QUEST! Slaying Dragons and Experiential Learning

May 9 2024 – Mitch Whitehead |

Imagine a training program that ditches lectures and icebreakers for questing and adventure, where participants become heroes on an epic adventure to build their skills and slay their dragons. This isn’t fantasy; it’s the core of QUEST, a game-based system for learning experience design that can transform learners’ experiences into a true Hero’s Journey.

Our Story Begins…

QUEST began life as an Erasmus+ funded project that aimed to equip educators with the skills to integrate technology into their teaching and learning. As part of this project, teachers were given an immersive experience of game-based learning for which we designed the first version of QUEST. This experience then formed the basis for the full QUEST system; a simple, robust, and engaging approach to vibrant game-based learning experience design.

Building the Hero Within Characters and Skills

Taking place in the Bucegi mountains of Romania, the original QUEST workshop drew upon the towering Peleş castle and the creativity and enthusiasm of 24 teachers from across Europe to craft an unforgettable learning experience. Rather than focusing on knowledge acquisition, QUEST was interested in true transformation for our participant’s teachers through the acquisition of new skills, attitudes and values. As part of QUEST, participants took on new characters – wizards, healers, diplomats, champions – each with unique strengths aligned with core teaching proficiencies. These characters solved challenges, overcame obstacles, and gained new skills as they adventured. Each of these new powers connected with the core character and equipped the participants with new, inventive, and powerful ways of solving problems. Just imagine you’re a (tech) Wizard and you finally unlock your Wi-Fi power – you’d be unstoppable!

The Power of Reflection: From Characters to Educators

One of the game’s strengths was its ability to facilitate reflection. Participants used character sheets (see above on the picture) to track their progress throughout the workshop and these became powerful tools for them to reflect on their skill development and growth as educators. They could see, in black and white, who they had become through their journey with QUEST. Using characters in this way also gave the participants an important psychological distance in the work that they were doing that allowed them to be more creative, take more risks, and try new things. After all, if you take a risk and it doesn’t work out it’s the character, not you, who heroically fails – with the stirring sounds of the Lord of the Rings soundtrack surging in the background, no doubt.

The Heart and Soul of QUEST:

  • Collaboration over Competition: The game fosters teamwork and creativity, not individual rivalry. The QUEST experience had a strong focus on what can be achieved in small groups – our adventuring parties – rather than as individuals. Most often, these groups were made up of different characters, finding out how to use their strengths together to achieve their goals.
  • Motivation Through Play: Autonomy, mastery, and purpose – the hallmarks of intrinsic motivation – are embedded in the game’s design. Characters and players could make a huge range of choices in how they tackled the challenges we gave them, giving them ownership and autonomy at every stage. We also ensured that they were able to see, and share, their mastery as their characters gained new skills and powers. Finally, the work was rich in purpose, relating to technology in teaching and learning and the challenges faced by teachers across Europe.
  • Reflection over Goals: The game prioritized meaningful reflection and learning over simply achieving objectives. We didn’t want our participants simply ticking off challenges, so every step was designed to foster creative thought, critical thinking, and meaningful reflection.
  • Encouraging Desired Behaviour: Game mechanics subtly nudged participants towards behaviours that would lead to success. QUEST explicitly rewards the kinds of behaviours that the participants had, themselves, identified as crucial for success and collaboration.

The Future of Gamified Learning: A Universal System

The core mechanics of QUEST were built for a specific Erasmus+ project, but the full QUEST system can be used in a whole range of contexts and situations. It is light, simple, flexible, and easy to utilise making it perfect for learning experience design work that focuses on growth, development, and the learning of new skills and approaches. The core game mechanics are highly adaptable and can be applied to any domain. The system can also make use of themes and styles to suit any need or interest helping to build user engagement. The key ingredients for successful adaptation include:

  • A specific set of skills to develop.
  • Distinct learner personas to target.
  • A well-defined domain for quest creation.

Join the QUEST Workshop at LXDCON’24

This LXDCON’24 workshop is your gateway to the world of QUEST. We’ll delve into the story behind the game, meticulously dissecting its design, implementation, and the thrills of running such a unique experience. But the journey doesn’t end there. We’ll then embark on an interactive session where you’ll explore the QUEST system. You’ll create characters, experiment with mechanics, and discover how to leverage the power of QUEST or similar frameworks for your own learning experience design projects.

Get ready to unleash your inner hero and embark on an unexpected adventure with us at LXDCON’24 in this workshop on Friday June 14 at 11.00AM GMT+2!

As we embark on the QUEST together, you’ll gain valuable knowledge and discover the immense potential of gamification in transforming ordinary training programs into extraordinary journeys of discovery.

Get your tickets for LXDCON!

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