This is an online version of the classic board game. We’re studying how to graph points in algebra class, so we played battleship! To be honest, I picked the game because it’s online, it looks good, and it deals with plotting coordinates (in particular, this was a good game because the coordinates aren’t labeled, which lead to lots of confusion).
As I stood in class and watched my students play, I was amazed at how engaged they were. These are kids that tell me everyday about their favorite game on their PSP. Or how their arms are tired from playing Wii boxing all night. Or better yet, how they couldn’t do their homework last night because they were up until 4am playing Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. I played the game with three different classes and nearly every student was engaged. Not just looking up front and paying attention, but eager to help a fellow player or take their own turn at the board. It was incredible.
What makes the game really fun are the aspects of control and curiosity. Their really isn’t any chance or luck involved in the game. The player decides where to place his or her ships and so takes ownership over them. The player also gets to pick which space to shoot at. Some players opt for haphazard guessing, while others use a more methodical approach. The best moments came right after a player would pick a space to shoot at. Then they had to wait to see if it was a hit. In that split second, you could hear a pin drop. This was usually followed by a rather loud response from the class if the turn resulted in a hit.
These aspects of the game are probably true for the classic board game version too. However, the look and sound of the online version was also very motivating for my students. Instead of hearing another player call out “miss,” or “hit,” the game shows a splash of water or a large explosion (realistic sound effects included). Thirteen year-old students liked this. It offered them a fresh look at an old game which was enough to keep them interested until the game really got going.