic motivation is what keeps players coming back for more.
After making it through a few more legs of the journey, I am excited to see what other challenges I will face on the journey ahead!
Photo credit: Screenshot by myself while playing the game