by Jacintha Kompella

While awaiting the arrival of her first child, Jacintha works as a study skills counselor at UCSD. She has a Ph.D. in Physics.

Instructional Objective Goobles is a game to help students identify and learn the relational structure of knowledge in a particular domain. Students have difficulty in connecting concepts and creating a sequence of concepts. This game will help students forge ideas about relationships and to build critical thinking skills.

Learners The game can use different contexts and can be played at different levels. For example, students can play the game in the classroom with the teacher acting as a dictionary of relations. The game in this assignment was designed for beginning physics students at the high school or college freshman level.

Context Of Use The game consists of cards marked with terms. The students have to put cards with related terms next to each other and build relational chains. The design can fit any subject matter at the elementary school level or at the college level. The challenge for the new game designer is to select a domain of knowledge that is reasonably free standing. To use the game in another context, the game designer would have to develop a set of valid relations and compile them in a dictionary for use as the reference. Determining the combination of valid relations will be the biggest obstacle for the game designer. This is most difficult because with enough argument, any concept can be related to another concept (perhaps using several other concepts in the chain of reasoning).

Rationale The game is a visual representation of concepts. Given a card, the player must forge ideas of relationships. The game encourages the player to continue building on a chain of cards that already exist rather than to create a new sequence.

Rules The rules for the game are as follows:

1. The deck consists of 50 cards. (The number of cards in a deck can be varied to suit the subject matter). There are two types of cards:

2. The dealer shuffles the cards and gives each player five cards. The dealer places the rest in the center, face down.

3. The first player places the first card face up.

4. Each subsequent player either chooses one of his or her five cards to build a sequence or starts a new sequence.

5. After a player plays a card, he or she takes a new card from the pile.

6. Players receive points as follows:

Card Design Back Design: Does not contain any information that reveals the front. (Any design that Hoyle would approve of.)

Front Design: Contains the term or category with some stick drawings to go with the term.


Deck Design The game can be designed as a do it yourself kit. It also can be a customized package for a particular subject and for a particular level of audience. The game consists of:

1. A deck of cards.

2. A laminated Rule Card.

3. A dictionary of Valid Relations.

4. A board to provide a background that sets off the cards appropriately. (Optional)

Design Process I developed the idea from a combination of games such as scrabble, dominoes, and word association.

Since the scope of the game and its applicability was large, the game had an immediate appeal. However, I had to narrow down the design to make it feasible.

The next challenge was defining what a relation is and setting up a valid set of relations for a particular domain. To encourage players to try and find relations within existing sequence, I gave more points for extending existing chains, than for starting new sequences.

SemNet gave me the idea of connecting sequences. A game designer can use SemNet to create the dictionary of valid relations. Since SemNet provides information about how embedded each concept is, a game designer can use it to vary the number of cards for each concept. But, that would increase the complexity of the game.

There are no jokers only wild cards or category cards. Players are not allowed to pass a turn, so players must start new sequences.

My last step was deciding on a name for the game. The options were: Salt and Pepper, Kissing Cousins, Relatively Speaking, or a word such as Goobles that makes no sense but has an appealing ring. Goobles was the final choice because it sounds more like a fun game.