Gamification 101[9]: Coming Up With New Quests

Approximate Reading Time: 4 minutes

This is Part 9 in my continuing saga of my current iteration of a gamified course.

quests-2It occurs to me that it might be worth spending a little more time exploring the process of coming up with new quests. I spend a great deal of time doing that when I first designed this course and had a lot of fun doing it.

Giving these different names to my assignments somehow disconnected me from what I had been doing (a good thing after 35 years of teaching). By the way, I should say  right up front that I’m pretty sure I could never have done this when I was new to teaching. Here are a few guiding questions that might help you come at the process of designing assignments a little differently.

Questions to ask yourself:

  • What do people in your field need to be able to do?
  • What skills and knowledge do they need (and which might be appropriate for the current level of learners)?
  • Are there any bigger tasks you can break up into smaller pieces? (Big projects are fine, but we should also be giving them littler things they can do to earn marks.)
  • Are there any traditional assignments that can be modified or broken up into smaller bits?
  • How can you make them more fun / playful?**
  • Once you have a task picked out, which course objectives does it address, and in what way? (This is really important. The things your students are asked to do should be connected to the course goals in clear ways.)

Like I said before, using MMO quest categories to classify my assignments has opened up possibilities I had not considered before ( – notice I am using assignment / learning task / quest interchangeably. In the end, I don’t care what my students want to call them as long as I know what they’re talking about, AND as long as they do them.)

Here are a few more examples of MMO quests and possible assignment equivalents. In each case, look at the MMO description of the quest and see if you can think of some additional task that fits your course that could be described that way.

If you think of any to add, please post a reply!!

  Usual Meaning: Possible Learning Tasks:
Achievement The quest is to reach a certain achievement, such as a particular level or craftskill rank. These would be the kinds of assignments / learning tasks that are typically given out as “regular assignments”. These are typically not repeatable (i.e. learners can submit ONE per course), and would normally be worth 5-10% of the final course grade. In a gamified course, these are also not repeatable, and in a 1000 XP course, would be worth 50-100XP.
Boss Battle The boss in a game is a major opponent, so the boss battle is the on fought against that major opponent. It is often necessary to reach a certain level of achievement or gain a minimum amount of experience (sometimes by challenging lesser opponents) before one is allowed to enter into a boss battle. This should be something relatively unique as well as something that can normally only be attempted after a certain level of achievement has been attained or after a certain amount of time has passed. A final exam is a good example of a boss battle.
Chain A quest that is part of a chain must be unlocked by first completing previous quests in the chain. A series of quests that must be completed in the order specified.
Collection Collect X of Y: A character is tasked with finding a certain number of objects of a certain type to continue the quest. This will be some sort of data gathering activity, such as creating a class poll. In that case it would include mounting the poll, collecting data, and analyzing and reporting on the results.
Craftskill In order to complete the mission something needs to be crafted by the player (or developed by some kind of craftskill). The nature of the ‘craft’ will vary depending on the course being taught. It should be something that is an appropriate ‘craft’ for the topic of the course. For example, creating an avatar might be an appropriate craft in an online course, a drawing might be appropriate in an art class, and a program might be appropriate in a computer programming class. To determine what kinds of things could be crafts in your course, ask yourself what your learners can make.
Delivery The quest giver wants something delivered to someone else. OUT-OF-CLASS: This will usually be a request to find out more information on a topic or concept and to prepare something that can be shared with the class. It will be something done outside of class time. It will normally be assigned in on class and then examined in a subsequent class. It will likely be some sort of GoogleDocs Exercise; e.g. Share a link; answer a question
Fetch Find an item, weapon or key and bring it to someone or something. Retrieve a link, image, article, or other resource.  Bring something to class to share.
Persuasion Convince an NPC of a certain position, using dialog. Write a reflection to an article/video/etc. Write a position paper on some topic.
Talk -To Talk to a given NPC. This can be used for class interaction or communication, such as commenting on a post or article written by another player.
Test of Lore Listen to an NPC and answer the questions correctly. Quiz or test.
Timed Complete the objective in the given amount of time. These are quests that will have a natural expiry date, such as posting an Introduction to the Group.

** NOTE: Be very careful about trying to make things funny or playful. Fun is one of those things that tends to be very personal, so your idea of fun may not be your students’ idea of fun. I’m sure many of us can remember those teachers or professors who seemed to be hugely amused by the things they did or said, and we thought they were lame, or worse yet, disturbing.


gamificationIf you are interested in following my course journal, watch for the “Gamification 101” heading.

Also, for more information on gamification, check out my website here.

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