Dr. Mike Bowers, previous Director for the Center for Entrepreneurship at the David O’Maley College of Business, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University shared, “the Collegiate Entrepreneurs’ Organization would like to do some sort of a fundraiser and are thinking about creating a Monopoly game to sell. Maybe you can help us?”
This beginning idea quickly morphed into a collaborative partnership between Associate Director, Dr. Mary Kayler, Center for Teaching and Learning Excellence, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Daytona Beach Campus, Daytona Beach, Florida, game designer Adam Mayes at Uppsala University, Gotland Campus, Gotland, Sweden, and Dr. Mike Bowers. The charge was to create an opportunity for students to build community, work together, and have some fun!
Adam and Mary fully embraced that charge, engaged in the iterative game design process, and created the first alternate reality game at the Embry-Riddle Daytona Beach campus. Funding raising would have to wait (for another iteration).
Proof of Concept
The Scavenged served as a “proof of concept” alternate reality game (ARG) which immersed players into an entrepreneurial mindset using the 3 C’s: Curiosity, Connections, Creating Value (KEEN). The ARG game genre was chosen to promote collaboration, problem-solving, critical thinking, and interpersonal skills development. The ARG incorporated: an immersive experience, the exploration of a science fiction narrative, and the collaboration of players towards goals making the experience engaging and suitable for a large number of players.
Alternative reality games (ARGs) provide an innovative approach to entrepreneurial mindset pedagogy; encouraging students to be curious, to practice skills in making connections and creating value, all while learning in an engaging and entertaining manner. ARGs ask players to pretend, they are living in a carefully constructed parallel universe that can include transmedia elements, websites, phones, and real objects hidden throughout the world (Phillips, 2012). Game mechanics allowed for a structured and controlled pace of gameplay as clues were placed at specific times and locations aligning with the release of narrative storyline and players responses.
Universities are looking beyond the traditional classroom lecture to teach students the skills associated with life-long learning and inculcate the sense of agency contained in the entrepreneurial mindset. Results from the first time playing of The Scavenged suggest that ARGs have the potential to encourage curiosity, and develop skills in connecting and integrating data into knowledge from disparate sources. The ability of an ARG to encourage the skill of creating value is not as clear.
Lusory Attitude Promoted Engagement
Players reported how persistence, failure, challenge, and fun motivated them and kept them engaged in the problem-solving elements of the game.
“As long as the player feels that they are getting somewhere and are curious as to what is next, they will not really focus on their failures as much“
“This occurred often after trying and failing with certain solutions to the problems but we were all determined to solve it to continue the game”
High Degree (4.4) of Agency Exhibited
Players reported a high degree of agency in terms of problem-solving and working collaboratively with others in order to progress through the game.
“It feels really good when you are able to solve something that you once felt could not be solved easily. Just by having solvable points in the game allows for players to feel empowered”
“It had students who don’t usually speak up to others or are more introverted speak up on a topic when they were more knowledgeable than other students”
“If many people have their own opinions, it takes someone who can assert themselves well to clearly convert their point and the validity in it”
High Degree (4.7) of Critical Thinking
Players engaged in critical thinking throughout the game; individually working on problems, seeking connections to game clues and each others’ understandings. Analysis of forum postings confirmed that players engaged in stages of Bloom’s Taxonomy.
“Anything with puzzles or finding patterns involved critical thinking. Connection pieces that seem to have no connection at first”
“At some points we probably went a little too in-depth with it and over thought some basic puzzles, but the game definitely makes you look at a challenge from all angles”
“Difficult problems require many minds to think together toward a common goal”
TheScavenged served as a collaborative site for players to engage in communications that encouraged players to respectively listen to each other to progress through the game.
“You have to be able to listen to the opinions of others and respectfully give your response, whether you agree with the other person or not. If people get short with each other, they aren’t going to be making good progress in the game”
“Nothing could have been accomplished in a timely fashion if the group did not communicate with each other constantly”
“This definitely made people work together in order to gain more information and that yearn for more info made people speak up”
3 Cs Emerged as a By-Product of Game Play
TheScavenged promoted the 3Cs via the ARG genre. Players indicated the following information on how they perceived the 3Cs.
The Pop-up prior to the launch of the CEO event and the CEO event clearly caught the attention of students and peaked their curiosity. Original NASA files were included within the storyline and students reported spending a great deal of time searching for information that could be used to solve clues. And all players indicated curiosity in the storyline.
Players reported on how the forums were used to glean clues and information that prompted them to make connections for story progression. The collection of clues, images, and solving puzzles aligned with the story narrative encouraged players to progress through the game. Connecting the Pop-up scene to the “lost burner phone” that moved players further into story lore and next clues.
Players clearly appreciated the opportunity to play TheScavenged. At the debriefing there was a great deal of curiosity and excitement around the game itself. As designers, the debrief was affirming that we created an experience that players will remember.
At a STEM university, there are high academic demands placed on students. TheScavenged created a campus-based experience where players got to meet new people they otherwise wouldn’t have met, had fun in getting the opportunity to “figure something out that wasn’t required for class, experienced joy at finally cracking the “Female Doe” clue and accessing the temporal storage box, and appreciation for the opportunity to collaboration with each other. One player summed it up this way, “it was a bonding experience that I will remember.”
In September 2019, The Scavenged: Engaging an Entrepreneurial Mindset Through Alternative Reality Gaming was presented at the Global Consortium of Entrepreneurial Centers on September 27, 2019 in Stockholm, Sweden.
As part of the 2019 Embry-Riddle New Faculty Orientation the Center for Teaching and Excellence selected innovative research projects to showcase pedagogical efforts for meaningful student engagement. The Scavenged was shared using the #better poster design. ERAU New Faculty Dinner Poster Presentation
Adam Mayes and Dr. Mary Kayler presented The Scavenged: A Case Study at the Gotland Game & Educators’ Summit held at Uppsala University, Gotland Campus, Gotland, Sweden on June 8, 2019.