Hey Listen Games

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Sep 4

The Teacher's Lounge


Edited: Sep 5

I'm assigning all of you homework. Since all the materials on Hey Listen Games are free, you can consider this your payment, unless you've actually donated to the site :)


I want teachers to use this forum to discuss game based learning. I want you to create a new post here if . . .

  1. You taught with one of the lessons on this site. Explain how the lesson went in your class.

  2. You taught with a video game that is not on Hey Listen Games. Detail the game and the lesson you made.

  3. You taught with any game, not necessarily a video game. What was the lesson about?

  4. You have an idea for a lesson/unit for a game and want to discuss it with other teachers. 

There are not many places where teachers can discuss game based learning with other professionals, so I hope this forum will be useful for anyone interested in teaching with video games.



I'm an English teacher from Pakistan and I'm pretty new to using video games to teach English concepts. I just wanted some feedback regarding these two games I thought would be really helpful in teaching some concepts.


So, I have had to host a few spelling bees in the past and my students complain about how dull it can get to spell. So, I remembered this game I played once called Epistory: a Typing Chronicles which is about a girl who's trying to fix her homeland. As you traverse through this gorgeous adventure, you are faced with enemies with words above them and you have to type to destroy them.


The second game I came across was called Killer Frequency, where an RJ has to help three callers escape a murderer. I thought this was a really neat game to explore to teaching skills such as the importance of future planning and decision making. However, I'm not sure how I can incorporate English skills into this. I'm still thinking about it.


I really would like some feedback and it would be lovely to have a discussion with anyone who would want to have one.


Thanks a lot for your time!

Sep 17

I haven't heard of either of these before, but at a quick glance they both look like a lot of fun. Killer Frequency sounds awesome! In terms of English, are you trying to teach English as a language, or English Language Arts, which is more about story telling?

The thing is my school urges us to teach English ONLY as a language. Our department head doesn't seem to understand that teaching English Language arts is also very important because it helps the students develop writing skills and it helps them to decide which genre they would like to explore.

Sep 17

That can definitely be frustrating. I teach at a school in New York dedicated to newly arrived immigrants who need to learn English as a language and using stories is a great way to get them where they need to be. Using stories gets them to naturally want to have conversations which helps their speaking and listening skills. Plus a number of the games require a lot of reading.

I hundred percent agree with you. I really would like to work in a school that lets me design my own lesson plans without putting limitations on it.


There was a time I was forced to teach a whole class of boys Little Women and it was extremely frustrating. The only way I was able to keep their interest was by giving them excerpts of the important or meaningful lines in the book and placing them in order as we listened and read the book. Afterwards, I had them draw out their favourite scenes from the chapters.

Hi Sarah,


Just chiming in with some questions back at you to try and focus your thinking around game use:


I can see that you have identified some "fun" games that you'd like to use. So, can I assume that you are thinking of using the games for affective (motivational) reasons only? What can students learn through the use of those games? Or, what would you like to teach with those games? What specific skills?


Another key question is: What do you as a teacher plan to do around the game play sessions? Playing the game is going to be fun for students, I'm sure, but as you probably know already: fun does not equal learning. I think @Zack has some fine examples of how he incorporates non-gameplay pre and post activities to hone students into specific skills.


Could you perhaps come up with a quick lesson plan around one of the games? Then we could help guide you further.


Hope these questions aid your thinking.



Hello everyone!


@James York You have an excellent point! Fun doesn't always equal to learning. After reading your post, I went back to look for some other games and tried to see how I could apply them to, if not English as a language, then at least to one of the skills, such as listening or speaking.


One of the games I thought useful and engaging is called Unheard, a short enough detective game that has the player solving cases via an audio record and the player moving around the map to listen to different people's conversations. To help the students exercise listening skills and making inferences, we usually have an audio file and then just to test if the students were listening, we would ask them questions they would then have to write down.


However, Unheard is slightly different as it gives students the choice to move around the rooms they want to go to and whose conversation they want to hear. Then, regarding the information they have, they have to make inferences to identify the speakers and answer two or three questions that have to do with the particular cases.


There is one drawback, though. The foul language. The game, to keep their characters intact and to show diversity in their personalities, profanities are used in this, albeit not too many, but still...


So now I'm back to finding more and other games to apply in the classroom.

Sounds like you could totally make a lesson around that game. What age are the students? If they are adolescents, the analysis of swearing, when to use it, why, why not, what it means, how it changes the meaning of a sentence, feelings... etc... could be turned into a lesson itself.

New Posts
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Gil Hova likess to call this an aspect of “personal scale.” It’s how a player’s actions affect their just their experience – outside of other players’ experiences. A modern day adaptation of this is with roll-and-write games where specific actions affect individual players and nothing else. These types of games are all about personal scale: where the entirety of actions are limited to a player’s specific sheet or player board. But outside of these types of strategic bingo games, there are other types of games that have different types of player interactions. Accompanying those actions are other strategies and incentives for taking those types of actions. Types of interaction Different types of actions hold different meanings for players and for the whole game play experience. Those types of actions inform players on how they may perform and take actions. One of the identifiable types of player interactions are those in zero-sum games. Zero-sum is a concept where there is no wasted action or resource. That means that if a player takes an action where they are in a better position or “winning” then another player has lost their position and now they are “losing.” The opposite is also true. There are certain actions that players can make in these conditions that allow them to improve and affect their positions in the game. They are: 1. Attacking The Leader 2. Attacking The Loser 3. Winning vs. Highest Placing 4. Helping vs. Hindering Zero-sum games In zero-sum games, your success has to come at the cost of someone else. That is what make the game “zero-sum.” There is no additional actions ore resources added to the economy of the game. Instead, someone else’s loss is your gain. Attacking the leader One of the most popular actions for player to take in these types of games is to attack the leader. Or at least the attacking the person whose standing is perceived to be the one who is winning. This is done often because this person has more resources, better position, or other advantages that make them a ripe target. Otherwise, there are the subjective reasons of attacking the player who has the most to lose by being attacked. One of the most obvious examples of this in classic board games is in Risk . Here, attacking the strongest player often makes the most sense since they are in a better position to win the game. By attacking the strongest player (as in many war games); you weaken their position and make it more difficult for them to win. Attacking the loser Likewise, attacking the loser can also be a feasible strategy given the design of the game. Attacking the loser is something that can be done if a player’s loss of position or resources would gain the attacking player their position or resources. Attacking the loser – or a weakened player – could be advantageous because they are a player who cannot mount an effective defense against you. An example of this would be in a real-time strategy game Starcraft where attacking the losing or weakest player can be advantageous. That is because they are unable to successfully defend against your attack. A successful attack and elimination of this player would earn you access to their resources which would improve your position. Winning vs. highest placing No matter if a player decides to attack the winning player for subjective purposes or the losing player for the strategic purposes; the main motivation for the player is to continue to play in order to win. However, there are certain circumstances in which the player cannot overcome the leading player in the game. In these cases it means that the player can improve their position, but not enough to win the game. That is when the concept of “playing for position” comes into play. Here, players take actions to perform better than other players. 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A good table top example of this is in the two player game Jaipur . At the end of each round one player may win the Camel Token which grants them an additional five points. That camel token is going to go to one of the two players at the end of the round. So by taking winning it I earn 5 points. But that also means that my opponent loses 5 points. In effect, winning that Camel Token is a 10 point swing in my favor. Wining it is an action that both helps me while also hurting my opponent. Player interaction in team games Team games are especially important for player interaction. In these games, players are engaged in cooperative play with members of their own team. That means that while they make contention part of their play against their opponents, they must also take into account how they can help and support their teammates. Interaction is an incredibly critical element of game play in team games. As in these cases, players need to be able to coordinate and cooperate in order to position their team to win. A great and fun example of team play in player interaction is in the table top game Captain Sonar. In this game, players play as two teams of 4 players. Each team represents the crew of one submarine that is hunting the opposing submarine. The real time nature of the game makes communication and interaction between teammates challenging, but rewarding. This is especially evident when players must compete against the other team for focus and attention. Player interaction in cooperative games Cooperatives games are like the kind of player interaction in team games. However, in cooperatives games, players must work with each other in order to defeat the common opponent: the game. Games like Pandemic set the players up to collaborate, cooperate, and share knowledge and resources. However, considerations have to be made for how that type of cooperation is achieved. Many cooperatives games with open information fall into the trap of quarterbacking. This is where one player - who has a dominant position and understanding of the game, can exercise their will over the other players in the game. The game now becomes a single player endeavor since one person is making the decisions for everyone. In addition, there are cooperatives games with limited personal information such as The Mind and Hanabi where players must cooperate, but can only share limited information. In this case, that means that the player who is the weakest link has an adverse effect on everyone else. Player interaction in games-based learning Games-based learning’s player interaction comes originates between players as well as with the instructional material. This means that formats for cooperative learning and narrative based learning have the greatest impact on player interaction. In games-based learning, players gain by interacting and cooperating with one another similar to team games and cooperative games. In addition, there are opportunities for players to cooperate together against “the game” through challenges where learning outcomes are prioritized. This could take the form of designers creating games-based learning environments where students must pool their knowledge and cooperate to surmount a challenge in the class related to the subject material. Otherwise students could attempt the challenge on their own, but with much less likely chance for success. Closing thoughts Player interaction is a critical element of game-design and games-based learning. For traditional entertainment games, player interaction can take on a more contentious format. That is when players are motivated to defeat each other. In games-based learning, players are incentivized to collaborate, cooperate, and work together to surmount challenges from the instructional material. In either case, player interaction is prioritized as mode for players to engage with the game, class, or game-based learning environment. This article covered player interaction in games-based learning. For more information on how player interaction affects gamification design, check out the free course on Gamification Explained. Dave Eng, EdD Managing Partner dave@universityxp.com www.universityxp.com References Aleknevicus, G. (2003, March). Player Interaction. Retrieved from http://www.thegamesjournal.com/articles/PlayerInteraction.shtml Hova, G. (March, 2019) Why Indirect or Zero Player Interaction. Presented at the Game Developers Conference GDC. San Francisco https://twvideo01.ubm-us.net/o1/vault/gdc2019/presentations/Hova_Gil_Why_Indirect_Zero.pdf Avtalion, O. (2016, September 5). Roll and Write games. Retrieved from https://boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/213815/roll-and-write-games What is quarterbacking in co-op games? (and how to not do it). (2018, March 8). Retrieved from http://www.datenightgaming.com/quarterbacking-co-op-games-not/
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