Lori Duggan teaches game design at South Park High School in Pittsburgh, PA. During the semester-long class, students had been working on a game to sell in Spark Tech Studios. While the school year started off well, the momentum seemed to have paused. Ideas for creating a game initially flowed, and they even tested out some ideas with attendees at a conference in early fall. On paper, the process seemed to be going well. So, why weren’t the students excited about it? Why didn’t they enjoy playing the game they were designing?

Students prepare to survey potential customers.
Students prepare to survey potential customers.

It was already November and the students would soon be switching to another class after the holidays. Lori hated the idea of her students leaving the semester with a game they weren’t proud of and wouldn’t continue to play once they earned their grade. She decided to openly admit her concerns to her students. The students took her lead and voiced their own concerns in a lively discussion. Students agreed the game was boring, and that they didn’t want to sell it on their website. Another student admitted they probably wouldn’t buy the game if they were a customer. Lori saw an opportunity for her students to learn that it’s okay to try and fail – but what would they do now?

Even with the semester coming to an end, the students decided to scrap two months of work and start all over. They learned from the experience and wanted to try again to build a game that they would enjoy playing and be proud to sell. And, just a few short weeks later, the Lie Detector game was created. Using a mix of “category” cards and “truth or lie” cards, players have fun trying to detect what is true and what is a lie. The students loved their new game, and even Lori admitted to enjoying playing the game with her family over the holidays.

“Many lessons were learned – from being okay with failure to taking the lessons learned and trying again. I’m proud that the students had a voice and choice in this outcome. They did not give up. The lessons from this journey are ones that I feel confident my students will remember well as they embark on their future career paths.” ~Lori Duggan