The Button Game

by Carla Jones

Current job is as a Skills Training Specialist for San Diego Gas & Electric.

Instructional Objective Given a description of any design location the learner will be able to select all buttons from the New Business window that are required to correctly place the location in a workspace -- where it can be digitized.

Learners/Context The learners are experienced drafter-digitizers, QC drafter-digitizers and supervisors (participants) that will be attending training for a new computerized mapping system.

The game will be used after initial instruction on the functionality of the New Business window. It's intended to reinforce new knowledge, to cause the participants to think through a design location and select appropriate buttons, and to be a break from conventional training

Rationale The New Business window has over 30 buttons, and is used to map hundreds of electric facilities. Each facility requires the use of different buttons. This means the participant will use the New Business window many times during the process of mapping just one electric work-order. And, they may use different aspects of the window for each design location on the work-order.

A card game is appropriate for this content for several reasons:

* It's a way to visually associate the buttons with a variety of design locations.

* The competition will help keep participants focused.

* It will quickly demonstrate several applications of the New Business window.

* It can provide practice when a computer is not available.

* It provides a break from traditional training.

* It requires that participants think through new information and apply it.

Rules About the Game: The game can be played by four to six players. The object is to complete scenarios, which are workorder locations from typical electric construction jobs. A completed scenario consists of one scenario card and all applicable button cards. Button cards represent the buttons on the New Business window. The player that places the last button card on a scenario is credited with completing that scenario.

The button cards must be placed in order whenever there is a correct sequence for using the buttons in the 'real' world. For example, the place location button de-activates the window and displays the workspace. In the 'real' world you need to make all other button selections before selecting place location. The same is true in the 'game' world.

Duration of the game: The Button Game may be played for one hand, or for multiple hands depending on time constraints. The length of play should be established before the start of the game.

Play: Select a dealer and a score keeper. The dealer will shuffle the cards and deal the entire deck one at a time face down starting with the player to the dealers left. There are 80 cards in the deck; 18 scenario cards and 62 button cards.

The dealer will also distribute 20 tokens (candy may be used instead of tokens) to each player.

The score keeper will record the score at the end of each hand.

The player to the dealers left is the first to play. They open the game by placing a scenario card face up in the middle of the table. If they don't have a scenario card they must pay two tokens to the `kitty'.

The next, and subsequent, players (play moves to the left) have three options. They may:

* Play a button card on an open scenario, if there is one.

* Open a new scenario. There can be a maximum of four scenarios open at one time.

* Play no cards, but pay two tokens to the `kitty' and pass the play to the next player.

The player that places the last button card on a scenario closes it and wins the points listed on the face of the scenario card. They remove the string of cards and keep them on the table in front of them until the hand is over.

A player may also close a scenario by playing a `quit' button card. This keeps the opponent from scoring and opens a slot for a new scenario, however NO POINTS are awarded. Remove the string of cards.

The hand ends as soon as one player is out of cards.

Challenges: A player may challenge another player when they feel an incorrect button card was played. The challenge must occur before another card is played. If the challenger is correct (refer to HyperHelp, the Guide to Using GFMS, or the Button Card Point Table to settle disagreements) the offending player must take back the button card and pay the challenger two tokens. The offending player may NOT play a different card. If the challenger is incorrect they must pay two tokens to the scorned player.

Scoring points: Each player tallies the points from the scenarios they completed (Scenario cards left in your hand have NO POINT value.) and reports their score to the score keeper. Scenario cards have their point value listed on them.

The player who went out (used all of their cards) wins the tokens in the `kitty'. Tokens are worth 20 points and are counted only at the end of the game.

If time runs out and the game ends before a player goes out, no one wins the tokens in the `kitty'.

For a multiple hand game, deal moves to the left and the game continues until the prescribed time or number of hands has been played.

Winning: The player with the highest score at the close of play is declared the WINNER!

Card Design There are two types of cards in the Button Game; scenario cards and button cards. A sample of each is shown below.




Deck Design There are 80 standard size cards in the deck; 18 scenario cards and 62 button cards.

The deck contains all buttons needed to complete the 19 scenarios. There are also two quit buttons that close a scenario and keep an opponent from scoring.

Scenario cards represent a cross-section of overhead and underground design locations that a participant is likely to encounter in the real world.

The face of the card shows it point value and briefly describes a design location. The more difficult a scenario is to complete the higher its point value (the range is 50 - 200).

Button cards represent the options on the New Business window that a participant will need to select in order to correctly place and digitize the design location (scenario card).

The face of the card has a picture of the button, and briefly describes its function.

Design Process I wanted to produce a game I could use in a real training situation so I focused my content search to the courses I'm developing at work.

Once I settled on the content I began testing formats. I started with Rummy and Poker because I thought they'd be easy to model, and because each has a number of variations. Neither turned out to be a good fit with the content so the search continued. I needed a format that would hold the interest of adults and that would require more than simple matching skills. Eventually I found a card game called Sevens, and modified it to fit the content.

I created and tested a prototype, made revisions and tested it a second time. The changes I made based on the tests were:

* Establishing different point values for the scenarios based on their difficulty.

* Decreasing the number of scenarios that could be open at one time.

* Listing the button's functionality on the card face.

* Challenging an opponent.

* Keeping an opponent from scoring.

I resisted the last change because I didn't want the educational aspects of the game to be consumed by the strategy. But requests for a wild-card surfaced in both tests. Then it came to me -- the quit button. In the real world it closes the window without executing any action. The same is true in the game world.


Points   Design Location Scenario    First      Button     Button     Button     Last       
                                     Button                                      Button     
50       Add a pole with a with a    Structure                                   Place      
         piece of equipment that     s/ Spans                                    Location   
         has an ID (transformer,     -OR-                                                   
         switch, etc.)               Current                                                
50       Remove a pole               Structure                                   Place      
                                     s/ Spans                                    Location   
75       Add a pole where an open    Structure  Place                            Place      
         situation exists            s/ Spans   Open                             Location   
75       Add a n underground         Structure  Place                            Place      
         location where an open      s/ Spans   Open                             Location   
         situation is occuring       -OR-                                                   
75       Add an underground          Structure  Combine                          Place      
         secondary or secondary      s/ Spans                                    Location   
         service that needs to be    -OR-                                                   
         combined                    Current                                                
75       Add an underground span     Structure  Split                            Place      
         that needs to be split by   s/ Spans                                    Location   
         length                      -OR-                                                   
75       Add a location that has     Structure  Split                            Place      
         connectors that need to     s/ Spans                                    Location   
         be split                    -OR-                                                   
100      Add a location where more   Structure  Box                              Place      
         than one box needs to be    s/ Spans   Symbol                           Location   
         created on the FAC level    -OR-       Quantity                                    
         for a primary handhole or   Current                                                
         manhole                     Location                                               
100      Add a location where        Structure  Ductbank                         Place      
         conduit is being added      s/ Spans   Type                             Location   
100      Add a location where a      Structure  Place                            Place      
         passthru is being added     s/ Spans   Passthru                         Location   

Points   Design Location Scenario     First       Button      Button      Button      Last        
                                      Button                                          Button      
100      Add a single phase           Structures  Phase                               Place       
         transformer where the        / Spans                                         Location    
         feeding phase is specified   -OR-                                                        
         on the workorder             Current                                                     
100      Add a group switch           Structures  Order                               Place       
                                      / Spans     Swipos                              Location    
125      Add an overhead primary      Structures  Place       Quantity                Place       
         and secondaryspan at one     / Spans     Poleline                            Location    
         location                     -OR-                                                        
125      Add an overhead primary or   Structures  Place       Quantity                Place       
         secondary span               / Spans     Poleline                            Location    
150      Add a location where an      Structures  Place       Swap to                 Place       
         overhead secondary is        / Spans     Poleline    Service                 Location    
         being added that should      -OR-                                                        
         have been designed as an     Current                                                     
         overhead service             Location                                                    
150      Add overhead wires where     Structures  Neutral     Quantity                Place       
         one of the wires is being    / Spans                                         Location    
         installed as a neutral       -OR-                                                        
175      Add overhead wires           Structures  Place       Combine     Quantity    Place       
         (primary or                  / Spans     Poleline                            Location    
         secondary)where types need   -OR-                                                        
         to be combined               Current                                                     
200      Add a location where an      Structures  Place       Quantity    Swap to     Place       
         overhead primary is being    / Spans     Poleline                Secondary   Location    
         added that should have       -OR-                                                        
         been designed as a           Current                                                     
         secondary                    Location