Up your Grades to Upgrade your Gear
We wanted to give a visual of how the game might look, and interact. We will continue to update throughout the week to add more images from different types of screens the students will interact with.
Character images used with permission from owner.
Students will visit different in-game characters based on all of the classes they are enrolled in each year. In this example, the player is having their first interaction with the "WordSmith", a character that will follow them through all of their English and Language Arts classes throughout high school.
To promote individuality, players will be given visual options at the beginning of each year for character customization. There is no strength variations between items, the only changes are cosmetic.
Players will also be earning in-game currency throughout the year to buy the other items they didn't choose right away, allowing them to change up their look.
EVERY item in the game will start at half strength. 500 AP for a 1 credit course, 250 AP for a 1/2 credit course. Changing to a different visual sword late on won't reset the AP, it will carry on through all of the "swords" in the game.
A school year is made up of "seasons", better known as quarters. Although you will start at 500 AP, that will change immediately after the first assignment in the respective class is graded. This change will be reflected in game, and create actual visual feedback to the student of their status in the class.
We believe by using AP instead of actual grades, we will avoid the feel of "checking grades" and the game will instead serve as a subconscious reminder of their importance.
Each Season you can gain or lose up to 125 AP. If you get 100% on the first assignment, you will immediately jump up to 625. If you skip the first assignment, you will drop to 375. We feel like a sliding scale with 70% serving as the base stat of "no change" will work best, but we might need to talk to actual game designers and educators for balance.
We also want to stress that although a "maxed" stat is 1000 AP, not everyone is going to reach that, and it's okay.
The players will receive visual feedback in game that their sword is getting stronger or weaker, but we will also have the NPC pop up and weigh in now and then as a somewhat more blatant reminder that their AP is dropping.
Here you see the wordsmith suggesting the player reach out for help, and giving options which can be tuned to the individual class. Contacting the teacher for extra help, signing up for established tutoring, or seeking online help through partner sites we hope to sign.
The NPC will also pop up to encourage and challenge those who are doing well. We want to program in challenges based on lesson plans and possible grades, to tune them to each individuals situation. The player here is being challenged to hit 600 AP, but only because the game knows that's possible with the lesson plan the teacher input. We don't want to ever serve unattainable goals.
Challenge rewards could be in game currency, gift cards, movie tickets, or many other items.
Different classes will be represented by different items you'd normally see in an adventure game. While english classes are swords, Science is represented by Science Spells, the games version of magic. The player got this DNA spell from a Biology class. Importantly, all classes are balanced and represented out of the exact same AP pool, so no type of class is favored.
Here you see there is also a link that will take the player to their actual grades on the school's partner site.
History and Social Studies classes are represented by a "History Buddy" that will tag along on your adventures. They are historical figures that you get dependent on the type of History class you are taking.
This US History teacher has challenged the class to an extra credit boss fight after their big test that day. Upon turning in their completed test, the teacher will hand them a pincode they can use to enter the challenge. This leads to an attainable goal based on participation.
It's all about the potential. A student taking 6 full credits freshman year will start with 3000 AP out of a total possible 6000 AP. Their learning journey throughout the year will raise their AP and encourage them to earn every point possible by never skipping assignments and always aiming for the highest possible scores they can get. The enemies they face will be scaled from their potential 6000 AP. So a kid with 7 credits will face enemies scaled from their 7000 AP potential.
Battles are tap-style, where every time you tap the screen you hit the enemy. As you tap you will cycle through your attacks one after the next and your AP will show on screen. So day 1, everything will hit for 500, but a few weeks in you might see 620-537-608-599-487-581-620....
Players will be able to participate in a 3 minute battle before school each day against multiple enemies. This starts the day with a visual reminder on screen of where you stand and let you earn in game currency.
As quarters or "seasons" go by, the current strength of a character will vary, until the end of the school year. The enemies they battle will be available all summer, still based off of the initial potential AP from the beginning of the year. So locking in a high AP has the promise of earning some solid rewards all summer long. During the summer there may also be special contests and prizes to keep players interested.
The example student scored decent grades, locking in their sword at an 832 AP out of the potential 1000 AP. This is more along the lines of a score we'd like to see, 800-900, As and Bs. We'd like to balance the game and rewards with the realistic goals in mind. Meaning those who do get solid 100% As will just be rewarded even more for their efforts.
As we transition into 10th grade, the player will receive new cosmetic options not previously available to them, to keep the game fresh. Of course, if a senior wants to rock their 9th grade sword on graduation day, thats totally acceptable. The player will be able to switch out between anything theyve unlocked at any time.
For progressive courses, like English or Math, AP will build. The strength of a sophomore's sword will automatically increase in both base and potential AP, by whatever the player ended the freshman year with. So while a 9th grader may have a potential AP of 6000, a 10th grader might have a potential AP of 11001 or 12932. As 9th grade is over, the missed points are no longer gainable or potential. Their enemies will reflect that as well, and the stronger an enemy, the more currency it drops
Eligibility: Are you employed by T-Mobile or related to an employee of T-Mobile?
Website or social media url(s) (optional):
We're on Instagram as @upgradetracker but we don't have any content yet. We do hope to add to it soon.
For now we also made some GoogleDocs to help detail Upgrade:
Why Upgrade? https://bit.ly/2L5GpdJ
Our Timeline https://bit.ly/2kDMfrG
FAQ and AAQ https://bit.ly/2xsELku
May / 01 / 2018
Project Stage: Select the description below that best applies to your approach.
Idea (hoping to get started in the future)
1. Personal Journey: What’s the story behind why you decided to start this project? NOTE: All applications must include a 1 minute video that answers: “I am stepping up to make change because..."
We're stepping up to make a change because it's personal and because it matters and because this could have helped us, so it WILL help future generations.
2. The Problem: What problem are you helping to solve?
There is no type of visual active feedback available for students to feel motivated into keeping up their grades on a daily basis. There are many programs which schools use that will report grades, but these are just represented as numbers and data. For a student that may already be having issues with too much information/"data" being thrown at them, this doesn't help. Most motivation is external in the form of parents, teachers and coaches.
3. Your Solution: How are you planning to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.
We want to create a video game, where your character's individual attack power and level is determined by your past and current grades. The game will be accessible as both an online website and a downloadable mobile app.
Each student will be able to create a character. That character's weapons, armor and accessories will each represent a different class they are taking in school. Each item's individual strength will be determined by the student's current daily average grade in that class.
For example, English classes will be represented by a sword. At the beginning of 9th grade, you select your sword and it has 500 out of 1000 possible Attack Points (AP). Each quarter, the student can earn or lose up to 125 AP. A 70%-C will have no effect on the AP, anything above that will increase it. Getting under a C will have more negative effects, with a 50% dropping the full 125 AP.
At the end of the year, the student's AP will be a total out of that potential 1000 AP. Let's say they end at 896 AP, in 10th grade, their next english class upgrades their sword again. They will start with 1396 AP(896+500) out of a potential 1896 AP. Each day and each year they grow and upgrade.
4. Example: Please walk us through a specific example of what happens when a person or group gets involved with your project.
The game will feature a daily accessible tap-attack style game, fighting enemies for in game currency. Each course will be represented on the screen by it's own AP value while the student plays. Let's say that English AP for most of 3rd Quarter has been hovering around 719 AP. A big BLUE 719 pops up on the screen every time the character swings it's sword, acting as a passive reminder of where the student currently stands. One day, the student forgets to turn in a homework assignment, and the next day they notice that big blue number is a 708. They're going to notice, and they're going to wonder what happened. The student will be able to click on the sword to see it's current values, with links to real world assignment results.
We also want NPCs in game, like a Word Smith, that will make suggestions to players about studying resources, tutoring options, and contacting teachers.
5. The X Factor: What is different about your project compared to other programs or solutions already out there?
There are a lot of grade reporting systems out there. But they are boring, numbers on a page. Most kids only look at them when something is wrong with their grades, and usually a reminder from a teacher. UpGrade will be a fun game which passively shows a student their performance on a daily basis. It will create motivation for those who want to "max out their character" and create a topic of conversation between classmates discussing their progress. We would also like to work with companies to supplement the costs of the game with rewards players can earn like gift cards.
6. Impact: How has your project made a difference so far?
By having a system students can log into, we will automatically get feedback on app engagement. However, the real goal is to have the game get students more actively aware of their grades. We believe we will be able to create a level of excitement around the game that will cause more active engagement in the student body. We honestly believe the addition of this game will increase the average GPA in our school, and possibly even have an effect on graduation rates.
Through the use of notifications on the mobile app, players will get daily reminders that its time to play each morning. This will start the day off for each student with their performance in mind. Currently, most students only check their grades when something is wrong, and sometimes that's too late. With UpGrade, the players are aware of their grades every day.
7. What’s Next: What are your ideas for taking your project to the next level?
We need help designing the tech side of the app and how it would work. We don't want to replace current grading systems, but instead work with them. For example, our school uses infinite campus. So we'd like to work with them to link our app to theirs to pull grade data.
We'd like something we can test within 6 months, so that the incoming freshman for the 2019-2020 school year can be our first full class of testers. Once we prove the value of UpGrade in our school, we'd like to extend to our School District, including 4 more High Schools. Then statewide, and expanding into other states. Every school is slightly different, so we'd need to rework parts of the game for each school.
8. Future Support: What are the resources needed to make your vision a reality?
We know apps are expensive to create and host. We will need to fund that and will probably need to look into sponsors. The game will need a website, and we think a different server for each school that participates, we're not clear on that. We need more technical help to help us with this.
We will also need artists to help make the game visually appealing and make players enjoy it more with a visual attraction
We believe the State of Hawaii may see the value in our project once we win ChangeMakers, and support us in making it a reality. Once the game proves to be a valuable tool to our school, we see sponsors and the school districts helping to fund to the point that the game becomes self sufficient.
10. Ripple Effect: Please share some ideas of how you could partner with other changemakers or involve other young people as leaders in making a difference.
We know we will be able to engage other students in our school to assist in the creation process of the app. We might be able to enroll student artists and coders. But the real ripple will come after we create the app and prove it's value.
First, we will show other local students, and other teens throughout the world what you can do with an idea when you're passionate about it. We believe our success will inspire many others.
Secondly, we are planning to start testing and actually using the game in our own school. When it comes to expanding into other schools, we want to run workshops with the students of those schools. We want to take everything we've learned about this process and teach it to student and teacher ambassadors at those schools as we work with them to tweak the app to fit their needs as a school. We know this is going to be a crazy experience and we are going to learn a ton. We want to share that with others who are interested. We can have our app coders come in and teach a coding class, our artists come run a character creation workshop, and more. We can create ownership in UpGrade at every school that implements it, by engaging the students in it.
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Referral: If you discovered the Challenge thanks to an organization or person other than Ashoka or T-Mobile, who was it?
Trenton's tutor and our mentor heard it on the radio back in April and told us we should think of an idea to use for a project. We spent a few week brainstorming and building on our idea to create something we were proud of.