Mentira is in its third major iteration; version 1 was piloted in a summer 202 (fourth semester) Spanish class, and version 2 in a fall 202 class, and two 202 classes in the spring of 2010. These classes were taught on the main campus at UNM. Our intention is to have Mentira become a typical part of the UNM 202 Spanish curriculum. This will also serve as the basis for further experimentation with mobile game technologies for pedagogical purposes within the Spanish and Portuguese Department, within other disciplines at UNM, and beyond.
Implementations take place over three to four weeks, during which students are loaned an ipod touch. They use the ipod to play the game and for whatever other purposes they see fit. There are a couple reasons for the extended loan period. One is that one of the chief affordances of mobile technology in the wild is based around the intimacy people develop with their device and how they relate to it as a ubiquitous resource. Previous experimentation with similar games in Wisconsin did not allow extended use of the mobile device or the game software, and was believed to adversely impact the quality of implementation. Second, this is a back-door research question. We are interested in what students themselves desire of learn to do with the device, and what role it would otherwise serve in their lives.
During the third week, students take field trips to Los Griegos in groups of 3-5 to play the next part of the game. At this point they are investigating the murder and looking for clues to its solution. Rather than click on a location, in this part of the game they actually have to follow directions to find the location and use clues present in the environment to proceed to conversations with NPCs that have clues. The mystery is jigsawed across four separate player families, so that players must work together to understand the full story. The clues a player receives depend upon the family they belong to as well as their comportment in conversation with the NPCs. In the final week, players sort through clues, consult one another, and formulate arguments as to the identity of the killer.
This separation of game parts demands more study but its principal motivation was to produce a game of considerable length under the constraint that the on-location part of the game would only be feasible if its length was tightly controlled, about an hour or two.
Thus far, this series of activities we call the game has replaced one oral presentation requirement in the 202 curriculum. One of our major plans for further development is to more tightly integrate Mentira with the existing 202 curriculum.