Digital Video Games Approach: Cricket

“The purpose of games as learning (and other game-like forms of learning) should be to make every learner proactive, collaborative, reflective, critical, creative and innovative problem solver.” – James Paul Gee

As I discussed in my last post a Digital Video Games Approach is not ‘just’ gamification. It is a games based approach, using pedagogical principles, with the main learning outcome being in the cognitive domain, focusing on the developing participants meta-cognitive skills, such as planning, monitoring and evaluating their own learning.

Pedagogical Principles of Digital Video Games Approach

Below are the pedagogical principles that I used to guide my lesson planning, game design, task design and interactions with the pupils:

DVGA Pedagogical Principle Explanation of Pedagogical Principle 
Missions Learning intentions of the lessons aren’t linked to explicit technical or tactical outcomes, but completing the mission. This is a key part of the design of a digital video games approach.
Level-Ups The game becomes progressively harder (moving from simple to complex problems) when individuals or teams have success. The problems that participants should solve should be the same but different.
Superpowers How to help if the game becomes one sided, without changing the game. It’s only temporary. How do you find out the most effective way for using it, both individually and as a team.
Pauses The participants are in charge of pausing the game; deciding when they need help and what type of help they want. Help can be offered through the 4C’s which are cheat, change, clue, challenge.
Saving Progress The game and individual levelling is saved at the end of one lesson, which allows participants to start the next lesson where they left off.
Fish Tank An option for players to drop out of the game and practice. This is where they can also gain superpowers in implement into the game.
Boss Level How to win the game!

Lesson Zero

Lesson Zero is a term coined by Dr Ash Casey. It is the time prior to the start of a new unit of work where you are going to teach in a new method, where you tell the participants about the approach. For pupils in a PE class it is a helpful way to prepare them to start thinking of learning in a different way and how to support each other in that process. The sorts of things that can happen in lesson zero are explaining the learning intentions of the unit, the level of responsibility of the pupils, demonstrate the set up and structure of the lesson, model behaviours that are needed for success, organise teams, allow teams to discuss and generate questions about the lesson etc. It is something I highly recommend doing if looking to implement a DVGA for the first time, and it can be done either as a lesson prior to starting the unit or in a tutor, break or lunch time if you have that option.

There were 32 participants so I split them into 4 teams of 8 which were based on their previous experience of striking and fielding games. The set-up was below – 2 cricket pitches of 25m radius and an area of practice with equipment called the ‘fish bowl’. The teams were taught how to set up the pitches and the practice area and were expected to do this (and pack away) in every future lesson. Finally in lesson zero each team played a reduced version of the game and taught basic umpiring and scoring skills. This was to allow them to set up and start playing, scoring and officiating at the beginning of the first lesson with minimal support.

The Mission, Levelling up and the Boss Level

The Mission is to unlock all the oppositions fielders. The game starts at level 1, which meant that both sides when fielding had their fielders locked on cones. The cones were placed near the boundary and each player picked one at the beginning of their fielding session and stayed there throughout the 10 overs apart from when bowling. They could start to move off their cones when the bowler started their run-up. At the end of the game the team who had scored the most amount of runs won (if it was a draw both teams were considered to have won). This means they Level-Up and the next game they play the opposition team are allowed to have one fielder unlocked. An unlocked player means they can field anywhere they want on the pitch. Therefore each win makes it harder for the winning team as they will face an opponent with more and more fielders unlocked. Once a team had reached Level 8 they could take on the Boss Level, which meant they had to score over a hundred runs against an opposition who had all their fielders unlocked.

The games had some rules to follow:

  • 2 runs awarded for a wide and a no ball, no extra balls bowled apart from the last over.
  • All players must bowl one over. Final overs can be decided by Captain.
  • Scoring and umpiring done by batting side, by players who are not batting.
  • Before the game starts both teams must state what superpowers are being used.
  • Only one superpower per person can be used each game. If Level 3 is unlocked in all classes then player also receives ‘extra life’ super power.
  • Batsman who are not batting can earn points to unlock superpowers through umpiring, scoring or completing the ‘class missions’.
  • At the end of each game the results, game levels and superpower levels are recorded and the next game started.
  • If a batsman didn’t bat in the previous game, they are at the top of the order in the next game.

Fish Tank and Superpowers

The Fish Tank is an area away from the games where individuals, pairs, groups or teams could practice with guidance from other players or the teacher. It could be used by any player at anytime, but it was mainly used by players who were waiting for their turn to bat. They had two main choices; either practice skills they wanted to practice or unlock super powers they could use in the game. They could also ask for assistance either from their peers or from the teacher when practising or unlocking superpowers.

The Superpowers were designed around a class system; batting, bowling and fielding. To unlock a specific superpower you had to complete the task, starting at level 1 and then working your way to level 3. Once unlocked a participant could use only one superpower in each game. Before a game started each player had to nominate which superpower they were going to use and write it down on the score sheet. If it wasn’t written down then they had no superpowers for that game. It could not be changed during the game, only in-between games. Players could work on any superpower they wanted and record their levelling, but they needed to demonstrate their ability to a teacher before unlocking the superpower and using it in a game. If a player managed to unlock level 3 in batting, bowling and fielding they were awarded the additional superpower of extra life (needed to be got out twice when batting) which they could on top of their chosen superpower.

Batting Superpowers

Bowling Superpowers

Fielding Superpowers

Pausing and Saving Progress

At any time an individual or team could Pause the game and decide what support they need. This can be done through four key interventions; cheats, clues, challenges and changing. Cheats are if individuals or teams are really struggling so for example looking to level up either individually or as a team if the games are being one sided. Clues are when they might need help with technique or tactics and get direct input from the teacher. Challenges are for teams or individuals who are finding things easy or want to be pushed, a perfect example of this is implementing a constraint on able batsman within the game. Changing is where individuals and teams discuss and collaborate to change something within the game or practice. An example of this was awarding superpower levelling points for players who were umpiring or scoring (5 points for every over).

At then end of each lesson all games and individual levels were clearly recorded to Save Progress. This was to ensure that at the beginning of the next lesson individuals and teams started from where they left off, unlike most times where it is started from scratch with new teams and new learning intentions. All game levels and skills levels that had been obtained in previous lessons were kept and this provided the starting point of the next lesson.

A Digital Video Games Approach takes the following view:

Play drives the learning.

Enjoy the playing and get better at it.

Think strategically, not tactically.

Make the game hard, but doable.

Resources for designing and implementing a Digital Video Games Approach:

Blog Posts

Space Age Whizz Kids by Peter Prickett

Moving up to the next level – adapting video games design to games-based learning by Andrew Beaven

Lock ‘em up — ‘video game design’ by Andrew Beaven

Using Good Digital Game Design (Amy Price’s website)

Podcasts and Videos

Talent Equation Podcast – Playing with a ‘clumsy pig’ and using a ‘sandbox’ in a ‘fishtank’ a conversation about games with Amy Price

Magic Academy Podcast – Digital Video Games Approach with Amy Price

Liverpool FA Podcast – Games Coaching with Amy Price

Surrey FA CPD – Digital Video Games Approach

Academic Literature

Good Video Games and Good Learning

Can Gee’s good (digital) game design features inform game-based sport coaching?

Game Play: What Does It Mean for Pedagogy to Think Like a Game Developer?

Learning to Play Soccer: Lessons on Meta-cognition from Video Game Design

Coaching Games: Comparisons and Contrasts

2 thoughts on “Digital Video Games Approach: Cricket

  1. ‪This is absolutely fascinating — reframing a term- (or season-) long cricket coaching programme as a video game.‬
    So many ideas to take from this.

    I love the “levelling up” within live matchplay; that so much of the activity is actual game play; that development of skills is incentivised beyond the arcane “get better”, by awarding cumulative superpowers; “pauses” for players to devise new tactics (or for coaches to ‘nudge’ them).

    ‪And yet, something rankles, with this and all video games approaches — does this highly structured approach teach how to play cricket, or just the skills needed to succeed in “cricket – the video game”?‬

    ‪I’m not comfortable with arbitrarily defined “superpowers”, for example — isn’t pitching 50 deliveries on a defined target superpower enough, in the ‘real’ world?‬

    Because the perfect off-break, that curves away, dips, bounces & spins back to the top of off might be reward enough…even when the batter mows it over cow corner, or gets away with an inside edge past leg stump, or pads up only for the umpire to turn down the LBW appeal…

    “Boss level” surely has to be playing a “proper” game of cricket?
    Not facing Jofra Archer (the ultimate boss?), but competing against external, unpredictable opposition, who might well be playing with different skills, different tactical objectives?

    Taking the skills beyond the closed environment of the video console and onto the playing field is the ultimate boss level.
    Does the digital video games approach prepare players to take that risk?


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.