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A Tin Can adventure

In my recent guide How to design Tin Can tracking for real world learning, I promised series of blog posts outlining examples of Tin Can in action. The idea is that you can apply the three principles outlined in the how to guide to these examples as a way of practicing designing for Tin Can. This first example isn’t exactly real world learning, but it’s a nice example and the same principles apply.

First a bit of background: we’re always coming up with creative, sometimes wacky, ideas at Epic and bouncing them around the team. Sometimes these ideas don’t go anywhere but other times even the craziest sounding ideas develop and end up being exactly what a particular client needs months or years down the line. This morning there were emails flying around about text-based adventure games and adventure books (the ones where you turn to page 56 to see if drinking the magic potion turns you into a toad). I had some nostalgic moments remembering how addictive those games were in my childhood.

Tin can for game design

From that, one of our graphic designers suggested the idea of a Twitter bot-powered adventure game that players tweet at to find out what happens next. This type of game would be self-publicising as people see others tweeting the game. It would also be social as many players share the same game world.


Games like this are great for learning and assessing decision-making skills. They can be set in a scenario that features real job tasks and decisions. Although Twitter is great for public games, if you want the game to be private then Tin Can can help. A simple client app or website can be used by players to send their in-game actions to a server, which then sends its own Tin Can statements back reporting the results. The game can be social or even competitive, with the actions of players affecting the game world and other players. Different players can take on different roles as in real life and work together in those roles to obtain the best outcome. This can all be tracked and evaluated by managers, mentors and the players themselves.

Now comes the practical application. Think of a work task or process in your context that involves collaborative decision-making. How might a social text-based adventure game work for that task? Have a go at applying Tin Can design principles to that game using the three items in my How to design Tin Can tracking for real world learning. Clarify the requirements, identity the in-game events and craft some statements. I’m really interested to know what you come up with, so please let me know how you get on and share with everyone in the comments below.

Watch out for my next Tin Can blog which will look at how (and why) an employer might track their employees’ failure at a task. In the meantime, check out our other resources on Tin Can API.

This post was written by Andrew Downes and first appeared on the Epic blog on 29th May 2013.