Classcraft is a free fantasy role-playing game built for classrooms and loosely modeled on World of Warcraft. The game is designed so that groups of 5-6 students play together on a team to complete quests. Developed by Shawn Young, a Canadian high school physics teacher, the game is more akin to social engineering than physics. Students can earn real world benefits, like the opportunity to bring notes to a test, through in-game participation and can also earn game points through real world actions, like answering a question correctly in class. The game increases engagement and is designed to increase critical thinking, problem solving skills, and collaboration skills.
According to Timonious Downing, a 7th Grade English/Language Arts teacher, the game combines the classroom control features of ClassDojo with the collaborative game experience of World of Warcraft. The graphics in the game are high quality and teachers have a lot of control over the content and action in the game thanks to a robust and detailed command center on the backend. The teacher area also includes an activity feed of student progress, analytics, and a grade book to keep track of student projects.
Successfully integrating the game into the yearlong curriculum requires know-how and experimentation, and since it is meant to be an immersive academic year experience, such experimentation might be difficult for teachers. Classcraft offers free demo class creation so teachers can test the product, but it might be hard to project the results with actual students. The game also operates on a freemium model, with several important features including mobile access and character customization locked behind a paywall.
While recent research has shown that World of Warcraft helps players learn robust habits and improve their thinking skills through gameplay, it's not clear that Classcraft offers the same benefits. Further research is required to demonstrate whether Classcraft could be developed to share these qualities with WoW. Classcraft, however, has been picked up by many eager and willing teachers. This game could be the ticket to creating a sense of community and increasing engagement in the classroom despite the skills and commitment needed for setup.
The Bottom Line:
Let the games begin.
Image: via Educreations