How many of you have watched the new hit show “Utopia” on FOX? If you have, you know that this show follows a group of people who must build and support a society in a remote area. What if I told you that there is a game that your children (and you) can play based on the same concept?
I am thrilled to introduce my readers to a game called Quandary. Designed for players aged 8 and up, it is up to you to shape the future of a new society while learning how to recognize ethical issues and deal with challenging situations in your own lives.
About the Game
I love the diversity of the players in this game. Characters from all walks of life are leading a new human colony on a distant planet. They need to make difficult decisions – ethical decisions – where there are no clear right or wrong answers, but important consequences for themselves, to the other members of the colony, and to the planet Braxos where they live.
My son, Tre, is 12 years old and an avid game player. I asked him to play the game with me, explained the concept to him and surprisingly it piqued his interest. As a mother, I was thrilled that we had found a game that would help him develop his critical thinking skills, along with developing his ability to look at the perspective of others and to make decisions that would benefit the entire colony – not just himself. That is what is so great about Quandary – this game provides the framework, but it doesn’t tell the players what to think. They write the story and make the decisions.
There are three different episodes in the game: Episode 1 Lost Sheep, Episode 2 Water Wars, and Episode 3 Fashion Faction. You can do each of the episodes in whichever order you’d like. The captain (you) can read what the characters are discussing, or you can touch or click on the speech bubbles and have them speak to you.
In Episode 1: ‘Lost Sheep’, a predator native to Braxos is attacking the sheep that the colony uses for food and clothes, but players learn that the predator also has medicinal value that could help the colonists ﬁght off disease.
In Episode 2: ‘Water Wars’, the community’s public water well appears to be polluted, and the only other well belongs to a colonist who is charging for access.
In Episode 3: ‘Fashion Faction’, the colony’s tailor has started making special alterations for his friends to the standard uniform, which some colonists say is dividing the community.
The colonists present the captain with the problem that they are having, and then it is up to you to weigh the facts, the solutions or other opinions. Once you have finished listening to the colonists and categorizing their opinions, it is time to move on and narrow down the solutions that you have chosen. You then have the chance to talk with the colonists about the two solutions you have chosen to explore and get their viewpoints on the solutions. Once you explore their viewpoints, it is time to make a decision to send to the Colonial Council who will ask for your opinions in support of and against the decision, and then give you their decision. Once the decision is handed down from the Colonial Council, you go back to the colonists and carry out your plan.
Don’t like the way that your solution worked? Simply go back and do the challenge again. There are so many outcomes, none being right or wrong, and my son really got into listening to everyone and their viewpoint and being the one to make the final decision. When we originally began playing the game and he thought that he would need to READ everything, he wasn’t thrilled about the prospect. When I showed him he could tap on the speech bubbles and on the character cards and they would speak to him – that was a major selling point. He has since taken my tablet several times and played the game himself, and he even downloaded it to his computer (on his own) and has played it several times online as well. Win/Win for our family!
Quandary Is A Learning App
I have oodles of games on my tablet that I play. They are relaxing, fun, but hardly educational. The games that my boys play; however, I want to be educational. In a twisted, warped way, Jonathan’s Call of Duty game has taught him to work together with others on his team. It has taught him to strategize the best plan of attack and how to execute that plan. The games such as Piano Tiles and Angry Birds help them with their eye-hand coordination. As a parent though, I want more for my kids. I want them to learn life skills without realizing that they are learning.
I love that Quandary helps to teach players about ethical issues and how to make important decisions. Research has shown that well-designed digital games can be really effective learning tools, especially for the development of social and ethical skills – and that is exactly what Quandary aims to support – learning new skills, not learning knowledge. Quandary focuses on these three must have skills:
- Critical thinking
In order to prepare our children for the adult world, we need to develop these critical ethical thinking skills and help them to understand to see the bigger picture when others are going to be affected by their decision also. I also think that Quandary is a great game for teaching kids empathy (something that I think is sorely lacking in our society at times) and helping them to understand the viewpoints of others and enable them to “walk a mile in another person’s shoes” if you will.
Did I mention that Quandary is also a valuable tool for the classroom? There is a special section on the Quandary website just for teachers that details exactly how teachers can use this game in their classroom. It has actually been mapped to the Common Core State Standards in reading, listening, and speaking!
Teachers can use Quandary in the classroom to teach problem solving, communication, information literacy, global awareness, collaboration skills, and creative thinking without the children even realizing that they are learning. They just know that they are having fun in class playing a game!
Award-Winning Game Design
Quandary was developed by a team of experts across the fields of child development, social and emotional learning, and game design. Scholars from Harvard and Tufts University devised the prototype and designers at the MIT Education Arcade and the Learning Games Network (a non-profit spin-off of the MIT Education Arcade) and the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Games+Learning+Society Program, refined the game, which was produced by FableVision, an award-winning storytelling, digital media production, and learning company. You truly are receiving the best game and learning app that you can find from some of the best minds in their field!
Quandary has received the following prestigious awards:
- Games for Change Festival 2013 – Game of the Year
- Parents’ Choice Awards 2013 – Gold Winner (Website)
- Most Meaningful Play 2012 – Most Meaningful Game
- Serious Play Awards 2013 – Silver Winner (Education)
So, as you can see, this is not your ordinary game to keep the kids entertained. It is an amazing FREE APP that you can download from Google Play or from the iTunes App Store. Visit the Quandary website to learn more (be sure to read the Parents section and the Teachers section!) and you will see why we are so excited about this game!
Upcoming Twitter Party
Stay tuned to Life in a House of Testosterone for details on the upcoming Twitter party this fall to discuss the Quandary games and ethics with parents and teachers JUST LIKE YOU! We will be there, and as soon as the details are nailed down, we will be updating this post and sharing the information via our social media platforms to let you know!