Title: Don’t Let Your Dreams be Beans
Learning Topic: Goal setting, career choice
Learning Objectives: (Only the first learning objective is explored in this prototype.)
- Identify promising fields based on a combination of interests and skills.
- Analyze complex objectives and organize them into smaller component tasks.
- Create clear, actionable goals using the SMART framework.
Intended Audience: Career or guidance counselors and high school or college students interested in developing task management skills. In terms of Bartle’s player types, the primary audience is on the Socializer to Explorer spectrum—interacting with, rather than acting on.
Prototype URL: https://joshuawhittom.com/dontletyourdreamsbebeans.html
You are a career counselor meeting a new client at a coffee shop. This client is a 23-year-old college graduate named Robin, who has spent the six months since graduation fruitlessly searching for a job to use their English degree. While they have sustained themself through contracts and retail jobs, the holidays are coming up and their parents want to see evidence of career prospects. Even so, they’re too overwhelmed with stress and self-doubt to know what they want, much less what would satisfy their parents. With their time and options limited, they turn to you through a recommendation from a friend.
In three biweekly sessions, explore Robin’s interests and experiences to identify promising career paths. Help them analyze possible options based on the path of choice, then turn those options into actionable steps. Finally, apply the SMART framework—specific, measurable, actionable, relevant, and timely—to create a goal for the most immediate step. Through epilogues set a month after the third session, learn what advice worked, what didn’t, and how to improve.
Counseling is an inherently human field, and not every counselor/client relationship works out. Should you push Robin in the wrong direction, fail to provide strong guidance, or simply echo the sentiments of their critical relatives, they will take their search elsewhere. Be mindful of their needs and don’t press harder than you need to, but just enough to get them moving down a road they can be proud of.
|Exposition||The protagonist, an unnamed career counselor, has arranged to meet a new client in a local coffee shop.|
|Conflict||Robin, the client, has spent the six months since graduation stuck in a dead-end job hunt. With the holidays—and familial judgment—looming large on the horizon, they turn to the protagonist for help.|
|Rising Action||After meeting Robin, the protagonist walks through their skills and interests to help identify a career path worth investigating.
In the second session, they break down this career path into possible routes and choose one to pursue further. The gap between sessions two and three coincides with Thanksgiving, leaning into the rising pressure from Robin’s family.
|Climax||At the onset of the third session, Robin expresses in no uncertain terms that their family will not support them continuing to live in the city without a clear path forward. The stakes are high as the protagonist helps them create an actionable goal.|
|Falling Action||Robin leaves the final session with a plan in mind for the next month. Due to winter holiday plans, a month passes before they can meet with the protagonist once more.|
|Resolution/Conclusion||With the protagonist’s help, they manage to secure the first step to their path forward. Though their family is still dissatisfied, they are appeased by the effort Robin is putting in.|
The Story According to Kapp
In chapter seven of The Gamification of Learning and Instruction (2012), Kapp describes aspects of gamification to support problem solving. The foremost of these present in Don’t Let Your Dreams be Beans are roleplay and meaningful dialogue, supported by immediate immersion and replayability.
Don’t Let Your Dreams be Beans is a conversation between counselor and client. Every choice the player makes is between two or more responses to the client’s statements. By nature of the interactive fiction medium, player choices and client responses are limited, but these limitations balance a natural conversation with a focus on learning. The player’s assumed role of career counselor provides context to their decisions; they are not merely acting in a vacuum or on their own interests, but in support of a third party. In keeping with conventions, the game uses second-person narration. The story begins in medias res—the meeting is set, the client is on their way, and the player directly immersed into the coffee shop setting. This, too, trims the fat in favor of curricular outcomes. Every conclusion, positive or negative, comes with the option to quickly start from the beginning with new understanding.
Click to open the full-size image in a new tab.
ArtsyBee. (2017). [Vintage paper with coffee stain] [Illustration]. Pixabay. https://pixabay.com/illustrations/old-paper-vintage-coffee-stain-2228749/
Kapp, K. M. (2012). The gamification of learning and instruction: Game-based methods and strategies for training and education. Pfeiffer.
Pfüderi. (2017). [Steaming coffee cup with coffee beans] [Photograph]. Pixabay. https://pixabay.com/photos/coffee-coffee-cup-hot-coffee-steam-2358388/