Shawn Young, an 11th grade high school physics teacher from Sherbrooke, Quebec, Canada, has sought to bring popular game mechanics from video game RPGs to the classroom to improve student involvement and performance. His system is named World of Classcraft after the most popular massive multiplayer online role playing game in the world, Blizzard’s World of Warcraft.
Like World of Warcraft, World of Classcraft uses the positive reinforcement techniques of earning experience points to gain useful abilities when players do well to reward them, and the familiar negative reinforcement method of losing HP and eventually character death to punish players when they do poorly. Players earn XP for each point above 70 on exams and for actions such as finding a mistake in the class notes, giving correct answers during class discussions, and helping other students. Players lose HP for each point they make below 60 on an exam and for arriving late, disrupting class, slacking off, and not turning in homework on time. With enough XP, players would earn abilities that they could use for various benefits specific to the character class they chose at the start of the semester. These abilities cost action points, of which they gain a little every day. The priest can heal classmate’s HP, open or close a window in the classroom, ask the teacher if his answer to a question is correct on an exam, listen to his iPod during classwork, or have access to their notes during exams. The mage can leave the classroom or be late for a limited amount of time, regain some AP, gain extra time on an exam, transfer damage to AP, or get the class hints on an exam question. The warrior can eat during class, regain some HP, take damage for a classmate, hand in a paper one day later, or use a pre-made cheat sheet on an exam.
Teachers act as game masters, playing along in their own way by having semi-daily events that cause positive and negative effects on the class. Young has created a web interface to run the game for teachers wanting see how it improves class performance. He has gone on to found his own web development company, Connected Factory, and is also attempting to get into space through the AASA’s program to send a teacher into space.
Correction: It has come to our attention that we used the incorrect logo for the program. We have since replaced the Warcraft in the Classroom logo, which is an unrelated program, with the correct one. We apologize for the inconvenience.