Created by Math Snacks
Reviewed by Becky Palmer-Scott
Again I find myself in serious game design heaven as I discover another honest-to-goodness learning game, not one of those tiresome “quiz pretending to be a game” shams.
This award-winning game, called Game Over Gopher, is from Math Snacks, a multidisciplinary project at New Mexico State University. It is also featured on GlassLabGames.org, where it can be incorporated into an online student assignment plan.
Game Over Gopher teaches Cartesian coordinate plotting for grades 2-7 and is aligned with Common Core standards. It does this as a tower defense game. In tower defense games, enemies travel along a path toward an object that the player protects. The player’s job is to plant defense mechanisms along the path to destroy enemies before they can get the object. Defense mechanism upgrades are earned as the player gathers resources from other items planted.
This is a perfect scenario to teach students how to plot points, and this is the genius of the game. In Game Over Gopher, players are directed to plant ruby generators at specific coordinates. Once the rubies are generated, they can be used by players to buy carrot launchers that feed the gophers who march toward a big carrot which needs protecting. As the gophers get fed, they fatten up until they dissolve into rainbows.
Like any good game, it starts out simply and becomes more complicated as it goes along, with a variety of tools gradually offered to the player. Interspersed with the main gameplay, players are given other assignments to test their plotting skills, including addition and subtraction using the Cartesian grid.
The graphics, music, and sound effects are engaging and professionally done, which adds to the production value. The game’s website includes teacher information such as how it meets Common Core standards and how to incorporate it into a lesson plan. Best of all, the game is free and browser-based, so it can be played on a variety of devices.
Becky Palmer-Scott is the editor of Special Ed Tech, the director of Aspiring Games Foundation, and the lead game designer of Seriously Entertaining Education.