May's Journey: A serious game to teach middle and high school girls programming


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May’s Journey is a game where you help a video game character, May, finding her friend and repairing the broken game world. This is a 3D puzzle game in which players solve an environmental maze by using the game’s pseudo code to manipulate the environment. The game is aimed at 12 to 18-year-old girls and the purpose is to attract them into Computer Science fields by teaching them basics of programming by focusing on logics and concepts while still asking them to type simple instructions in our programming language. Players do this in a compelling environment, with characters they can identify with,embedded in a relevant story. Our design process was based on our research on young female preferences in games and current teaching techniques for programming.Each decision we made whether for the teaching content, the art style, or the game mechanics and the techniques used to develop this game are motivated by the goal of making programming more appealing and interesting for girls. For this, we developed our own pseudo-code language in order to provide an interface that bridges the gap between drag and drop approach and real programming and introduce typing as part of the experience. We tested our game with 10 teenagers aged from 14 to 17 years old for educational content. We were pleased to see how engaged with the game they were. Overall, the testing results were mostly as expected. The players liked the game (rated 4.8 out of 6) and all of them wanted to play more of it. They all felt that they learned something and 8 of them expressed the will to learn more about programming. Unfortunately, the sample of players is too small to generalize our results so we plan to take the feedback into account, iterate and test it again with a larger study group and get conclusive results. Working on this project has allowed us to understand the importance of iterative design and early playtest feedback. We have also learned the importance of tutorials in games and how that might completely change the users’ experience. Finally, a crucial point was the importance of the UI helpers and targeted feedback in serious games.

  • English
  • etd-042816-153852
Defense date
  • 2016
Date created
  • 2016-04-28
Resource type
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