Last year, I wrote about how Super Mario’s creator carefully designed the beginning of the game’s very first level to teach players how to play the game.
Recently, I stumbled on this video showing how the most recent Super Mario games continue to thoughtfully introduce new obstacles and challenges.
I don’t think there’s a better explanation of scaffolding than this:
- The new challenge is introduced in a very safe way
- The challenge ramps up. Consequences are introduced.
- The challenge gets a twist, increasing difficulty in a creative way.
- The challenge wraps up with a fun (and optional) final ending.
If the designers have done their jobs, the player should always feel slightly challenged, but never overwhelmed. As teachers, we should aim for the same goal: students who are stimulated but not frustrated. And, above all, the game’s designers are always looking for fun twists to surprise and delight players.