Graduate Strike Force models the systems underlying college choice and financial decision-making. The game offers the player freedom to experiment with different potential college options and suggests that colleges can offer tradeoffs among academic reputation, cultural fit, and financial burden. Only by making good college choices and managing the team’s student debt and budget will the player succeed. The game teaches critical analytical skills at the time when it has the greatest impact on learning and retention, allowing high school students to practice, experiment, and prepare in advance for the important choice of which college to attend.
As the PI for the project, I worked with a team of game designers at the lab to develop and iterate the underlying game design so that player use would align with our desired learning goals. The team also includes our partners at the Pullias Center, as well as high school teachers and students, who participated in our “junior design camp” for the project.
Graduate Strike Force has been played with high school students across Los Angeles as part of our ongoing research. Our findings show that students’ efficacy around financial aid is improved after play.