Gameshow Pro.

Author:Creasey, April
Position:Product/service evaluation

Gameshow Pro, CD-ROM, 2006, LearningWare, $895-$1685.

Over the past 10 years, my attempts at creating games to support classroom-based learning have been very time consuming and the results hardly award winning. I have been waiting for a game software development tool that could build game show-quality learning events that support learning objectives and make memorization fun.

Gameshow Pro by LearningWare is a template-based game authoring tool that has most of the features I've been looking for. The end product can be controlled by the trainer in a classroom or can be played by individuals at a computer. Gameshow Pro Web allows games created with the tool to be played online.

When you first start the software, you are asked to select from one of six Gameshow shells or templates:

* Categories

* Classroom Feud

* Tic-Tac-Toe

* Final Answer

* Wheel of Knowledge

* Question Bowl

I used Gameshow Pro to build a game to test knowledge of the features and functions of a medical charting application. I chose Wheel of Knowledge, which is very similar to the popular TV show Wheel of Fortune.

After deciding on a game template, you use five "tabs" to build it: "Game Options," "Rules," "Match Setup," "Team Setup," and "Event Setup." The length of the game will probably depend most on the learning goals. Is this game meant to teach facts or to enable a deeper understanding of complex topics?

In my case, the purpose of the game was to teach parts and pieces of a Windows-based application. The class size was about 15 people broken into five teams of three people. I choose five feature topics, five function topics, and five workflow topics. So I had 15 puzzles, which I estimated would take about 3 minutes each to solve for a total of 45 minutes. I added another 15 minutes to allow for the game introduction and a final summary.

The game default is to play sounds for right or wrong answers. I chose the "normal" sound set--a bell-and-buzzer combination. Sounds can be useful or annoying; selecting the right sounds for the target audience is worth some thought.

It's worth noting that the Administration Options tab provides setting for the use of a wireless ring-in system. Teams use this type of device to signal that they have an answer to a question or puzzle.

The Rules tab allows you to customize scoring, determine the length of time the students have to answer a question, guess a letter, and solve the puzzle. The Match Setup tab determines, among things, the...

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