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App review by Caryn Lix, Common Sense Education | Updated March 2014
Way

Way

Inventive game gets kids collaborating and communicating

Learning rating
Editorial review by Common Sense Education
Community rating
Based on 1 review
Privacy rating
Not yet rated Expert evaluation by Common Sense
Grades
6–12 This grade range is based on learning appropriateness and doesn't take into account privacy. It's determined by Common Sense Education, not the product's publisher.
Subjects & Skills
Arts, Communication & Collaboration, Critical Thinking

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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.

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.

Overall Rating

Engagement Would it motivate students and hold their interest? Is it visually appealing? Would it inspire teachers to try something new or change their instruction?

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

Pedagogy Does the tool help teachers promote a more student-centered experience? Will students gain conceptual understanding or think critically? Does it deepen teachers’ pedagogical thinking?

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 Can students and teachers get assistance when they need it? Is it created with people of different abilities and backgrounds in mind? Is learning reinforced and extended beyond the digital experience?

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

Community Rating


Featured review by
Kelly A. , Classroom teacher
Classroom teacher
Ladue Middle School
St. Louis, United States
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 in ...
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