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Serious Games Introducing Students To Physical And Human Geography

Sprite’s Quest - Seedling Saga, developed by CFORP based in Canada, has won bronze honors in the 2016 International Serious Play Awards competition under the K-12 Geography category.

This is a series of two 2D platformer games developed to introduce 7th and 8th graders to various concepts of physical and human geography. The Serious Games have taken 2 years to complete from concept to pilot product. They are available in French and English, through Unity web player and as native iOS tablet apps.

In the game, map and graph literacy questions, factoids, and item collection create moments of explicit learning, while the gaming component uses a “Preparation for Future Learning” approach. By recognizing vocabulary, events, and features including graphics, capabilities, and limitations of a certain level, students gain experience with geographical features and relationships of a real-world location. The intent is to then further explore their “first-hand” experience with geographic phenomena and unpack the important concepts in a literacy component that accompanies the game.

The game starts when a water sprite is surprised by a group of seedlings in its home cloud. The sprite decides to bring the seedlings back to their respective homes on Earth after it learns that the seedlings accidentally followed the sprite back to its cloud during its travels.

While kids love Sprite’s Quest because of its classic game mechanics well suited for their age, they implicitly take in visual information about the landscapes they are travelling in.

Students are taken to six different geographic locations re-imagined as 2D game terrain. The gaming component lets players move the sprite, jump, and use water powers and state change to alter the terrain and/or move forward in their quest.

Through the highly accurate and spectacular visuals, students discover the physical geography of countries illustrating their geography curriculum. The game acts as a “curiosity enhancer”.

The value proposition of utilizing classic game mechanics to fully engage grade 7 and 8 Geography students is fully met, blurring the line between gameplay and learning contexts: game elements and instructional elements are seamlessly integrated and connection transparent to the player.

According to the developers, teachers appreciate the resource because it is well suited for 21st century's learning abilities and therefore helps them into offering dynamic courses. In French schools, it is most appreciated as it is one of the few educational games available to complete regular lessons on the subject.