Common Sense Review
Updated July 2013

Quandary

Slick but dialogue heavy ethics game teaches students to make tough decisions
Common Sense Rating 4
  • Each quandary is set up with a comic narrative.
  • Colonists' statement are sorted into facts, opinions, and solutions.
  • Test out possible solutions on colonists to gauge support.
  • Ultimately the player makes a tough choice for the colony and sees what happens.
  • Quandary website has a useful collection of teaching resources.
Pros
Students make thought provoking decisions that have no right or wrong answers.
Cons
Point-and-click game mechanics aren't very engaging.
Bottom Line
A versatile game that can teach ethics, argumentation, and civics is light on interactivity but will come alive through discussion.
Seann Dikkers
Common Sense Reviewer
Researcher
Common Sense Rating 4
Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return? 2

The artwork and space colony setting offer personality, but do not adequately make up for the stale mechanics and small number of possible outcomes.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer? 4

Kids learn by stepping into a situation and trying out decisions. Limited choices still allow for a good introduction to decision making and the difference between fact and opinion.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students? 5

The connected website includes a useful teacher's section with an overview video providing teacher and student perspectives on the game. Supporting documentation provides clear lesson plans.

About our ratings and privacy evaluation.
How Can Teachers Use It?

As a branching narrative, students can replay the same scenario, but choose differently to achieve different outcomes. For teachers, this can be a conversation starter. You might want to have students play alone or in pairs, running through the game twice. After each session, facilitate group discussion. Why'd you choose the solution you did? Does the game accurately reflect real choices that leaders make? What elements might the game leave out? To what degree are people biased? When are opinions useful? Facts? Can a decision be good even if a majority of people disagree? This discussion can be extended through project-based work. For instance, students could analyze local government or political media to see how arguments are made and solutions are proposed, how they employ facts and opinions, and how they divide people.

Read More Read Less
What's It Like?

Quandary is an online ethics game that teaches students how to gather and evaluate information to make better decisions. As a space colony captain, students solve three difficult challenges by consulting colonists and choosing a solution that is likely to be most beneficial. Students first view a comic introducing the problem facing the colony. Once in the game, they listen to or read colonists' positions on the issue and categorize the positions as facts, opinions, or solutions based on what they know about the person and the issue. For instance, Bryn, the hunter, says that, "Yashors are very good at getting out of traps." Given that a hunter would know this, the student identifies this as a fact. Eventually the student must isolate two possible solutions, get feedback on them, make a decision, and view the result. 

Read More Read Less
Is It Good For Learning?

Rather than foregrounding instruction, Quandary cleverly gets students making decisions and confronting realistic challenges. So while players don’t get a highly interactive gaming experience, they do get guided but not pedantic help understanding ethics. Students will learn fairly quickly that a successful solution means getting buy-in from colonists -- all of whom do not agree and all of whom have valid positions -- while minimizing, but never eliminating, the negative effects of a decision. It’s best if students take time to think through choices, but they aren’t prevented from cruising through the game. Consequently, students will benefit from discussion which shouldn’t be too hard to spark since the game encourages ambiguity. To make facilitation easier, the Quandary website includes a walkthrough, list of standards, lesson plans, a worksheet, and videos of classroom implementation.

Read More Read Less

See how teachers are using Quandary

Lesson Plans