BrainPOP video-game

BrainPOP video and game

Video: “Students Rights
Game: “Argument Wars
Grade: (9-12, I think. There was no indication I could see once I’d actually navigated to the game page.)

The “Game Up” button/option at the bottom of the video page took me to a page listing six associated games. The game I chose, “Argument Wars,” broke down for me as follows:

The good

  • The core concept is very good, I think. The game works. Generally speaking, the interface is pretty good. At least some genuine learning seems very possible. It’s interesting and creates a good amount of desire to play more. The information/insights one gets from the content—both the factual information and the challenges of argument-building—are effective. There’s also some very smart elements, such as the “finishing moves” one can perform when, after a particularly good pairing of cards, the player must connect their most recent card with their initial card using the correct linking phrases.
  • Both the game and the content seem compelling enough for the target audience.
  • The content of the video was just about as directly related to the game as I can imagine. That is, at least the first “legal case” it offered me was. (There were several I could scroll through to choose from.) In fact, I’m not sure I would have done as well in the game had I not watched the video first.
  • Animations, overall, are not bad—responsive and of a good enough quality to be appealing but not distracting.
  • The “cards” have some good car-like qualities—e.g. movement and associated sounds when played.
  • The screen you’re taken to at the conclusion of the trial come across as interesting and potentially informative and not as information overload.

The bad

  • I don’t think the title’s fantastic. I understand wanting to create a sense of (fun) gravity, but I think there were some better word choices out there.
  • The linkages between the terms the game use and actual legal terminology a bit too fuzzy. It seems as though there’s the potential for even misinforming the player somewhat.
  • The the—recommended—game and case I played were almost too easy at times. (Perhaps this is a deliberate strategy—to increase the player’s comfort/confidence enough that they will be more likely play through to another case?)
  • Music highly repetitive and more than a little overwrought. Became distracting (and muted by me) fairly quickly.
  • Character continuity throughout the introduction to the game far less consistent than it should be. Gave the feel (to someone looking critically at it, at least) of a couple of different phases of development/decision-making that didn’t get resolved very well. (See attached images below from the game’s instruction screens.) Creating any doubt about what the judge you’re supposed to facing looks like is a quick and easy way to pull the player out of the narrative.
  • The point system is (technically, mostly) is a bit too baroque in its implementation. (Is the visual style they’re going for supposed to be contemporary classically dramatic or steampunk?)
  • Character dialogue could be substantially improved (as could the formatting of characters’ speech bubbles)—including messy things like having the player choose a name for their attorney but then having the judge simply refer to them as “the Player.”
  • The “cards” have some good card-like qualities, but still look too unlike actual, playable cards.
  • One of the—three—links at the end screen was dead.

Let the record show…

Argument Wars 1 Argument Wars 2 Argument Wars 3

 

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