Plunder! The Literacy EduGame

The Objective of Plunder! is Fun-Learning

Mission -
Our mission is to design and develop an educational video game that will actively engage our students to enhance their literacy skills.
Values -
We value differentiated learning, therefore we will build an educational video game with the pedagogy that facilitates different learning styles.
Vision -
We envision our students becoming more effective personal and professional communicators as a result of our assessment-based EduGame.
Goal -
We strive to improve our students’ literacy skills through a fun and interactive experience that will generate broader employment opportunities for them.

The Plunder! EduGame Team consists of volunteer game designers, programmers, artists, animators, instructional designers, researchers and English Subject Matter Experts. Plunder! is a supplemental aid that can be used by educators as a grammar reinforcement tool for students in class, at home, during summer school and to "design or adapt relevant learning experiences that incorporate digital tools and resources to promote student learning and creativity" (NETS·T, 2008, para 3). The EduGame Team strives to assist students to be equipped for high school success, college readiness and workforce training programs according to the Common Core State Standards Initiative (2011).

Common Core State Standards Initiative (2011). Retrieved March 23, 2012 from

NETS·T (2008). International Society for Technology in Education Retrieved March 23, 2012

There’s a growing desire to design and develop STEM educational games, which is needed because it’s imperative for students to improve their proficiency in these subjects. However, how effective is STEM without the foundational ability to read, comprehend, write and communicate properly (literacy)? Plunder! has sailed against the flow to begin with the foundation of literacy and thereafter will be excited to partner with other organizations to build STEM EduGames.

Following are the five minigames for development:

  • Homophones-Current minigame-Halls of the Haunted Homophones
  • Commas & Capitalization
  • Subject-Verb Agreement
  • Sentence Structure: Fragments v. Run-ons
  • Capstone combination of all of the above

The History of Plunder!

The EduGame team is a group of volunteer students, faculty, staff, and interns from Full Sail University. Lester Frederick initiated a meeting with a small group of faculty and staff members that was held on July 8, 2010 in the Game Studies department. The discussion was about an on-going desire of faculty to assist our students to improve their literacy skills. There were representatives from the Game Design Online, English, Educational Media Design and Technology and Writing departments. From that initial meeting the group evolved into the EduGame team.

Chris Keeling, the Game Design Online Program Manager, started the Serious Games Club (SGC) and was also part of the EduGame team from its inception. The Serious Games Club is a student club that focuses on military, educational, health and political games and simulations.

Lester, Chris and other faculty members brainstormed about ways to create a game-based, writing/grammar program. Chris indicated that SGC wanted to work on a worthwhile project. At that point, the EduGame team and SGC decided to collaborate to build an educational video game, which is now known as Plunder!

The official launch of the project was September 2010.

This game has been a serious learning process for me as a student and as a professional. Because I started early in my program, I didn't know how to do a lot of things, but through the process I learned how to do almost everything in the art production side and how to trouble shoot through all my problems. This enabled me to be ahead in most of my classes. I learned how to work with a team and I now have experience in the game production pipeline. This has been the most beneficial experience I've gone through.Sarah Al-Meshri

The Plundering Pirates

The EduGame Team is a dispersed mix of rotating volunteer students, faculty, staff and interns from multiple on-campus and online departments.

It's nearly impossible to include the names of everyone that has helped in building Plunder! However, our organizational chart shares some of the students, faculty, staff, and interns that have assisted or are currently assisting in the design and development of Plunder!

Rob Catto

Executive Director - Leadership & Game Teams

The Program Director for Game Studies Education at Full Sail University, Rob is the Executive Director for Plunder! on the Game team. Rob has a B. S. from the University of West Florida and an M.S. from Capella University. For twenty years, Rob has served as an innovative leader in the field of education and has been a pioneer in the growth of Game Studies Education. Prior to Game Studies he was involved in VR education and was responsible for developing the first full immersive VR curriculum for a high school.

Lester Frederick

Project Director - Leadership & Game Teams

Lester is a Course Director and Online Instructor for Leadership in the Game Design Online (GDNBS) program at Full Sail University. Lester has an MBA with a Leadership concentration from Liberty University. He is currently pursuing an EdD with a concentration in Instructional Technology and Distance Education from Nova Southeastern University. Lester enjoys integrating emerging technologies, such as EduGames, into the curriculum. His research interests include the diffusion and adoption of innovations.

Chris Keeling

Executive Producer - Leadership & Game Teams

Chris is the Program Manager and Course Director for Design Project in the Game Design Online (GDNBS) program at Full Sail University. Chris holds an MFA in Videogame Production and Design from National University. Chris has worked in the industry since the late 90’s, mainly on commercial military themed games, including Panzer Elite, America’s Army, Order of War, and World of Tanks.

Catherine Carson

Writing Team Co-lead - Leadership & Educational Teams

Catherine Carson is the Course Director for Creative Writing for Film and Digital Cinematography at Full Sail University. She studied English and creative writing at the University of Central Florida and earned her Master of Fine Arts degree in Creative Writing in 2007. She has experience in editing marketing materials for UCF’s College of Health and Public Affairs as well as several years experience editing for the literary journals The Florida Review and The Cypress Dome. In addition, she was a consultant at UCF’s University Writing Center and a member of Sigma Tau Delta, the English Honor Society. She has spoken at and facilitated educational, creative-writing dialogue among colleagues at the Association of Writers and Writing Programs annual conference.

Chris Deason, Ed.D.

Research Lead - Leadership & Educational Teams

Chris Deason is an educational technologist and Course Director in the Education Media Design and Technology Master’s program at Full Sail University. He teaches Education Design and Evaluation, which explores the ADDIE-ISD process and various instructional design methods for planning Web-based teaching, curriculum development, and instructional design processes. His research interests include human creativity using technology and hip-hop & culturally relevant pedagogies.

Research Quotes

Game developers must balance an implicit notion of fun with the educational merit of a video game. In most commercial examples, disciplinary content is secondary to enjoyment and pleasure. In most educational examples, fun and engagement is a byproduct of the context. Developers face the daunting task of maximizing the technological elements of video games alongside the educational affordances. Further,they must accomplish this without losing the intangible element of fun…educators and developers must work together to produce immersive video game contexts that provide affordances that maximize learning and fun.Schrader, Lawless, & Deniz, 2010, p. 309
In reference to the collaboration between educators and developers: Both sides must create common cause, and form an in-depth understanding of the processes they each go through to accomplish their goals. Educators need to know the strengths and limitations of the game development process, just as game designers need to appreciate the challenges and techniques behind implementing and reinforcing pedagogical practice and coursework. Lawrence, 2010, p. 418
For gaming and the study of gaming to reach their full potential, industry and academia must cultivate a deeper understanding of the ideas that drive games, the experiences games can offer, and the implications of those ideas and experiences on the social and cultural significance of this young medium. This kind of progress will only come about when academia and industry work together.Gold, 2008, p. 1
Programmers, artists, and designers speak very different languages and use very different tools to create a single game, which ideally has a consistent and unified vision. Spaulding, 2009, p. 36
'Finding the fun in...learning’ and devising ways to focus on and enhance that fun as a core game dynamic is a good strategy to approaching educational game development. Klopfer, Osterweil, Salen, Haas, & Roy, 2009, pp. 29-30 The authors suggest learning games design principles: Put learning and game play first a. Good educational games will consider both the learning goals/content and the game play at the same time, with enough flexibility to iterate between the two to change one or both simultaneously Klopfer, Osterweil, Salen, Haas, & Roy, 2009, p. 34
The presence of elements such as a slow pace, reflection, study of the environment, and problem-solving make point and click adventure games relevant from a pedagogical perspective.Moreno, Burgos, Martinez-Ortiz, Sierra, & Fernandez-Manjon, 2008, p.2535
Modern video games immerse minds in virtual worlds in which the players must explore and discover the attributes of complex relationships and develop sophisticated skills and strategies in order to advance within the game. The virtual environments of video games appeal to student’s innate desire to learn and self-educate by sparking their natural curiosity while they are engaged in something they already enjoy. In other words, video games create a unique opportunity for tangential learning. Tangential learning is about being exposed to things within a context in which you’re already engaged. Niles, 2010
The following is from the case study results: The teachers suggested that the combination of learning with fun and the alignment with learners’ learning preferences were two main reasons of using the mathematics game. Kebritchi, 2010, p. 260
A very important part of any learning process is the assessment of the progress of the learning experience. Games are a very rich interactive medium, and this interactive behaviour can be exploited for assessment purposes. Moreno, Burgos, Martinez-Ortiz, Sierra, & Fernandez-Manjon, 2008, p. 2534

More research quotes