Mock-up of what Phylomon might look like.
I'm intrigued by The Phylomon Project
. In the year of biodiversity, the Science Creative Quarterly (SCQ) are compiling a bunch of cards with the key statistics of species on them, emulating Pokemon. Apparently primary school kids can remember 120+ types of Pokemon creatures, but know less than 50% of common wildlife species. My concern with the project is that they have missed out on the fun. Pokemon synthetic species
Why is Pokemon
fun? Isn't it something to do with creating an army that gives you power over your friends? The guy that created the game loved collecting insects as a child. But, he drew on that love to create something that hooks the psychology of children even more than species diversity: Power. So, what the well-meaning folks at SCQ have done is assume that the key to the success of Pokemon is the card format, rather than the pleasurable experience and outcomes of playing.
I find this fascinating, because I'm also the sort of person who naively comes up with game design ideas, "what about a game that teaches studying skills to students by being a real-time strategy about managing time... like Sally's Salon
I say to Morgan
Morgan sighs (lovingly) and asks me to step back from the design and tell him what the concrete outcomes for the students should be. I stumble about offering abstract suggestions like "learn the principles of learning", or "be able to study better" or "change what they're doing when what they're doing is not working". No, Morgan says, tell him concrete
outcomes. For example, a driving instructor explains to a student that their side mirror is in the right position when the tip of the back door handle is visible. He sends me away to consider what concrete outcomes I want from students and then he'll help out with a design to achieve this.
Education is obsessed with interactivity right now. Well-meaning and passionate educators are falling over themselves to design games to teach their subject material. But, they urgently need coaching on psychology, game design, memory and rigorous thinking.