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Way offers a wonderful message teachers can build upon: People have many things in common even if they don't speak the same language, or if they're not the same age, or if they're not the same anything. And that people communicate in a variety of ways. There are tons of opportunities for extension from this basic foundation. Students will be eager to discuss issues of prejudice, communication, and cultural commonality (as well as differences). Teachers might also challenge students to design a non-digital, real-world version of Way, where they must work together to solve puzzles non-verbally.Continue reading Show less
Editor's Note: Way is no longer available.
Way is a social skills building game like no other. While it's still in alpha -- or not yet final -- form, it's an experiment worth checking out. Players receive a random partner and then enter a split-screen, two-dimensional environment full of obstacles and platforms to climb and jump on. The catch? Players can't see their own platforms, only their partners'. That means to survive, players must communicate with each other by pointing, gesturing, or using emotional verbalizations. To make matters more difficult, there are no words, and no direct interaction. Players take turns guiding each other through the environment, and no one can complete the game without help.
Students can play with one another (to eliminate the wait time) or wait for a randomly assigned partner (which may be difficult given the limited size of the player base). If students get a random partner, at the end they're given the option to write short notes to one another and to select their home country on a map. Be advised that this creates some privacy concerns. But it's also likely to excite students and let them gain a bit of insight into the mystery person they've been playing with.
At its heart, Way is a pretty basic platforming game like Super Mario Bros. What sets it apart is the partner dynamic. Students must learn how to communicate without words, how to trust their unseen partner, and how to adapt their own communication to make sure they're understood. Way may not meet traditional core content outcomes, but it does an outstanding job of teaching communication, collaboration, and empathy -- core social and emotional skills that have vast benefits for students. It's also an incredible discussion starter that's sure to get students thinking.