Blog Post 4-The Sandbox Theory

After my first blog post, I mentioned that the Zoombini game allows the users a chance to practice every challenge before playing the actual game and some of my classmates indicated that this may reflect Gee’s sandbox principle.  The sandbox principle describes the idea that if learners are put in a situation where they feel safe, they will take more risks and further their education.

Since the Zoombini game allows the users to practice the game before actually starting, they will feel more comfortable with the challenges and will be less likely to stop if they fail.  In addition, as I have been continuing on the Zoombini journey, I have noticed that each destination gets a little bit more difficult as the Zoombini’s progress.  This also represents the sandbox principle since the game begins with an introductory level and keeps building on our skills, or adding more to the sandbox.  Below is a picture of one of the more difficult challenges that I have faced so far.


While this challenge was more difficult, each challenge offers some words on what you will be doing in the challenge to reduce the fear of failing.  This also reflects the sandbox principle.


While the message does not explicitly state what the user needs to do, it offers a sense of comfort so the user will continue to take risks and progress in the game.

After playing the Zoombini game for the past two weeks, it has been very interesting to see Gee’s principles in action.  As I continue my journey to becoming a teacher, I know I will utilize the lessons I have learned about video games.  They are complex tools that can really open a student’s mind to lessons they may have previously dismissed.

Photo credit: Screenshot by myself while playing the game



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  1. I have learned from my kids that the sandbox principle is very important, especially for my youngest daughter who frustrates easily. If she fails too many times, she will simply give up and is unlikely to go back to that game. If she’s given an environment to explore and make mistakes without too many consequences, she will persist and she’s very determined. The idea of being able to practice before actually starting the level would be very helpful to her.


  2. I, myself, enjoy the no-fail zone too! I think the kids these days can figure things out quickly so they may not use the safe zone too long depending upon the confidence they build and how quickly. I can understand if kids get frustrated this is a great place for them to start learning about a game.


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