A Video Game Idea

I’d thought about this early this summer while my daughter was in the hospital. In amongst catching up with a back-log of professional reading, building out and refining her personal learning network, fleshing out lesson ideas, and concept mapping her teaching strategies – and getting well – she ran a restaurant. It was on her iPad, periodically beckoning her reading or browsing because it was time to open up the store, put the soup on, come up with discounts, and post signage, all to enjoy a successful mock revenue generating establishment, Restaurant Story.

I was imagining a similar style of game, but with a different focus — all brought back to mind when school administration guru, Scott McLeod posted a question on his blog, “How would you Revise Principal Preparation?” At present, he has 33 comments that are well worth the time reading, including some rather outlandish ideas from me.

But the game idea came back, a CMS style video game that challenges you to build out and maintain a school. You might start with a one room school house, adding on as you earn credit — adding a library, gym, laboratories, wings of classrooms, etc. The player would also manage a budget, allocate funds, add courses, and hire staff.

The goal of this game IS NOT generating the best test scores. No! No!

The goal of your school is to graduate the next Winton Marsellas, a team of biologists who cure cancer, the next Kurt Vontegut or the staff of an award winning trend-zine.

Would a game like this, that might become popular, serve to change the conversation about schooling?  I’m just dreaming!


31 thoughts on “A Video Game Idea”

  1. Love the idea – this would even give insight to students learning to be teachers and better support a principal in the goals you outline.

  2. I read an article about some parents who were arrested for child neglect because they were too busy playing a game in which they cared for a computer baby. I would worry that some principal, on his way out the door as his school was in shambles, would say “But in SimSchool, one of my students became the first woman president!”

    In all seriousness, though, I think this could go two ways. If executed well, it could make people understand how difficult it is to allocate funding and ensure teacher preparedness, etc. However, most games like that oversimplify things. I played a zoo one and I paid 20 gold coins and put two pandas together and 8 hours later I had a baby panda. If the school game were similarly simplified, couldn’t the public discourse shift in a negative direction as a result? People might not say it in these words, but they may very well think “Gosh, I don’t even have any training in education and I was able to create a flourishing district; what’s wrong with these people who are formally trained that they can’t?”

  3. I game such as that would definitely challenge the mind. Yet, one might learn, what it takes to run a school in the process. I assume that games would offer challenges just like any school does. What a noble idea to get people talking and thinking.

  4. what if we did change our school vision to : “The goal of your school is to graduate the next Winton Marsellas, a team of biologists who cure cancer, the next Kurt Vonnegut or the staff of an award winning trend-zine.”

  5. Hello, My name is Courtney Williams. I am a student at the University of South Alabama and I’m currently taking EDM 310. After reading your post I realized many things. If there was a video game like this in the post, it would be great! It would help educators learn in a fun way. Also think of the influence it could possibly have on kids. Instead of violent mind numbing games, this could get more kids interested in school, adults too!

  6. I’d play it. I especially like the goal of the game being to graduate the next Winton Marsellas, a team of biologists who cure cancer, the next Kurt Vonnegut or the staff of an award winning trend-zine and not raising test scores – though that should be an obstacle they encounter. One of the major themes should be learning the lesson of short term, short sighted gains and long term losses.

  7. Though I believe the idea could prove to be helpful and provide insight, as an avid gamer I can attest to the fact that many virtual simulations often run with a smoothness that’s foreign to real life. The swifter progression of time in a game can also make it difficult to grasp just how time-consuming an action could be in real life and how important balancing a system over an extended period is. Another thing a simulation like this would lack is the human element from the students, the personal ambitions of and ability to have a one-on-one discussion with these hypothetical biologists and Vonteguts.

    The concept is interesting and the goal is great and very helpful to students and society as a whole, but this would be something where great detail and frequent fine-tuning would be absolutely necessary.

  8. I Personally think this would be a great idea for a game. This, I feel could prepare people looking to take part in administration positions quite well. If you think about it technology is used in the classroom today to teach students multiple things and I feel this could apply to adults as well. If people are constantly talking about how technology would be excellent to incorporate in the classroom, then why not support the use of technology in training others how to run a school or a classroom? Training is still considered learning isn’t it?

  9. I would play this game. I think it’s a great idea although I also agree that it would need frequent fine-tuning and needs to have a lot of detail. There would be a lot of challenges within creating this but it would definitely be worth it in the end. I found your comment about,” The goal of your school is to graduate the next Winton Marsellas, a team of biologists who cure cancer, the next Kurt Vontegut or the staff of an award winning trend-zine” interesting because I feel that people’s goals in playing this game would simply be to create the best school not necessarily an excellent staff.

  10. Mr. Warlick after reading your ideas on making a game to maintain a school, I was thinking about what a great idea that would be. I have an Ipod touch and I enjoy these kind of apps where I am the boss. I find it very interesting to see what it is liking to make the rules and make the decisions. I know that many students would get the app and see what it would be like to maintain a school. Many kids would realize how difficult it would be and start appreciating that they don’t really have to maintain a school. This would be a big hit across the globe and I could see many people enjoying it. While reading I had many question in my head and I was wondering if you would have to make salaries for teachers? Would you make students follow certian rules or have a dress code? Would you have to make sure that students had a certain average of grades to stay in the school? Would you have to organize the sports? My final question would be if you could suspend or expel kids? I really enjoyed reading your ideas on making this app and I really wish that they had an app like this.

  11. David Warlick- I really enjoyed reading about your idea for a new video game that tries to push the idea of creating an award winning school out of nothing. However you said the school would not be trying to earn the best test scores, but trying to raise students to be the next “masterminds” for the human race. I believe that that is a great idea. Schools are too focused on keeping up the status quos of trying to make their students earn A’s all year round. Which is not a bad thing, but it is creating this student that is almost made out of a mold resembling an honor student that is successful in school but not striving for anymore than that. Sure that student would go on to be successful in college and life but it wouldn’t create what the world actually needs, someone that can cure a disease thought to be incurable. Someone like Winton Marsellas or Kurt Vontegut both men that changed the world with their research alone. Hey- maybe this game could be published and designed and maybe even sold worldwide. But most importantly it could spread this idea that test scores shouldn’t be the big picture, it should be what these students turn out to be. What this idea might even do is even change that general picture of the perfect student into a student that strives for greatness and knowing that they have the power to change something. What I grew up believing and still am is that a good idea can catch on like wild fire and no matter how unimportant that idea is it’s not one to be thrown away and forgotten. This is one of those ideas and I believe it could be influential to schools all around the world. The idea of education needs to be rethought and I believe your game is a place to start.

  12. Mr. Warlick, I loved your video game idea! It seems like a great twist on the “build a company game”, usually its build a chain restaurant or a lemonade stand but I like your idea about the school. This mattered to me because I have played the “build a company game” and I know how fun they are but they all seem the same. I liked that your goal in the game was not to just be successful but graduate the next Einstein or Edison. This connects to new world education more than I previously thought. The piece about the budget really stood out to me because it reminded me of the lack of money in our school systems right now. It also seems like a good way to send a message about our schools. I think a lot of people all around the world would like this game it seems like a good change of pace from the stale video game market. Are you serious about his game idea? I think it has some real potential. All in all, I’d like to hear back from you about his game idea and go more in depth about it.

  13. I think that is an excellent idea for a game. I get addicted to all of those types of games, where you have to run or manage some type of store or restaurant. I think the most popular game on Facebook is Farmville which has the same basic goal to it. Even though the timing and work load in the game would not be representative of real life but I think it would help new or aspiring teachers to get a glimpse of what its like. I think it would be important to see that the school has to be built and did not just come into existence. This could be a deciding factor when students are deciding their majors. Who would play it? I think a lot of young people would. Make it a mobile app and even more people would play it. Good ideas you have there!

  14. I thought your game idea is very good. I like how you came up with this idea and the analogy to how a school is similar to a resturant. I also liked how you were also switching back and forth in the story with what you were doing in the hospital with what she was doing with her iPad. That is a very good way to start out a story that leads into what your point is. One question I do have is how do you plan to make a realistic simulation game that could both be fun and education to future principals? Also would there be different levels and what controls would their be in the game? I am just asking because I have a hard time grasping the idea of a game that teaches future principals the basics of their job but would also could potentially be a game for anyone to play.

  15. I think the game would be provide great insight on how hard it can be to run and manage a school. Another version of the game could be from a teacher’s perspective on how to run and manage a classroom. Maybe if students played this game, they might come to a better understanding of the challenges teacher’s face and the issues that arise that the students didn’t realize teachers even deal with.

  16. I actually played a game sort of like this, geared towards teenagers and children, but it was very fun and interesting to play. You had to follow each high school student around, help raise money for the school, study for tests, etc.

    I think this would be a really good idea, to develop a better, more educating game. I’ve played games where you would have to run bakeries, daycares, vet’s offices, etc. There is also games like The Sims, where you raise a family, develop a career and choose their lives. I find these games very enjoyable and I would most definitely enjoy a game similar to your idea.

  17. This would be an awesome game! I really like the idea about if you succeed then the bigger the school and more teachers. Everyone has different ideas for refining schools. With the virtual way there is no budgeting for renovations that sooner or later won’t work. It is just for fun and everyone can try their own way. This would be neat to test out in the virtual world and see what really happes

  18. I think this is a great idea! Children nowadays are playing so many games that are not related to education, so I think this is a good way to relate their thinking to school. Not only would it be an effective game, but it would also be fun for the students. You stated that this game might become popular. Personally, I think it would be a popular game to purchase and I’m sure that parents would not mind purchasing this game for their kids. I also agree that this could change some ideas and conversation about schooling.

  19. Awesome idea…I am amazed with the amount of energy and enthusiasm you have for creating another exciting way to educate the world by playing a game. I’m in!

  20. Amazing game! I’d play it too. I really like the goal; finally a game with a real-world purpose! I was wondering however, that what the player should do in order to move from one step to another: to be able for example to add more rooms, labs, etc.
    I was thinking of “new and creative ideas which are practical and applicable to schools”. The more practical the ideas a player suggests, the richer the facilities the player can add to the game.

  21. I don’t think you are dreaming, far from it. What it needs isn’t even a video game perhaps, more of an ARG approach, anchored to a game-play mechanic. You could play this game in a classroom if it’s designed well enough using all sorts of tools kids know how to use. We use a leaderboard in our games – http://massivelyminecraft.org/pages/awardrecords the kids elect to do any/none of the tasks – the reward comes in the game-world, but along the way kids generally elect to do all sorts of things. That’s because we’re online only. But I do think that what you are proposing here could be turned into very exciting, active learning project.

  22. Dear Mr. Warlick-The game described could be a big hit that also changes the way kids think at an early age. With students today just sitting around only learning what will be on tests, this could certainly affect education around the world. If kids start playing your game while they are still young, they could learn why it is important to stay on top of the work that needs to be done. Also, older students could start applying knowledge that they already have into the game to maintain a functioning school. With your game, school work or homework will actually have a meaning. Schools could actually apply this to their curriculum! I know this game would have a very large effect on me. I love games where you rise to the top with a goal and at least yours would have an educational purpose with strategies to go along with it. My questions to you is do you encourage kids to create games similar to yours and how do you plan on getting this game on the market? I can’t wait to hear from you and I’m even more eager to hear the update on this game.

  23. Mr. Warlick, your idea is an amazing addition to ways of curing cancer. in your “The Video Game Idea”. A question i have for you is is there such a game that is out there right now that people could play? The idea of curing cancer through a video game is brilliant idea. for the amount of gamers that are in the world, to me it wouldn’t seem like it would be to long before cures or new ideas come out of playing the game. A last question I have for you is how long before a game like this will be out?

  24. Being a tech guy, I have long wished for a comprehensive game that allowed learning the complexities of becoming a network admin or a software engineer through game play. Instead of Dungeons and Dragons why not Networks and Servers where you solve real world issues fighting your way from new employee to jr. admin to sr. admin to guru. In the end you get to start and control your own Silicon Valley Kingdom. The main lessons learned in the game however would be sufficient to prepare a techie to pass industry standard certifications, i.e. ‘Apple Certified Professional” or similar from other vendors.

  25. I wish this game existed. Adults might see how much change is needed in today’s school. Younger children playing the game might see how important school is and what they can become with a great education. Future teachers playing the game would see what is really important for their students.

  26. Mr. Warlick- I really agree with your points. I love playing games like this and your idea sounds even better. I have played many of the restaurant and other games but none of them are really fun. Also if this game your talking about you need to keep money by making fundraisers this may impact life and schools today. This would help education every where learn how to make more money for tools. All around the world many young kids have great ideas for a good school or restaurant but no parent really cares. Now some people are listening. I would definitely be interested in getting this game or app because it sounds fun. Overall i liked all the points you made. I have two questions for you: Are you interested in making or hiring someone to make this game?, and do you listen to teens about advice on how to make things better?

  27. I love this idea. Students love games and would be able to understand more about why a school works the way it does. Also it would lead to more discussion on school. It would be most beneficial to people outside of education. They would understand as well. they could then offer applicible suggestions that work rather than idealistic ones that do not.

  28. Wow, what a better way to express learning in our learning globe. I think this is a great idea for students because it is not just our typical textbooks. I personally feel that this is an enhancer and it will certainly bring more engagement into the lessons being taught. This is definitely a window of opportunity to understand, grow, and apply the concepts in learning. This also gives the students a better outlook on how things work. It allows the student to become motivating, involved, and collaborative. So I must say to Mr. David Warlick, keep on dreaming because dreams do come true in some cases. Love your idea.

    P.S. I would love to hear from you.

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