Explore Like A Pirate: Chapter 5


Welcome back for week 5 of our Explore Like A Pirate book study. This week, we're discussing the different types of gamers you'll likely encounter in your classroom and what motivates them. (If you need a refresher, check out our previous posts here.) This is so far the "meatiest" chapter so pull up a chair and get comfy.

In this chapter, four player types are defined: Achievers, Socializers, Explorers, and Killers (Griefers). 

Along with the types of gamers, we need to know the four elements of game design. Jon Radoff breaks them down for us as: immersion, cooperation, achievement, and competition. In order to create the experience of gaming within the classroom, these four elements must be addressed. 

According to Radoff, games are experiences and "experiences are more about happiness than they are about things." What does that mean for us as teachers? I take it to mean that creating a memorable experience for our students that gets them excited to learn and try new things is much more beneficial than providing "things" for them to use. The "things" of games can be motivating, but it's the experiences that will drive them. 

In this chapter, Matera also discusses the SAPS Model, which is designed by Gabe Zichermann and outlines the motivating factors for different gamers. "SAPS stands for Status, Access, Power, and Stuff."

Matera puts forth a good argument for leaderboards and public display of students' achievement within the game. We could get into a long debate about whether to make this public or not, there are pros and cons to each side, but Matera's view is that it has fostered positive competition within his classroom that has lead to student gains. 

My thought is that, as long as what is posted is students' progress within the game and NOT students' academic grades, it could foster the positive competition that drives our students. Advancement through the game is very different than academic achievement and (I feel) it would give me more information about student buy-in and motivation than it would about their academic ability. 

Matera also states that the "stuff" of games should be directly related to the game itself. If you were to play Minecraft, you would expect to earn a tool (like a pick ax) for accomplishing certain tasks, not a pizza party. Likewise, an accomplishment in your classroom game should lead to a coordinating item, not a pizza party or some other non-game related tangible. 

Next week we will set sail from the shore and begin our journey in creating our game for our classrooms. We've covered the basics, and we're reading to begin crafting! Be sure to join us Tuesday for this next step in our adventure! Now, check out what others have to say about chapter 5 of Explore Like A Pirate. Thanks for stopping by and we'll see you next week!


  1. This chapter definitely was filled with things to think about! I am definitely excited to start thinking about creating the gaming ideas into my classroom! Thank you again for hosting this!

  2. I loved how Matera described the different types of gamers. I could picture several of my students from last year for each type. They're not all achievers, so it's important to incorporate the other parts too!

  3. I had a lot of fun thinking about the different types of gamers! It also made me think about things I implemented last year and why they worked or didn't work for certain students.

    The Designer Teacher


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