Computer Go Fish

by Janice Thiel

Janice is a full-time graduate student at San Diego State University in hot, not trivial, pursuit of her Master's degree in Educational Technology.

Instructional Objective

The players of this game will be able to identify and name five computer components - C.P.U., monitor, keyboard, mouse, and printer. In addition, they will be able to recognize the function of each.


This game is designed for novice computer users. It is best suited for children between the ages of 7 and 10. It is intended as a method of reinforcing the understanding of the basic components necessary for a complete computer system. The game can be played at the beginning stages of computer instruction during concept introduction. The game can also be used as a follow-up lesson review or enrichment activity.


A card game is a fun, yet practical way for students to learn basic facts about the computer. By playing the game, students will become automatic in their recognition of the basic computer components and their functions. Therefore, it will be easier for students to follow and comprehend the more advanced concepts presented by the classroom teacher.


It is advisable for teachers to explain the rules to their students.

Two to four students may play at once. The object of the game is to collect as many sets of cards as possible. A set consists of three cards pertaining to one particular computer component - one picture card, one name card, and one description card.

  1. Shuffle the cards and then deal five cards to each player.
  2. Place the remaining stack of cards face down in the center area of play.
  3. Players may look only at their own cards.
  4. Play begins to the dealer's left and continues clockwise.
  5. When it is a player's turn he or she may request one card from any other player in the group. For example, "Do you have a monitor card?"
  6. When a player is asked for a specific card, s/he must hand a card over if s/he has one of the type being requested.
  7. If the player does not have the requested card, then s/he responds, "Go Fish!"
  8. The requesting player must then draw one card from the top of the middle stack of cards.
  9. After a player has received a card, from either another player or the middle stack, it then becomes the next player's turn.
  10. When a player has acquired three cards to make a set, the cards are placed face-up near the area of play.
  11. Play continues until one player runs out of cards, no one is able to make a play, or time is called.
  12. At the end of the game, the player with the most sets of cards wins.

Alternate Ways to Play

The appropriate age range of players can be widened by modifying the way in which the game is played. These cards can be used to play more than one game. Teachers can adapt the rules to suit the needs of their students. For example, by separating out just the picture and name cards the game can be modified for younger students. The game can play as usual with the goal to make pairs instead of sets of cards.

Also, The cards can be used to play a solitare concentration-style game by pulling out just ten cards - two for each component. In this case one set of cards could be used with four students simultaneously. For older students, the cards can be used to play rummy-style.

Card Design

The cards were designed to be easy to handle and read. The size of the cards is appropriate for the hands of young children. Each card has the information or picture presented on both edges. This eliminates the need to turn cards right-side-up. The cards are uncluttered with clearly displayed text and images.

Deck Design

It is possible for you to make your own set of cards to play "Computer Go Fish." The deck is composed of 61 cards. One card presents the directions and is not part of the play of the game. The remaining cards are outlined in the following table.

Computer Component
Central Processing Unit - C.P.U.

Sample Cards

Design Process

I began the design of this game with a great deal of thinking. I also discussed my idea with my professor and fellow students. I selected the context for the game by browsing the Cardboard Cognition matrix. I noticed that a computer game had not been developed for younger students. I also chose to pursue a Go Fish style game because of the oral component of play. I believe it is of great benefit for youngsters to say the words and practice the communication that is required.

Once I had decided upon the content, age level and basic game structure, I collected materials and scanned images for producing cards. I produced a prototype deck and asked several people to play the game and solicited feedback which helped me to make alterations to my original design. For example, I was thinking of including wild cards. I was also considering allowing a set of five cards - one of each component - to make an "instant winner" set. Considering the player's age level, neither of these seemed feasible and made the game more confusing.


Ellington, H., Addinall, E., & Percival, F. (1982). A handbook of game design. London: Kogan Page. (Chapters 2 & 3).

Online: GameDesign

Last updated by Janice Thiel on September 29, 1996 while taking EdTech 670.

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