My students are no doubt weary of me saying these three words every day as they work on their science-based video game project. But I find it helps to keep them focused on the three elements of our project.
I remind them that, as video game designers, they want to …
ENGAGE the player in a game that fun to play, hitting that “sweet spot” of not too hard, and not too easy, but just challenging enough (ie, the Goldilocks Principle).
EDUCATE the player about the science that should be baked into the game itself. Our focus is on Buoyancy and the science behind it is the underpinning of the games.
ENTERTAIN the player with an interesting story-frame — the narrative that the game is wrapped up in. I tell them to consider their audience as a player who is reading their story by playing their video game. Yes, it is a high concept, but it builds off our work last month with Interactive Fiction.
Every day, every class period, I am saying “Remember: Engage, educate, entertain.” And it does occur to me that this could be a mantra for any classroom, although some might quibble with the “entertain” element there as being as important as the “educate” one.