Video Game Exploration

During my video game exploration since the beginning of class I’ve been able to find some pretty cool video games that my students can use to perfect their math skills. After the in class examples, I was able to narrow down my suggestion, trying to make sure I had a game that was pleasantly frustrating as well as one be a suitable practice for one of the topics I know for a fact take lots of learning by doing. The game that I decided on is called High-Stakes Heist and it is a game designed for middle school students to perfect the order of operations. The order of operations is very well known as PEMDAS or Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally which stands for Parenthesis, Exponents, Multiplication, Division, Addition and Subtraction. The game can be found on The game is fun and challenging at the same time. Offering you a set of equations and giving you a certain amount of time to correctly use the order of operations to break the lock safe (solving 4 equations correctly). I think it’s a very good practice of the order of operations because it won’t challenge the students too bad that they will quit but students will still be granted a challenge answering the questions accurately and before time runs out. This game displays Gee’s principle of pleasantly frustrating.


4 thoughts on “Video Game Exploration

  1. Hi Taylor! It’s wonderful that you found a game that embodies James Gee’s principle of being pleasantly frustrating. It is so important for games to be difficult and challenge kids, but not to the point that they give up because the game is too hard. At the same time games are boring and kids want to stop playing them when they don’t challenge them by being too easy, so it’s awesome that high-stakes heist is a pleasantly frustrating game. I do however question your decision to choose a drill and practice game. In class we discussed how drill and practice games should be used very sparingly in the classroom. I also found it interesting that you mentioned that you wanted to find a game that was similar to Math Baseball, despite math baseball being used as an example of what a bad game is that should not be used for classroom instruction. I wonder if there are better math games that are out there that are not drill and practice, like for example a puzzler videogame, a sandbox video game, or a strategy video game. All of these options seem like better alternatives than a traditional drill and practice video game.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you for your input! Due to High-Stakes Heist being a game showing how to use order of operations I didn’t look at it as a bad “drill and practice”, from our class conversation I didn’t take away that drill and practice was bad, I think it really more depends on the skill that you are practicing. Just as linear equations, order of operations can trip you up no matter how well you think you have them down.


  3. Hey Taylor, I do agree with James Gee’s principle of bringing a video game that is pleasantly frustrating because having a game that will challenge the students enough that they will want to play and be interested in but not be too challenging that they will give up will keep the middle schoolers engage in the game throughout the duration of playing it. Billy brought up the point of “High Stakes Heist” being a drill and practice but I think that can be easily fixed in the classroom. I found it hard as a math teacher to find video games that were not drill and practice but I feel like as teachers we can add a little twist in the classroom to make it feel not as much of a drill and practice. I brought up the idea of having a tournament where students play against each other and the winner will advance each round until the championship. These will give the students an incentive to not lose focus on the game and really focus on getting the answers right. I think it is important for students to not think that they are learning while playing these games because they are so fun but as a teacher, you know that the more focused that your students are on the game the more they will be learning.


  4. Hi Taylor, I think it was a great idea to use James Gee’s idea of a video game that is pleasantly frustrating. I love that idea because every video game I have ever liked had to be challenging enough to keep me interested in playing it. I also chose a math game to play and I very much enjoy math, so I found it interesting that both you and Michael used a math game. I believe that drill and practice games are not a bad thing and that they allow students to really work on their skills. Like Michael talked about I believe as the teacher you could give the students certain goals to pass in order to keep the students engaged in the game. It is hard for a math video game to not be considered a drill and practice game because most of what math is at these younger age levels is learning the different facts. I like that you talked about “Math Baseball” because I remember as a kid I would play that game and I absolutely loved it. Overall, I really liked your game choice and the selection process that went in to you eventually choosing to blog about this particular game.


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