Overview

in which the player creates statements by linking (“matching”) concepts displayed as balls (see Figure 3). A statement consists of two concepts linked by one of four predetermined relation types. The game can be played either as two player game or as single player game with a bot. Each pair of players sees the same game field (concepts) and the goal is to agree with the teammate on as many relations as possible in a given time. To agree on a relation both players have to create it. If they agree on a relation, they score points and get time bonuses. Players may see the relations of their teammates, but not the relation types. The initial relations of the player are visualized by hour glasses and the relations of the teammate by question marks . If the teammates agree on a relation, this relation is displayed by stars , if they disagree, it is displayed by red x.
As knowledge domain we use the domain of food safety and hazardous material regulations, which is an important topic of further education in the German food industry. The considered concepts are specific situations, actions, dangerous substances and edibles, which can be linked by using the four semantic relations “is similar to”, “is more general than”, “results in” and “then you may not”.

Feasible statements are for example:

*    <Chicken><is similar to><turkey hen>
*    <Machine overheats><results in> <fire danger>
*    <Oil starts burning><then you may not> <extinguish the fire with water>

The game has been designed as casual game: The rules of the game are very easy to learn, the controls are simple, single play sessions are short and agreements are instantly rewarded. Casual games are considered as “games for all”, which not only appeal to (hardcore) gamers but to the mass audiences irrespective of their age, gender or background (Kuittinen, Kultima, Niemelä & Paavilainen, 2007). They are not very time consuming and can be played occasionally. Thus, this game genre seems appropriate to our divergent target group.
There are several incentives for playing the game considering different types of players: For competitive players there are high scores and time bonuses, which are a well-known and often used incentive since early arcade games. Furthermore, players can collect “achievements”, which are trophies for solving certain predefined tasks. In Matchballs achievements are gained e.g. for playing a given number of games with another player (“team player”) or with the bot (“machine friend”) or for getting certain amounts of points or extending the game for certain time spans (see Figure 4). Achievements are a more recent kind of incentive often used in modern console games. They not only address competitive players, but also people with collector’s passion, who want to unlock the full set of obtainable awards. While competitive players might tend to play against the bot to be not dependent on the teammate, for team players the possibility to play together with another human is an incentive of its own.
While playing the game the players have to remember facts and rules in the context of food safety and hazardous material regulations. Thus, it can be used in a corresponding course for training and recapitulation, not only in the class room, but also online at home.

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Manager: Nils Malzahn
Developer: Dominik Kloke, Sabrina Ziebarth