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  •'s Game Design Challenge: Black History Month

    - Manveer Heir
  •'s Game Design Challenge is an exercise in becoming a game developer, asking you to look at games in a new way -- from the perspective of a game creator, producer, marketer, businessperson, and so forth.

    Each Wednesday we'll present you with a challenge about developing video games. You'll have one week to brainstorm a brilliant solution (see below for how to submit your answers). The following week, the best answers and the names of those who submitted them will be posted along with some commentary.

    The Challenge

    Design a game that must be playable by February (in three months) that teaches (American) Black history to fifth graders.

    Assignment Details
    You have a friend who a fifth grade teacher. She cares a lot about her students and is willing to go beyond textbooks to teach them about the world. She wants to do something special for Black History Month this upcoming February.

    She doesn't have the skills to do it alone. She also doesn't have any funding and plans to use resources that are free or very low cost and are readily available.

    She asks you to design and develop a game that will teach the kids something about Black history. The topic, she says, is up to you. It could be about a specific person or about a particular moment in American Black history that is worth teaching.

    She isn't worried as much about you knowing all the research-worthy details about the person or event that the game will be about (she can provide most of that). You just have to pick a topic and have the basic information and figure out how to deliver that information in a classroom setting to fifth grade students (roughly age 10). The game will not be the only teaching mechanism used during Black History Month, so it doesn't have to be complete. Rather, the teacher plans to use it to augment her standard lessons -- to generate interest or to heighten engagement or to encourage inquisitiveness about the subject.

    What she wants from you is a proposal that contains the following pieces of information:

    1. the topic to teach the children
    2. the design of the game itself, and
    3. a description of how the educational information is integrated into the game and presented to the children.

    She isn't a game designer or even a big gamer herself, so she tells you that simple explanations will do fine. She needs something that she can show the principal when she is asked about her plan for Black History Month.

    To Submit
    Ask questions or discuss how you might tackle this challenge on the forum. When your submission is complete, send it to [email protected] with the subject line "Design Challenge: Black History Month." Please type your answer directly in the email body. Be sure to include your full name and school affiliation or job title, and try to keep your answers to 500 words or fewer -- unless they're really good!

    Entries must be submitted by Wednesday, November 5, 2008.
    The responses for this challenge will appear the week of November 10, 2008.

    Disclaimer: is not responsible for similarities between the content submitted to the Game Design Challenge and any existing or future products or intellectual property.


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