As part of my series on game elements I want to play around with, today I’ll talk about unlocking levels. A simple version of this can be found in Angry Birds, where you must do the levels in order because the higher numbered ones are locked out:
What I like about their display in particular is that all the levels are shown right away, just some of them have a lock symbol covering them. They’re sitting there like “come and get me” and you know what you need to do to get to them. Mario Bros. III had a great version of this too with their map style display of levels. In fact, theirs was even better because it had the added benefit of forks in the road to introduce choices. Like, you don’t have to play 3 or 4, but they’re there (and you want that mushroom house):
How does this apply to my class game?
You can think of the Mario map above like a unit. 1, 2, 5, and 6 are instructional activities that I want every student to complete. They could be learning activities, or any sort of formative assessment. To add some choice and variety, 3 and 4 are in there as optional (perhaps with some added incentive). Then, the two castles are like summative assessments. While this doesn’t fit exactly how I want my game to run, the idea is there. To get to the next thing, you’ve got to complete the first thing. It’s essentially just mastery learning, but with the familiar terminology and symbols of games.