Make Cycle #3: Level Up your Game Design Reflections and Connections

Whether you’re currently losing the game, winning the game, or remixing and redesigning the game, now is an opportune time to reflect on Make Cycle #3.

Throughout the week we dug into some core questions relevant to game design. Many expressed difficulty starting with this make, and were rightfully looking for more clarity around the definition of a game. Extra Credits argues that the definition of a game itself limits our medium (Great share Susan Watson!). The most common questions were:

  • What makes a game fun?
  • Do there need to be rules?
  • Can the rules be changed?
  • How can we celebrate failure?

These questions should help us reflect now, too.  

There has been so much courage and innovation thriving throughout the Make Cycle, and the interconnectedness undoubtedly continues beyond the week.

Chad Sansing helped us consider systems in terms of how one variable can impact another:


Mallory McNeal and Monica Multer noted that in order to understand complex systems, we needed a process by which we could identify the individual parts that make up the whole: 



Games have potential to enable discussions around systems; we had philosophical debates around the meaning of game and the purpose of make; and many of us lost the game or decided not to play. We drew examples from our childhood, and instances in which we use them in our day-to-day activities. We questioned the value of competition in various learning environments and pushed the limits of what qualifies as a game.  

One of our goals this week was to generate evidence that a game lens can be a useful tool to support the principles of Connected Learning.Throughout these discussions, it is clear that there is a genuine call for new learning tools that inspire creativity and drive community. We highlighted game design as a new and fun opportunity to implement the Connected Learning principles of production-centered and interest-centered learning. In addition, we as a community danced with the concept of celebrating failure, and having fun with difficult problems in dynamic, complex environments. 

Considering your participation and what you’ve seen from others, which of the connected learning principles seemed evident in your making, playing and learning? Which seemed evident in what other participants shared?

These creations from the CLMOOC community might help.

Games allow us to explore and tinker. Susan Watson’s OGMOJS provides a create example for how we can use dynamic tools, like games, to encourage curiosity.

joys and sorrows

O.G.M.O.J.S. by Susan Watson

After some musing, Deanna Mascle created the Muse game. Margaret Simon’s Apples to Apples remake also helped us to stretch our creative muscles and use randomly generated words to create new stories.

apples to apples

Apples to Apples Remake with Margaret Simon

Fred Mindlin’s string game pulled from Terry Elliot’s Thoreau Game with the purpose of exploring patterns and easing social tension through collaboration instead of competition.

making a star with string

Making a star with string with Fred Mindlin

What You’ve Got Us Thinking About


It cannot be understated that games have significant potential to directly support learning and academic goals. For instance, Michelle Stein’s frisbee shuffleboard is both fun and enables teams to dissect and categorize descriptive, expository, narrative, and persuasive writing. GlassLab’s SimCityEDU is also another example of a digital game that has measurable learning outcomes:


So, a final question to get you reflecting: How might you use games, game design, fun and play in your context?

We’d love to humbly thank all of you for your awe-inspiring participation and engagement in this week’s CLMOOC Make Cycle. It has been such an exciting experience to game design alongside such talented and driven educators, and we look forward to continuing to create, remediate, deconstruct, and redefine systems with you!

Next up, we have the San Diego Writing Project. Stay tuned!

Paula, Evan & Lori
GlassLab Games

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  1. A Fairy Tale and a Dream #clmooc Make #3 | Unorthodox but Effective

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