Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Wii update - New Year, New Games!

WordJong is a game that is a mix of Scrabble and Mahjong. I played the game with all the classes. In 7th grade we played four teams of three. There were 4 team captains in each group. The captains held the Wii-motes and worked the game board. The team members helped their captains find and create the words. We played in Party mode and the screen is divided into four quadrants. It was nice because the teams hand would only become solid in their quadrant so they always knew they were in the right space on the board. You can choose to play 8, 12, or 20 rounds in the Party mode (we chose 12 rounds).

Each team is given tiles that are stacked on each other. Each tile has a letter on it. So you can see some of the tiles but they are underneath other tiles so they can not be used yet. The object is to make the longest word possible with the tiles you have access to. Each time you remove a tile and use it to spell a word, additional tiles become available. You can also hold down the A button and shake the Wii-mote back and forth to receive additional tiles. However, when you do this you cover up some tiles that were on the board and accessible before the shake! Each round brings up the quadrants and tiles and each team tries to make their best word. Once one team completes a word (you set your word by hitting the B button on the Wii-mote) a timer appears in the middle of the screen and begins counting down from 45 seconds. Each of the remaining teams has this amount of time to make the best word they can. I like this element because it moves the game along and adds a little bit of tension to the game play. Players pull the tiles into spaces in order to spell their words. Once a tile is placed, you can remove it as long as the B button was not pushed. Once all teams have set their final words OR time runs out, you are taken to a screen which shows each team, the word they spelled, the points they were awarded for their word, and their current place (1st to 4th) in the competition. This also adds a little fuel to the fire as each round they get updates as to the current score. Each round is played the same way until the last round (12th for us) when a final winner is announced. There are special wild tiles or power-ups earned for various reasons (not sure what the reasoning behind when and why). These wild tiles are located under the team’s name in their quadrant. Some of them are really cool and the students love to use them and target teams or turn some tiles into ice tiles the other teams cannot use. Sometimes the wild tiles help their team and sometimes they hinder others.

Overall, I think this game is great and it is easy to play with a large group of students at one time. The 7th graders played all together and I split the 6th and 8th graders into two sessions. Teams of 2 or 3 work best I found. This game held all students’ attention and moved quickly. I also found students working towards trying to put together longer more complicated words to increase their score (showing some learning!). I also think this game creates a nice competition for the group while also providing a bonding experience for teams. Plus, the music in the background is great and relaxing.

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