Slag om Dondervoort/Battle for Dondervoort

In short The Battle for Dondervoort is a transmedial, social school game that teaches youngsters (12-15) about an important and unique part of Dutch history in an unconventional and innovative way. Watch the trailer: About the game The game transforms the classroom for a week into the fictional fortified city named Dondervoort during the Dutch Eighty Years’ War (1558-1648). Every student has a custom-made house and plays a different character in this city, for example a fortification master, a host, a carpenter, a thief, a metal worker, the counsel, a noblewoman and so on. The goal of the class is to defend their city from the Spanish invaders, which attack every night. In order to do so, they have to work together and share information with the rest of the class that only their character has received by mail. But they need to be aware… there are also traitors among them who secretly work for the Spaniards… Who to trust? And who wins the game at the end of the week: the loyal civilians or the traitors? During the week teachers, from different specialties, can use unique Dondervoort lessons. Since students can earn game assets by following the lessons, they motivate the students and support the game play. At the moment teaching packages are available for History, Mathematics, Arts and Gymnastics. At the end students will make a field trip to a fortified city nearby their school – Urban game. Similar to the school game, the students have to prevent secret saboteurs to cause misfortune. Therefore, they have to discover important buildings in the city and expose the saboteurs. This way do the students not only have a classroom experience about fortified cities. They also visit a real fortified city and are able to associate Dutch history with the present. Client and design team The client it was made for is the Dutch Association for Fortified Cities (www.vestingsteden.nl). It is one of the first products from the R&D Group Games and Interaction at the Utrecht School of Arts (gi.hku.nl). The design team consisted of students from different backgrounds, designers, researchers and the client. The design process, including game images together with images from its usage in educational settings, can be seen at our special blog: www.slagomdondervoort.posterous.com. Launch and use of the game The game was launched on the 1st of April 2012 (during the annual festival of Brielle - this fortified city celebrates their liberation of the Spaniards - 1 April 1572 - every year). The launch was part of a modern Maurits’ expedition (in reference to the historical expedition that Maurits – the most successful Dutch general and Prince during the Dutch Eighty Years’ War). Since then, more than 25 schoolclasses have been playing the game. The overall feedback is positive. New Learning Principles The game steps away from standard teaching principles and offers new ones better suited to the digital generation, based on play community principles provided by DeKoven in his book The Well-played Game (2002). We give two examples below. 1. Not every student in the game ‘must’ learn the same material; they learn what fits their personality best. In the beginning they take a special test that appoints them with a suitable character to play. Do they like to gossip in real life? Then they become a gossipy noblewoman. An analytic student will become a fortification master who builds the defense around the city. This is an important strength (also confirmed by the teachers involved): the game stimulates cooperation between all students. Each character has valuable information and is needed to win the battle successfully. 2. Learning not only takes place inside the classroom, but also outside the lessons at school and at home the play community shares information and uses this to win the game. To conclude The game not only uses digital technologies, but also combines analogue possibilities with the digital, virtual world in order to create a transmedial, social game that crosses boundaries and thus becomes interesting and personal for each student. No yawning students…guaranteed!

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