Graphing Factors and Polynomials: Video Game Design 101

Aligned to standards HSA-SSE.A.2: Use the structure to rewrite expressions, HSA-APR.B.2: Apply the remainder theorem, HSA-APR.B.3: Identify zeros of polynomials

If you’ve ever found a video game addicting, it wasn’t by accident: there was likely a great amount of planning and design behind your impulse to press the same buttons over and over. What does a video game look like from a designer’s perspective? How do video game designers ensure that their games are enjoyed by millions of people (and don’t end up discarded in a trash heap)?

This mini-project challenges students to integrate mathematical standards in factoring, simplifying, and graphing higher-order polynomials in order to design and play through graph paper video games.

The complete project plan is available here for download in Word or PDF format.

Here’s an overview of activities you’ll find in the project plan:

  • Students will play through and design side-scrolling video game levels on graph paper in which polynomial functions will be used to model the trajectory of the character.
  • Students will need to identify functions that will avoid certain areas and will pass through other areas on the graph paper. This process will involve simplifying rational functions, as well as identifying zeros and end behavior of polynomial equations in order to sketch their graphs.

The detailed project plan/packet on Goalbook includes:

Engaging Theme — Students will identify and sketch polynomial functions to help safely navigate a character through a graph paper video game level.

Student Creativity —Students have the opportunity to design and solve two of their own video game levels by sketching designs on graph paper.

Guided Resources —Daily planning documents are included to guide students through completion of the project.

Scoring Rubric—A detailed scoring rubric is provided for students and teachers to evaluate the created video game levels.

Extension Activities—Two different extension activities are provided for student enrichment.

Differentiation Strategies —Differentiated planning guides included for students who may need more guidance.

The complete project plan is available here for download in Word or PDF format.