Mike Skocko

Game On v4: Alpha Testers Wanted

In May of 2011, I asked students in each of my classes, "Who wants to help me figure out how to gamify our classroom?"

That fall we began our journey using Google Sheets coupled with my WordPress site. Even with a student's ingeniously conceived auto-populating leaderboard, the process was just too painful for words. In January of 2012, I asked the two kids in this video to work on a WordPress plugin.

In the fall of 2012, they delivered and we introduced Game On v1 to the world.

This year, Mick McMurray of Mount Miguel High School brought his problem-solving and coding prowess to the table and now we are on the brink of releasing the most exciting Game On experience since the original—just in time for the 2018/19 school year.

Alpha Testers Wanted

Note: The plugin won't be available until sometime during the summer. A WordPress MultiSite install will serve as our testing environment (nothing for you to install). For a little more background information, see the Game On v3 Discussion.

We hope to have the WPMS up and running in a week or two. (No pressure, Mick.)

5 / 5 • 3 Ratings

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Syrita Ramos Walker

Posted on 8/2/18 7:49:31 PM Permalink

​OMGOODNESS!!!!! I am excited, a bit apprehensive, but ready to get my GAME ON!!! You see, I found Game On through research for my master's program at the time, a bit more thany two years ago. That also paired with my interest in gamification! At that time Mike, I found your old site, and low and behold you said that you were working with something much more efficient (GO)!

Unfortunately, at that time, being novice to Wordpress (I still am...let's say Emerging Novice, if that counts), it was a bit much for me to plan lessons, teach, study as full-time student, be mom, and only image that I have every other super to conquer life with, I wasn't able to get GO up and going. Since, I have only dreamed of having a gamified platform in my Design class.

School begins Aug 13. I don't usually get my students on assigned Macs until the first two weeks have past. Just because we are a shared time CTE center and our first two weeks have a lot of CHANGE!! I am hoping to work through to get at least the basics posted so that when students are on their individually assigned computers in September we can go strong.

Sorry for the long post. Even though I wasn't able to get GO going, I have followed the developments through AEE. So this new release is really exciting. I appreciate all of the work, teacher input, student input, etc. that brought it to this point!

As I am beginning to set-up I have questions! I am working from a blank slate. Mike, I LOVE your format as posted in the GO is available vid...soooo, I'm kinda borrowing some of it :). Since each student won't sign-in the first few days, but I would like to post info on what was accomplished those days, I am assuming I can use daily pods with the date, but extend the time that they are open. For daily quest, I'd like to get input on how teachers handle time. Keep them open till the end of the semester?

I teach 1st, 2nd and 3rd year students during the same class periods. How can I designate different areas for each level? There will be some shared lessons among levels. I would also like input on digital portfolio sites. I've allowed my students to choose the last couple of years, Wix, Weebly, Google Sites, etc. It's worked, but I'm open. I'd like to try Behancē has a finalized version, but those of you use Behancē do you also have students post work in progress on a different page like Weebly etc.?

I'm sure I'll have other questions...but this should help get started. Thanks!

Matthew Miller

Posted on 8/2/18 10:47:28 PM Permalink

Syrita, I love your enthusiasm! This is how I felt (and still feel) about Game On when I discovered it, too. It feels like a really, really deep dive is possible but I've found it isn't required in order to use the best parts of game on; you can add on bits as you find the time, attention, and utility of them. I started with a near clone of Mike's ideas a few years ago, and gradually developed my own style as I worked more with it and developed my ideas and practice regarding what works best with my students.

For daily type quests, I usually have a date on which the post becomes available, but leave them open for the rest of the semester (actually, I close them a week before the end of the semester so students can focus on finals, but I'll open specific ones back up if requested nicely). However, I nerf (reduce) the benefits by 50% if students don't turn it in by the day after it's open (48 hrs) and nerf it to zero after 7 days. You can experiment with this over at gameful.me before you start building them on your live site, so you can know how you want them to be configured based on how you want them to behave.

My daily quests, as I think Mike describes in that video, are queued in a chain, so students have to complete them in order - the incentive here is to keep up with the flow. The downside is that if a students gets significantly behind, they feel overwhelmed in trying to catch up. I work with them on this and am a bit flexible for major illness, etc. I also try to point it out to anyone in danger of starting down that slippery slope so nobody falls into that trap unaware of what's coming.

You could do different areas by making different maps, or sub-map containers, for the various levels, with another container for all-level lessons/units.

I've tried lots of different options for portfolios so far. I like Behance for the professional look and recommend (but don't require) it for final copy. I allow students to use whichever they like (but require one, whether physical or digital, though I definitely prefer digital) as a daily work log.

Syrita Ramos Walker

Posted on 8/3/18 2:36:51 PM Permalink

Thanks so much Matthew! I've felt as if I can just get it up and going, then I won't be so overwhelmed. So I am attempting to make the jump now!

Thanks for the insight on quest. For the last few years I have posted assignments using Edmodo. I have given students flexibility in turning in assignments, yet I know what you mean with students who get behind. I have been fighting that every year. I don't want to stunt those who can move on, but those who don't move as fast begin to feel swamped. I also have those who notice that they are ahead and stop working. Only to say "I'll wait till everyone else catches up". Hmmm...Trying to prevent that!

Your feedback definitely helps!

Mike Skocko

Posted on 8/3/18 4:01:03 PM Permalink

I feel both your excitement and your trepidation, Syrita. I'm as ill-prepared for the start of school as I've ever been. Life has been throwing curve balls and time is short.

But, you know, it always seems to work out when we take it one day at a time. The trick is to just get started. After that, just keep going. Don't stop and the results will always amaze.

FULL DISCLOSURE: My favorite quote is Richard Bach's: You teach best what you most need to learn. Now I'll take my own advice. Thanks for helping! :)

Syrita Ramos Walker

Posted on 8/3/18 9:24:25 PM Permalink

​A day at a time is right! A very valid quote!

Thanks for the encouragement!

Syrita Ramos Walker

Posted on 8/3/18 3:58:09 PM Permalink

Another question. You mentioned different maps. What can I do to prevent various levels from seeing work/maps/content that isn't ​for them? Is there an easy way to do that?

Ryan Hayes

Posted on 7/24/18 12:31:54 AM Permalink

​Sounds good. With five preps I am having a heck of a time staying afloat. Just spent a month away from all things work related to regroup. I have to start back easing into things. Looks like I'll be having to redo a lot of curriculum, but hopefully not all from scratch.

Marquis McMurray

Posted on 7/24/18 8:43:31 PM Permalink


The upgrade tool moves quest content and store items to version 4. You can then create your maps and store layout then assign your existing content​ to these locations. Make sure to watch the video I made about some of the new features.


Mick McMurray

Posted on 6/1/18 7:36:07 PM Permalink

Only the quests, maps, menu, items, and widget are ready for testing. I'll move on to the store, clipboard, and stats panel next week. But the map, 10 stage quests, bonus quests, optional quests, pods, and new checks for understanding are all up! Test them out.

Note: None of the Loot assigns yet. Once I have the store built, I'll get the loot to award. I want to do it once and do it right once I have a clear picture of all the ways that loot can be added/lost.​

Mike Skocko

Posted on 6/1/18 6:56:25 PM Permalink

Kerrick Lucker

Posted on 6/1/18 6:46:33 PM Permalink

Store items can't award points (or cost negative points)?​

Mike Skocko

Posted on 6/1/18 6:49:47 PM Permalink

Not yet. They will, though.

Kerrick Lucker

Posted on 6/1/18 6:52:58 PM Permalink

Ok, wasn't sure if that was just a bug.

Mike Skocko

Posted on 6/1/18 7:20:37 PM Permalink

I can empathize.

About 100 times:

Me: Hey Mick, X doesn't work.

Mick: Yeah, I know. Haven't gotten to X yet.

The nature of playing with a work in progress.

Mike Skocko

Posted on 6/1/18 5:12:33 PM Permalink

I'm going to send out an announcement in a few, but I figured you should be the first to know...

https://gameful.me is ready for you to set up your own test site.

Work In Progress: Alpha = Some stuff works. Poke around and try to break what works. We haven't begun prettification. Function before form.

Warning: Lots of stuff doesn't work... yet.

Instructions: Click the link and follow the Instructions. (We want to see if they're sufficient.)

Hint: The black bar at the top of the page is your friend

Note: We'll have to shut down the open sign-in when the bots find us.

Mike Skocko

Posted on 5/29/18 7:56:24 PM Permalink

Re: The store comment below this one. (I'm going to ask the guy in charge of the Exchange to allow us to reply to our own comments because editing a reply doesn't go out as an email and can easily be overlooked by those who follow the conversation that way.)

Something left unsaid:

The (S1) on all the store items are there to differentiate between select first and second-semester items. If I clone the (S1) store items and replace them with (S2) versions, all the passes and scaled costs will reset. A player's loot will remain intact, but they'll have a fresh collection of items to interact with.

One made, these will be reusable, year after year.

I can already hear Mick saying, "Hey, we could even automate that process!"

Kerrick Lucker

Posted on 5/29/18 8:06:50 PM Permalink

Would this deal with the problem I was having? I think the issue I was having with unexplained point adjustments is that in 3.x it seems that if you make a change to the cost of an item it changes it retroactively (adjusting everybody's loot) instead of going forward?

Maybe I'm wrong or maybe that's how it's supposed to work and I just didn't implement it right...

Mike Skocko

Posted on 5/29/18 8:19:40 PM Permalink

Really? Don't remember that one. (But I seem to forget a lot nowadays.)

I raise prices during each year and don't recall ever encountering that problem. Regardless, v4 should have no issues with that.

Kerrick Lucker

Posted on 5/29/18 8:27:24 PM Permalink

​No worries. I never did figure it out and that was my best guess as to what was happening.

Mike Skocko

Posted on 5/29/18 8:33:05 PM Permalink

Had myself wondering if I was right about the non-issue (for me) then remembered raising the price of requesting a song from 100 to 300 Gold a month or so ago. If it was a retroactive issue, it would have hit dozens of kids and they would have let me know.

But that doesn't mean it didn't happen to you, Kerrick. v3 had lots of strange one-off issues. (A developer's nightmare.)

Mike Skocko

Posted on 5/29/18 8:36:11 PM Permalink

We did have an issue with the Bonus Loot. Adding a 6th type of Bonus Loot eliminated one of the others and took the loot with it. That's a problem we won't have to deal with anymore.​

Kerrick Lucker

Posted on 5/29/18 9:05:30 PM Permalink

Oh yeah, I remember that one. Thank you.

Mike Skocko

Posted on 5/29/18 6:46:51 PM Permalink

Have been playing with the store (which isn't fully functional yet) just to get a handle on the process.

Good News: The store auto-populates as you create items and assign them to category sections (children of store categories) which work exactly like quest maps and map sections. Reordering is a click and drag away. Very flexible, satisfying way to work.

Here's a peek at an unstyled category with six category sections. (I call my store The Exchange.)

Early Bird is a time-based item that's only available during the few minutes before the bell rings each day. Begin working before the bell and earn 1 HP (health point). I'm going to ask Mick to allow for .5 HP to better fit the gameplay.

Tardies are scaled for the first time to address the growing problem our school has with some students intentionally showing up to classes late. The first two tardies are free, then each successive group costs an additional HP. Easy to create with the Limit feature.

I give kids 5 "sick leave" days each semester. Additional excused absences cost 2 HP. All unused passes can be redeemed for Gold at the end of the semester.

The first truancy costs 5 HP. Additional truancies cost 10 HP. Cutting class should hurt.

Time is my 4th currency. Time, Gold, and Health are interchangeable (hence, The Exchange). 30 M = 30 G = 1 HP. Some kids work before school, at break, and/or at lunch to rack up minutes.

More to come, but dang, I'm loving this new system! Very consistent mechanics.

Matthew Miller

Posted on 6/11/18 1:32:43 PM Permalink

Still not able to load any sites at ​http://maclab.guhsd.net. Did someone change external access polices recently? I can't load maclab (it just times out every attempt; gray loading circle in Chrome) even using my US VPN, so it's not that I'm coming from Egypt. Other US sites are loading without any problems. Grossmont USHD starts to load (switches from gray 'connecting' to blue 'loading' circles in Chrome) but never finishes.

Justin Ohlinger

Posted on 5/29/18 5:34:45 PM Permalink

​Hey Mike, I'm in to be a beta tester, currently using Game On with my class and would love to see the new update.

Mike Skocko

Posted on 5/29/18 5:41:37 PM Permalink

See it, you will. Watch for an announcement when we're ready to go live.

Mary Leonad

Posted on 5/29/18 4:26:46 PM Permalink

This is perfect. I was working on creating scenarios to gamify my curriculum. I would love to participate.


Mike Skocko

Posted on 5/29/18 4:31:55 PM Permalink

Welcome aboard, Mary.​ Watch for an announcement when we're ready to go live.

Russell Sadberry

Posted on 5/29/18 2:11:13 PM Permalink

​Sign me up! I need to see what is out there before i commit system.

Mike Skocko

Posted on 5/29/18 2:36:22 PM Permalink

A wise decision, Russell. Watch for an announcement when we're ready to go live.

Erin Uptegrove

Posted on 5/29/18 12:19:54 PM Permalink

I'd love to test this out!​

Mike Skocko

Posted on 5/29/18 1:22:43 PM Permalink

You got it. Watch for the announcement when the WPMS site goes live.

(Well, it's live, now, but not quite ready for guests. :)

Mike Skocko

Posted on 5/26/18 4:10:04 PM Permalink

Read Map Mindset (below) first.

Creating Quest Maps and Map Sections

​This new menu item enables you to create, edit, reorder, rename, etc. your quest maps and map sections. It's very forgiving and easy to use. I did discover that unique names are a must, hence the (D) for daily and (W) for weekly for the monthly names.

The options should be fairly obvious. A map section can be a chain (default) or a pod. Clicking on an existing quest map or map section enables you to edit its settings. Click and drag to reorder. Easy peasy.

Quest Location

Quests must be ​assigned to a map section (unless you want it to be hidden—a secret quest or Easter egg). Map sections appear in the pull-down menu. Again, reassigning to a different map section or reordering is a snap.

Quest Restrictions

We have a wide array of options that would be tedious to list here. All of the old stuff and more. You're going to love some of the new features.

2 to 10 Stage Quests

All quests have an intro and outro stage that must be utilized, hence the new 2 stage quest option. You can add up to 8 intermediate stages. Mick capped it because, well, who needs an 11 stage quest?!


That should be enough to put your mind in motion. Start sketching out your ideas.

Mike Skocko

Posted on 5/26/18 2:51:22 PM Permalink

Map Mindset

Thinking in Game On used to begin with the quest​. Not any more. Now it starts with the quest map.

Think of a quest map as a container for quests. ​This map will contain my first semester daily quests. Each quest on the map is gray because each is locked until 6:30 am of each respective school day. I've done this for years, manually posting links ​on weekly pages, each quest date and time locked.

My old system required ​38 individual weekly pages per year. Game On v4 will enable me to publish all of my quests—daily, weekly, and all the rest—on a single page (​note the pull down menu listing some of the other maps my site will contain next year).

As the days and weeks pass, each daily quest will turn yellow on its respective date to indicate its availability (because I chose to make each map section—the individual months in the semester—a pod rather than a chain, the default setting). When a student completes a quest, it turns green. Students and teachers will now have a visual record of progress—on one page.

Quests would all be yellow—available to complete in any order—in a pod without locks.

Because you'll ask, yes, you can assign a chain to one map section and a pod to another. You can require a one map section—pod or chain—be completed to unlock the next map section. You can also assign optional quests to pods or chains. And finally, you will have the ability to create honest to goodness hidden quests.

I thought it might be helpful for you to begin to wrap your mind around all this to begin sketching out your plans.

NOTE: Quest maps are just one of Mick McMurray's brilliant contributions to Game On v4.

Matthew Miller

Posted on 5/27/18 3:08:27 PM Permalink

This sounds absolutely spiffing! From the description you've given, ​I'm not sure exactly how a pod is linked to a map section. It sounds like you've linked quests within a pod to the map, individually. They show colored status depending on whether they are locked/available/finished, with probably additional distinction (color difference) between quests, quests in a chain, and quests in a pod. As you've noted, this is outstanding because it will allow the single-page heat-map of student progress!

Would the following be possible, too? I'd like to make a skills tree in which areas on the map are linked to a pod and the color on the map reflects availability and completion of the pod as a unit. Clicking on that map item takes players to, or pops up a list of the quests within the pod, which also reflect the status of each quest individually. This will help keep my skills tree at a manageable level for the overview.

I'm not sure what an optional quest within a pod would entail, since the point of the pod is to give the user options for which quests they complete in order to complete the pod. Is it a quest that relates to the pod conceptually, so it grouped within it, but doesn't count toward completion of the pod?

Finally, is it possible to select certain quests as required for pod completion with full completion also requiring a selection from other quests within the pod?

Mike Skocko

Posted on 5/28/18 12:41:12 PM Permalink

Note: The v4 wish list is long. Priority One is getting the fully functional version in your hands as early in the summer as possible. (Mick and I want some other cool new features, too.) The plan is to stay focused for now then make wishes come true after we deliver a fully functional v4.


The pod setting is on ​the Quest Maps page.​ If the Pod toggle is flipped to Yes, all quests assigned to that map section are part of the pod. If it's left at No, the quests are part of a chain. With maps, there are no stand-alone quests any more. If you assigned a single quest to a map section, it would still be part of a pod (optional) or a chain (default). If you don't assign a location, the quest is either hidden or must be manually linked from within your site as in v3. No location = no map.

The additional color distinction isn't really necessary as the typical pod would be all yellow—when available—and the typical chain's first quest would be yellow—when it becomes available. My daily quest map was probably a bad example as it would appear to be a chain once the first day arrived. However, the auto-messaging within the pod/chain will make the distinction clear to the user.

Not sure I understand the question in the the second paragraph. In trying, I wondered if the map pull-down menu could be color-coded gray (nothing's available), yellow (something's available), or green (everything's done) to reflect other maps' status. Remember Priority One for the rest. I want a map of maps, too—if that's what you were asking—but I'm going to have to wait.

One example of an optional quest is the demonstrate deeper understanding variety. They do not affect pod or chain functionality. They are optional wild cards that pop up in the order you specify. And ​they look different (the shorter ones).

Hope that helps.

Mike Skocko

Posted on 5/28/18 12:47:04 PM Permalink

Oops. Forgot the last question.

At present, the only solution I can think of is to put the required quests in a pod on one map section and the others in the following map section with the Locked by Previous toggle on Yes. The required quests would be complete x of x and the others complete y of z.​

Does that make sense?

Matthew Miller

Posted on 5/28/18 2:40:56 PM Permalink

Yes, totally. And these answers really help; I have time later this week to start thinking through my quest maps / skill trees and knowing the possibilities related to ideas I've got spinning around right now will help me make the most realistic plans...and then test them when the alpha, beta and gold come out.

I fear my post looked like a wish list, which isn't what I intended; I apologize! I was just trying to sort out what was possible based on my limited understanding. And sharing ideas as they occurred to me while writing the post.

I wholeheartedly support you guys choosing a focus and moving everything else to the back burner until the main goal is accomplished. Everything you and Mick are doing is Super appreciated and I don't intend to push at all, although in my eagerness to discuss it, I will probably come across that way. :-/

I think from your description here the "map of maps" ideas is what I was envisioning. I'll be totally content to wait for that.

Mike Skocko

Posted on 5/28/18 3:48:55 PM Permalink

Hey, wishes are what makes Game On what it is. No apologies necessary. I'd never discourage you or anyone from suggesting ideas. Bring 'em on!

And thinking out loud/asking for clarification is welcomed. As all of you know, in trying to explain, we learn more deeply. And I just learned my wish list comment was ill-phrased. It wasn't intended as a rebuke, just full disclosure.

​Communicating with these little lines and curves is hard!

Matthew Miller

Posted on 5/28/18 4:37:30 PM Permalink


(I wonder how many times we've apologized back and for to each other, to make sure no feelings were bruised.​ Thinking back, I'm pretty sure it's way past double digits at this point. :-)

Mike Skocko

Posted on 5/28/18 1:15:15 PM Permalink

In reading my answer to the last question, it occurred to me that leaving the Locked by Previous OFF would give you the pod functionality you were asking for. True it would be in two map sections rather than one but it would allow for choice with the control you wanted.

Inelegant but functional. (If I ever got a tattoo, maybe that's what it should say. Story of my life.)​

Mick McMurray

Posted on 6/1/18 4:01:00 AM Permalink

Mike covered most of this already, but I think most of what you are describing is possible with what will be available for testing soon (tomorrow I think). One thing not covered was about optional tasks in a pod--you are correct, that toggle does nothing if a quest chain is set as a pod. All quests in pods are optional.​

Terrence Banks

Posted on 5/25/18 11:08:15 PM Permalink

​Most definitely would like to do this!

Mike Skocko

Posted on 5/25/18 11:50:46 PM Permalink

We're going to need a Bug Hunter Badge for all this talent.​

Shawn Harrel

Posted on 5/25/18 7:53:46 PM Permalink

I would be “A” okay with being an alpha tester....please don’t fire me for terrible puns

Mike Skocko

Posted on 5/25/18 7:55:43 PM Permalink

Terrible puns are a plus

Judy Durkin

Posted on 5/25/18 7:50:10 PM Permalink

Would we need to use WordPress?

Mike Skocko

Posted on 5/25/18 7:56:48 PM Permalink

No. We'll supply the site, Judy.​

Kerrick Lucker

Posted on 5/25/18 7:48:06 PM Permalink

I'm in!​

Mike Skocko

Posted on 5/25/18 7:57:10 PM Permalink


Judy Durkin

Posted on 5/25/18 7:48:03 PM Permalink

​I am interested in helping. How many hours do you think are involved? I am moving to a new location (Brookings, OR) and will have time to attack your project.

Mike Skocko

Posted on 5/25/18 7:58:11 PM Permalink

1,000 hours minimum. Per week. :P

Mike Skocko

Posted on 5/25/18 8:26:11 PM Permalink

Judy, will you be in San Francisco for the AEL Summit?

Matthew Miller

Posted on 5/25/18 8:36:56 PM Permalink

When is the summit? I'll be in that area the week of June 17th - might be a chance of a face-to-face meeting, after all these years?​

Mike Skocko

Posted on 5/25/18 8:41:25 PM Permalink

Late July.

Will you just be in the Bay Area or is Southern California in the cards? We're down San Diego way.​

Matthew Miller

Posted on 5/25/18 8:51:31 PM Permalink

Rats! I'll be in Napa and have to jump back home to Idaho at the end of the week. I've been trying to wrangle a reason to visit your neck of the woods during a summer visit for about 4 years now, ​but so far things just haven't lined up. Some day I want to see the left half of your face. :-)

Kristen Samuelson

Posted on 5/25/18 7:42:03 PM Permalink

​I'm so excited to see the new release!!!

I won't have any students over the summer, but would be happy to install it, do some work with it and test it out. Please let us know how we can do this.

Mike Skocko

Posted on 5/25/18 7:59:50 PM Permalink

We'll let you know as soon as the site is ready for testing, Kristen.

Matthew Miller

Posted on 5/25/18 7:40:28 PM Permalink

​Sign me up!

Mike Skocko

Posted on 5/25/18 8:00:29 PM Permalink

Consider yourself signed, sealed, and delivered.​