Gamification is defined as the application of typical elements of game playing (e.g., point scoring, competition with others, rules of play) to other areas of activity, typically as an online marketing technique to encourage engagement with a product or service. For my analysis, I chose to play Lemonade Stand, which is a serious, and educational game from the website Cool Math Games. This game has been used by many schools to teach students about the practical applications of math. I will discuss the game mechanics, obstacles, and how this game accomplishes its goals.
In the world of Lemonade Stand, you are the owner of a lemonade stand and as the player, you are in the lemonade stand business and have full control over pricing, quality control, inventory, and purchasing supplies and ingredients, although there are still rules. The weather is also a big factor of the game, because it determines how many customers will show up and affects sales. The goal of the game is to make as much money as possible and obtain a high score.
Players are also able to choose if they want to play for 7, 14, or 21 game days. Lemonade Stand uses gamification methods to help kids have a more positive experience in learning math. I think that this works because it does involve thinking and doing mental math. Lemonade Stand is a highly recommended game and has recieved mostly positive reviews.
Lemonade Stand also challenges the player by including in game obstacles. The game makes customer statisfaction a goal and tells the player at the end of each day if the satisfaction was pitiful, average, or good. Also, in the game speech bubbles from the customers occasionally come up and they say things like “more ice” and “more lemons.” There are also points in the game where customers taste your lemonade, but they don’t give you money because they did not like it. The weather is also an obstacle because if there is a bad forecast, not as many customers will come by the lemonade stand.
Through the use of Lemonade Stand, players learn practical skills and how to apply important business concepts like assets, net profit, and cost per glass. The goal of the game has always been to make learning math fun and positive for children. Lemonade Stand has also been featured in Let’s Play videos to give commentary on how to play.
In class, we specifically talked about the game and how it taught basic economics such as supply and demand, responding to customer feedback, and encouraging the player to experiment with their lemonade products to earn the highest amount of money. I think this game is very effective at teaching kids to enjoy math when i consider all of the skills they are being taught from playing it. I feel like this visual experience also translates to applying these business concepts in real life.
For example, running a lemonade stand in real life is a huge rite of passage for a child. Also, using basic math is a plus for kids who want to earn money over the summer because they are practicing skills like measurement, money, and multiplication. In order to successfully run a stand, you have to use math to know the measurements that a recipe will call for, work out the exact cost of making lemonade, and to figure out what price to set in order to make a profit from the lemonade.
I think that in a way, many schools that use these educational games are also using gamification. Similar to rewards programs, schools are looking for ways to encourage students want to come back to and enjoy school. Computer games that are fun and that acutally teach something to students at the same time is a way that schools can better engage their students in the learning process. There are other educational games, such as Reader Rabbit, that are serious games but still effectively teach students about math and numbers.
The Cool Math website reports that over the years, they have had millions of players who positively reacted to their games. Many of their games have easy to grasp explanations on fairly difficult topics such as algebra and pre-calculus. For kids 12 and under, they offer an “amusement park” of games and lessons that are designed for serious purposes, but also to make math fun for kids. The Cool Math team accomplishes their goal by creating games that are educational, while also being easy enough to understand and navigate.
In class, we also discussed that gamification and serious games are technically two different things, but they both have similar goals as well. For example, in Chapter 12 of the State of Play, the author discusses the topic of nuclear war and apocalyptic video games. The apocalypse is always visually portrayed as terrifying, alluring, or nostalgic in games. I feel that this is similar to serious games today because these kinds of games teach the players a history lesson, but they may also be enjoyed.
To conclude, Lemonade Stand is a serious game that also employs gamification at the same time to draw in more players, which has helped make the game popular with kids. Game mechanics such as rules, points, and control over pricing, inventory, obstacles and challenges, and also purchasing supplies also help make up the core of the game. The goal of the company, Cool Math is to make learning math a better experience for kids and they have done this through the way they have designed their games.