Collin Yu


An immersive role playing game for algebra learning that uses learning-aligned game mechanics and embedded learning analytics to support player-learners in preparing for future learning in and practicing solving equations.

Why I Made Restoration

Straight out of college, I worked as an in-school algebra tutor for 9th graders in a public high school in Manhattan. There, I and my fellow tutors helped students with their algebra learning through both direct tutelage and with an online adaptive tutoring system. There, I noticed a trend with the tutoring system: it worked for the students that were already doing well, not for those that were struggling. The system had been designed to teach algebra as similarly as possible to how it was taught in school, and so it failed to reach the same kids that our education system had already failed. That realization is what led me to the Games for Learning program, and eventually to this project. I wanted to create a fun, playful environment for algebra learning. One that could engage kids like Reyna, who kept trying to play on her Nintendo Switch literally two feet away from me. One that could give students like Shiana, whose math confidence was so shot that she refused to answer multiplication problems, a place to freely explore the learning content and fail at it without stress or shame. That is what Restoration is about, and that is who Restoration is for.

What Makes Restoration Special

Mechanics & Scope

Restoration employs a set of game mechanics that are a bijective mapping to its learning mechanics. This means that not only is each element of a Restoration encounter directly associated with an element of an algebraic equation, the way that all of Restoration's elements interact with each other are also the same as how the algebraic ones would interact. Thus, the learning in Restoration is not tacked onto the gameplay, it is the gameplay.

These game/learning mechanics are taken further by being deeply immersed in a rich narrative that not only makes the game more engaging to players, but also boosts the learning as well. Strategies in algebra learning are interwoven into the narrative of the game. For example, the concept of isolating the variable is akin to the game's goal of isolating the Ego.

Analytics & Progression

Restoration employs an innovative take on learning analytics--player-facing analytics that are blended into the workings of the game itself. As the game collects data from gameplay, it uses Bayesian Knowledge Tracing to model the player's understanding of the content, and adapts future encounters to their current level. Furthermore, it presents that information back to the player in a couple of ways.

Players are given an end-of-encounter mission report. This report contains various statistics on gameplay as well as several playback features for the most recent encounter, including ones that show the algebraic interactions alongside the gameplay.

Restoration also utilizes sequence analysis to trace sequences of powers that players use. Then, it grants those sequences as new, evolved powers for the players use, creating an adaptive, player-specific power tree!

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