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Review by Caryn Lix, Common Sense Education | Updated March 2014

Way

Inventive game gets kids collaborating and communicating

Subjects & skills
Skills
  • Communication & Collaboration
  • Critical Thinking

Subjects
  • Arts
Grades This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
6-12
Common Sense says (See details)
Teachers say (1 Review)

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Pros: Gets kids building communication skills and thinking critically about how we relate to each other.

Cons: The ending poses privacy challenges, and the limited player base may leave kids waiting for a partner.

Bottom Line: A genius concept that's equally fun and thought provoking certain to build students' social skills and spark discussion about prejudice, communication, and empathy.

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.

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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.

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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.

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Overall Rating

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?

Puzzles are challenging and sometimes frustrating, but the fascinating concept will keep kids spellbound.

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

Kids depend on each other and their collaborative skills to succeed. There's no way to beat the game without the help of another.

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

Players drop in and must explore without much help. It can be tough, but the mechanics are pretty simple.


Common Sense Reviewer
Caryn Lix Classroom teacher

Teacher Reviews

(See all 1 reviews) (1 reviews)
Featured review by
Kelly A. , Classroom teacher
Classroom teacher
Ladue Middle School
St. Louis, MO
Unique collaborative puzzler for older students

The learning curve on this game is quite steep. Communication between players is completely nonverbal as they move through the environment, and the controls can be somewhat difficult. This could be very engaging for some learners, but frustrating for others. The standout feature on this game is the "debriefing" session at the end, which help students process the underlying social skills required to play. Overall, Way could be a very unique experience for your students - if you have the time to really invest in the game.

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