student success blog
This blog is here to help incoming freshman with hints and tips to a successful college life. Feel free to contact us if you feel you have something to add.
How Emotion and The Hero's Journey Connects, Engages and Motivates Players
As the phenomenon of game-based learning continues to find its place in the educational experience, the question is this: what makes for an engaging, rewarding game-based experience. Well, the answer is not to be found in whizzbang technology but in fact in a time-honored construction: The hero's journey.
A great game-based experience is one that is immersive. The player finds themselves as an integral part of an unfolding story with all of the twists and turns and discoveries. So what drove the Iliad, or Moby Dick or Star Wars for that matter all boils down to the very same construction the hero's journey, and it is this story-based construction that makes for an unforgettable, memorable and meaningful experience.
The Power of Human Emotion and Story
Above all, people engage with any content on a purely emotional level. While facts play their role in the end, people engage and make decisions with their hearts and not their heads; engagement comes from empathy and relating to the people and characters in a story. As Maya Angelou once said, I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.
The Hero’s Journey
The hero’s journey is the vital underpinning of great storytelling. It’s the architecture of a great story. It has a number of vitally important elements which, combined together, makes for the glue that keeps the participant engaged. It begins with the hero, a person on a quest, a mission, objective or subject of desire. The storyline tracks the hero from the definition of the ambition through a series of actions both for good and for bad along their journey. Along the way the hero encounters a number of characters, not the least of which is a villain, a force that stands in the way of reaching the objective and not only stands in the way, but conspires, to see to it that the hero’s hopes and dreams are dashed. Additional characters appear that are called foils which help to illuminate and make the hero richer, who is defined not only on their own merits but against the backdrop and their relationships with these “foil” characters. Finally, there is the sage, the wise one. We see this character throughout the ages whether it's Yoda or the kindly Prof. Marvel in the Wizard of Oz. These characters help the hero to shape their belief system and help and coach them on their track toward their ambition.
In my Emotional Intelligent Leadership Game, the character field is rich, with the player being identified as the hero, the Chief Executive of a troubled company, called Planet Jockey, in need of a turnaround and to be made more emotionally intelligent. Wolf industries, the villain with its unethical business practices, sets out to foil the hero and Planet Jockey at every step while a series of foils help to present and shape each individual situation that the player encounters. Of course, the sage is introduced, in this instance as the Chairman of Planet Jockey, an approachable wise counsel who after each question and situation is confronted, provides a thoughtful viewpoint on what the optimal answer was in each particular instance. Note indeed that the sage is linked to what millennials value, namely, mentorship.
Using what’s called a story arc, the progression of the hero’s journey, the gameplay, and the lessons to be imparted are arrayed along the journey experience. This is how player immersion is achieved. For example, in the Emotional Intelligent Leadership Game, a promising acquisition of “Vroom Inc.” central to reaching the ambition surfaces. We see then that the acquisition in later stages of the game is assured and then alas Wolf industries steps in and steals the acquisition out from under Planet Jockey and the player! The setback is then dealt with in later stages of the game and soon Eureka! Wolf is discredited and the acquisition returns to Planet Jockey, delivering the moral of the story: Staying true to your value systems in spite of setback pays long-term dividends.
Successful Game based learning engagement is rooted in the fundamentals, players become engaged because they identify with a hero, become absorbed in the quest and are literal participants as opposed to passive recipients. A plot, a hero, a villain, setback and redemption: the hero’s journey has got to be there.
Game-based Learning Checklist
When you're examining a potential game it's useful to look at a few things from the perspective of engagement so be sure you can check off these items as you examine the game:
1. Storyline: Is there a clear and distinct storyline? Are the characters well defined and is there an overarching storyline experience?
2. Emotion: Is the overarching story emotive and do the individual sequences the player encounters contain the human element that keeps the player engaged?
3. Authenticity: Is the storyline relatable? Can the player suspend disbelief and place themselves in the shoes of the characters and become part of the storyline experience?
4. Bravery Are situations depicted reflective of the spectrum of life's diversity of characters? Do they represent an honest picture people and most importantly do various groups have a place at the table?
5. Relationship: Has the gameplay been able to establish an overarching relationship between the game itself and the player?
Kevin Allen is founder and CEO of E.I. Games, author of “Emotify! The power of the human element in game based learning, serious games and experiential education”
tips for Freshman students from Ball state students- if your feeling overwhelmed then simply take a step back and take a breath
According to a research published in the New York Times by Jeffrey Selingo in 2018, only less than 40 percent of students who make it to college graduate in four years. Here are a few of the reasons why students are dropping out of college.
Earning a college degree is the only way for many students to unlock their career opportunities, but the cost can be prohibitive. Education costs have risen at an alarming rate, with students at public four-year colleges paying over $36,000 in tuition, fees, accommodation, and board fees. Their counterparts in private schools are spending an average of $46,000. The rising cost of tuition is out of reach for many students, and this can have a direct impact on the college dropout rate. Many students have issues finding money to clear the exorbitant cost of a college degree and are forced to either delay their graduation or drop out of school.
Students are academically unprepared
From grasping complex topics to getting your first thesis correct, a college education can be overwhelming. Many students meet the minimum requirements to be accepted in a college, but they are not well prepared for university classes. A good number of these students are from low-income families and have low SAT scores, usually in the range of 1,000 to 1,600 points. Unfortunately, universities send these struggling students to remedial courses, and for many, this is a precursor to dropping out.
What can we do about it?
Universities are finding new ways to combat this problem, including incorporating new technology strategies to engage students while educating them about the resources they have at their disposal throughout their campus life.
Ball State University has partnered with E.I. Games to create the Student Success Game, a game-based learning simulation that helps students with issues ranging from getting prepared for the course load and homesickness, to course planning and dealing with the stress of balancing work and academics.
For more information on the Student Success Game, click here.
by Dr. Michael Sutton
Bill and Vieve Gore School of Business, Westminster College in Salt Lake City, UT
The Institution: Westminster College is a nationally recognized, private comprehensive liberal arts college in Utah founded in 1875. Westminster offers a broad array of undergraduate and graduate programs. The college enrolls an estimated 2,300 undergraduates and 760 graduate students. Four schools comprise the college: School of Arts and Sciences, Bill and Vieve Gore School of Business, School of Education, and the School of Nursing and Health Sciences. Students come from almost every state in the USA and 23 countries internationally. The unique learning environment prepares students for success through active and engaged learning, real world experiences, and a vibrant campus community.
The Customer: University and college students are paying more today for an undergraduate education than their payments may have paid for a combined bachelor, master and doctoral degree 40 years ago. Students expect to use and apply significant educational technology as the new normal for their courses. With the value of the loans being accrued, most students are demanding a more engaged learning space and new applications of gamification, serious games, and simulations.
Dr. Clayton M. Christensen, the Kim B. Clark Professor of Business Administration at the Harvard Business School, has made some dire prediction about how long the traditional institutions of higher education can survive if they do not adapt and adopt learning strategies oriented to our millennial generations. Apparently, the best before date will occur in the next 15 years, “The scary thing is that 15 years from now, maybe half the universities will be in bankruptcy [or extinct]…”
The Challenge: Currently, an abyss has become more apparent between the use of traditional learning strategies in higher education and the application of new educational technologies. The attention span and engagement quotient of millennials with traditional lectures and labs is very short lived. Listening to a professor for 2-3 hours “talk to” the student audience is a dying learning technique. National and regional research studies have demonstrated that an engaged student has a much higher probability of learning, passing, or excelling at courses, and consequently, of graduating with a degree. Investigations have proven that the lecture theatre with 250 students is not an active, engaging learning space.
Undergraduate students are more easily engaged in the classroom or online with a tool that permits a simulation of “hands-on” experiences. Add some gamification elements, i.e., leaderboards, badges, points, ranking, and you now have tapped into a suite of motivating factors to support competency buildings and skills acquisition.
The Journey: The learning space needs to facilitate a “safe place” to be challenged with new experiences normally unavailable in the classroom. Reading a text, creating a presentation, adding an entry to a discussion forum, or reflecting upon a situation are useful in order to stimulate imaginations. However, such learning strategies seldom enact critical thinking and analysis, problem-solving, and decision-making at deeper levels—three significant skills that employers are demanding to see within graduates. A recent student commented:
“I found myself within a virtual world of my own making. My decisions had an impact on the next challenges in the simulation. I was able to make choices and recognize consequences where I received instant feedback, in terms of badges and points. Sometimes I was recycled through a scenario to take a different learning approach to achieving a better score, when I failed an important decision point. At least my lessons learned were better acquired in a simulation where I had a “do over,” than in a real life experience, where I may have been judged as a complete novice or absolute fool.”
The Instructor: Dr. Michael Sutton has been using serious games, gamification, and simulations in his university classrooms for the last decade. Even before Michael went back to the academy to achieve his doctoral degree and graduated as a lifelong-learner when he was 57 years old, he used serious gaming and simulations in his corporate training projects. Michael has been recognized as an emerging authority in this popular practitioner and educational area encompassing gaming. He has been able to observe and note significant changes in the leadership and teamship skills of students he has exposed to game-based learning outcomes.
The Discovery: Facilitating immersive learning environments has been the hallmark of Michael’s courses in the last decade. He has been able to observe increased self-regard, self-confidence, and a foundation for a healthier and more professional self-image through the use of serious games, simulations, and gamified exercises. Michael is involved in a number of research initiatives to investigate the impact of these learning strategies on students in higher education.
The Solution: Michael approached EI Games about a year ago when the simulation was first released to high tech enterprises and business firms. EI Games’ Planet Jockey Leadership Game is an award-winning simulation that uses exercises, scenarios, and situations to build emotional intelligence through a leadership course. Michael was immediately surprised and encouraged by a simple walk through with a few of his students. None of the students wanted to quit the tool. All of them wished to max out their points, gain badges, and work toward the completion of the business simulation.
The Implementation: After that quick sampling, Michael approached EI Games about implementing the gamified simulation within his Managing People undergraduate course. The learners were put into small groups of 3-5 team members and asked to complete one session per week. The students were asked to rely upon each other when trying to get through one of the five sessions. When the students returned to the classroom, Michael led the structured debrief of the obstacles, challenges, issues, and concerns that the students encountered. This stimulated some of the most impassioned discussions the instructor had encountered during the past ten years.
The Results: Michael wishes he had built the learning experience as a research project from its launch. However, he observed during the next semester a number of students returning to discuss with him the techniques and skills acquired from the simulation that were immediately applied in their workplaces. Many students also asked if he had located other online simulations they could use to build professional traits and leadership characteristics, along with emotional intelligence skills. Michael is pursuing additional research encompassing more gamified simulations and serious gaming.