Keystone Arcade

The Keystone Arcade

Our Inspiration

Step 1: Brainstorming and the Driving Question

"What is an arcade game?"

To begin our project, we asked the students about arcade games they have played, experiences they have had, what they liked about the games, etc as a multi-age, whole-school group. Through this process, students begin to reflect upon and visualize the games they have experienced.

Next, they brainstormed about the working parts of games like the gears, levers, balls, etc. We did this to go beyond the experience of the game into the functionality of the game that they will need when building a game.

To finalize our preparations for our field research at a local arcade, we brainstormed a list of questions that would be good to ask of each game. They came up with the following:

  • How does it work?

  • How many parts will it take to build it?
  • Does it have ball or something to throw?
  • Are there buttons or levers?
  • Are there plungers?
  • Is there a hammer?
  • Are there joysticks with buttons?
  • Does it require a pedal?
  • Is there a model of a real thing to interact with?
  • Are there cranks or wheels?
  • Are there gear shifts or handlebars?
  • Are there pressure plates?
  • How do you make parts move?
  • How does the game give out tickets?
  • How do you know if a game gives tickets?
  • How could I make a screen?
  • How do you make the game start?
  • How does it know you win?
  • How do you interact with the game?

Step #2 - Action Research

We loaded up as a school and traveled to a local arcade to do some action research. While there, students were grouped in multi-age pairs or trios and assigned to a specific game to investigate. They needed to play the game, take pictures of the primary features of the game, and record the game in action. Finally, they needed to look through the list of questions and be ready to answer those questions upon our return. Then we gave them all some time to experience many of the games in the arcade and play for about an hour.

When we got back to the school in the afternoon, we gathered the pictures and video and had students present the details of the games they observed with the aid of the pictures and video.

Step #3 - Prep and Gather Materials

The next time that we gathered as a whole group, the students brainstormed a list of items that they could gather from their homes as building materials. Most of this consisted of boxes, bottles, lids, and other recyclable goods. Over the next week, students brought in materials to add to the collection of building materials.

Step #4 - Building Day #1

When we got to our first building day, most of the older students had a good starting idea for where they wanted to go with their design. Some even created initial sketches to help flesh out that idea. The younger students brainstormed ideas. We allowed them to self group or work individually for this project; however, we encouraged the older students to bring in a younger student to work with them. Then, they got to work building as teacher circulated to support their efforts and ask questions to help them refine their ideas.

Building Day #2

In our second whole-school building day, students worked to further refine their ideas, name their games, and decorate. They worked out logistics in their designs with regards to the rules and rewards of their games as well. They also began to play test their designs with others.