The term “serious gaming” is used to refer to games where entertainment is not the primary goal. Such games have been used extensively for marketing, raising awareness for e.g. environmental causes, and other purposes.
Two of our undergraduate students are currently working towards developing such a serious game as their BSc projects. They aim to create a board game that teaches programming and algorithmic thinking in a playful manner. Yesterday, they updated us on their progress and the intended rules of Space Encoders.
They theoretical game concept is very intriguing. Players have to collaboratively “build” a handful of algorithms (e.g. a loop-based counter) and implement them using instructions, which are blindly drawn from a bag of instructions (somewhat similar to drawing letters in Scrabble). Additional features (e.g. extra tiles, loss of instructions) help the players to implement all procedures before they run out of time (live points).
After some theoretical feedback, we obviously also played a round to “test the game’s educational value…”