August 12, 2015 by wendy
What makes a game? Is it characters? Is it story? Interactivity? In this week’s lesson, we explore common elements of games and how we can design and build our own games in Scratch.
We’ve covered a lot of concepts over the last 7 lessons, including events, loops, timing, and messaging. All of them are important to making games, but today’s concept might be the most important.
In small groups, give your students a few minutes to brainstorm their favourite games and have each group choose one favourite game. Then come together as a class and create a list of favourite games. Discuss what these games have in common. What makes them games?
Almost all games have rules. Provide an example of a rule, like if the player touches a coin, then the player collects 5 points. See if your students can come up with a list of rules following the same sentence structure.
After listing a few examples, explain that in video games, these rules are called conditionals. A conditional starts with the word if followed by a condition, something that can be true or false. It ends with the word then, which is followed by an action, what to do if the condition is true. Revisit your list of rules. See if your students can identify the conditions and actions.
There are different kinds of conditionals. The one we just covered is called if-then. There is another type of conditional called if-then-else. Can your students guess how it’s different?
If-then-else works just like if-then except it has an extra action after the word else that describes what to do if the condition is false. For example, if I’m feeling tired, then I’ll take a nap, else I’ll play outside. Can your students think of other if-then-else examples?
To gain more experience with conditionals, have your students remix a starter project that contains conditionals like our Maze Starter Project or Quiz Starter Project above. Each project has an example of how to use conditionals and a chance for students to try it themselves!
Once your students feel more comfortable with conditionals, encourage them to add conditionals to their design projects. At the end of the lesson, ask for a few volunteers to share how they incorporated conditionals into their projects.