4 Lesson Plans Using QUANDARY
Quandary is a browser-based role-playing game that challenges players to solve tough ethical dilemmas facing a fictional colony. Players assume the role of colony captain and utilize critical reading and listening skills to sort through facts, opinions, and solutions presented by the colonists. Players weigh the information they’ve gathered throughout the game and ultimately present a final resolution on behalf of the colony. Although there is no “correct” resolution, players become aware of the consequences that result from their decisions - for themselves, the other colonists, and for the planet.
Players receive points for gathering information from each of the colonists, distinguishing between fact and opinion statements, building pro and con arguments, and strategically playing fact cards to persuade colonists to come to a consensus. At the end of each episode, points are tallied and players see how well they fared as captain of the colony.
Just as with the many problems people face in life, the tough decisions presented in the game do not have clear-cut answers. The game’s framework encourages players to employ logical thinking and information processing by evaluating multiple perspectives, weighing the pros and cons of their decision, and arriving at their own conclusions. Small-group play encourages debate and reinforces the themes presented in the game.
The Quandary developers present additionalresources to enhance the game experience. These features include:
Ease of use:
- Registration is not mandatory; however, the game will track points from session to session for users who choose to register. Registration requires username, password, and birth date.
- Registered users may participate in the game forum.
- The game is well scaffolded, and instructions on game play are included.
- All text has accompanying audio.
- Quandary has three episodes; each episode takes between 10-30 minutes to play.
The developer provided the following summaries of the three episodes:
Lost Sheep: “A predator native to Braxos is attacking the sheep that the colony uses for food and clothes, but players learn that the predator also has medicinal value that could help the colonists ﬁght disease.”
Water War: “The community’s public water well appears to be polluted, and the only other well belongs to a colonist who is charging for access.”
Fashion Faction: “The colony’s tailor has started making special alterations to the standard uniform for his friends, which some colonists say is dividing the community.”
In the first sequence, “Get Your Facts Right,” players gather information about the issue facing the colony. The goal for gameplay in this sequence is to correctly identify up to four possible solutions to the issue and to distinguish between statements of fact and opinion. Click on each of the colonists’ cards to learn more about them and to discover their feelings about the issue. After listening to each of the colonists’ perspectives, think about how their roles in the society (as hunter, doctor, tailor, etc.) may influence decision-making. Players then identify and sort the colonists’ statements into facts, solutions, or opinions. Players receive points for correctly categorizing the statements, but mis-categorized statements yield no points and disappear from the screen.
The end goal for gameplay is to identify the best solution for the colony based on the players’ assessment of the colonists’ needs. In the next sequence, “Narrow It Down,” players consider the solutions they correctly identified in the previous chapter (four solutions maximum). Using the information they just gathered, players choose two possible solutions to investigate further and eliminate the remaining choices.
Players proceed to “Investigate Viewpoints,” where they present their two solutions to the colonists. In this sequence, the goals for gameplay are two-fold: to discover various viewpoints around an issue and to learn how to build a case that strengthens or refutes the colonists’ arguments. Players gain points for speaking with each colonist and obtaining a thorough understanding of their opinions. Additionally, players gain points for strategically playing the fact, opinion, or solution cards acquired in the previous sequence, thereby causing the colonists' opinions to strengthen or change. Each card has 50 possible points at the start of the round. A sound argument garners the full point value on the card, while an irrelevant argument will reduce the point value on the card by 20 points. Players try to amass the most points by determining which card will help elicit the most information from the colonists.
Once players collect opinions on the issue from the colonists, they weigh the potential outcomes of the two solutions and select one to present to the Council. Then, players are asked to identify the colonists’ arguments for and against the final solution. The Council makes a decision based on the players’ ability to differentiate between the opinions. If the players make a valid case for their chosen solution, the Council will make minor adjustments and compromises to address the colonists’ concerns. If the players fail to make a valid case for their chosen solution, then the Council recommends the solution as written.
Players bring the Council’s resolution back to the colonists and predict who will agree or disagree with the outcome in the “What Will They Think?” sequence by sorting the colonists’ opinion cards into the respective “agree” or “disagree” bins.
A final comic illustrates both the colonists’ reaction to the solution and the final outcome. While there is no “correct” or “incorrect” answer, the outcome will differ based on choices the players made throughout the game. The final score is calculated based on how well the player responded to the needs of the colonists.