TrueBiters

The logic course in the 1st Bachelor Computer Science at our university is since years a stumbling stone for the students. On average less than 30% succeed in the exam on the first try. Dealing with the formal and abstract language of logic is hard for most students. They easily lose interest and exhibit procrastination, and after a while they are completely lost. We tried to remedy this behavior in different ways but didn’t succeed. Since educational games are commended as an enjoyable and effective way for learning and given our own research interest in games for learning, we decided to develop an educational game for the course, the TrueBiters game.

We decided to first focus on practicing the truth tables of proposition logic, as a good knowledge of the truth tables is essential for understanding more complex topics introduced in the course. The TrueBiters game is a two-player game, inspired by a card game called “bOOleO” on Boolean logic. We adapted the game to proposition logic and digitised it. Since most of our students have a smartphone and playing games on smartphones is popular among youngsters, we decided to develop a game for which they could use their smartphone with typical gesture-based interactions.

The game has a common area (board) composed of tiles, which is rendered on a tablet. Furthermore, the game uses two smart phones, each operated by a player and containing a stack of cards representing logical operators that can be used by a player to perform an action on the board. The three physical components are connected and synched using Bluetooth technology; the tablet is the master and the two smartphones are the slaves.

The game is using five logical operators represented by symbols representing fictive animals (i.e. monsters) that can eat bits. As is common in logic, the bit 1 represents TRUE and the bit 0 represents FALSE. Each binary logical operator (AND, OR, IMPLY, and EQUIVALENT) comes in two versions: one that results in a 1-bit and one that results in a 0-bit. For instance, the OR operator takes two bits as input and can either result in 0 or in 1 (depending on the input values). 

Once the game commences each player receives a list of six bits. The values of these six bits are randomly generated. One player receives this list and the other player receives the inverted version of the list. Each player has to reduce his list of bits to a single bit being the right most bit of his list. The first player that achieves this is the winner. The reduction process is guided by filling a pyramid of tiles. Each player has his own pyramid. To do the reduction, the player should use the correct logical operator cards that he has available on his mobile phone. For instance, he can reduce a 0-bit and a 1-bit into a 0-bit by using the 0-version of the AND operator. Invalid application of the operators result in an error and the player's turn is over. The players play alternately. If a player doesn’t have a suitable operator at his disposal he has to skip his turn. The players select the tile they want to fill on the tablet by tapping on that tile, and swiping the desired card from their smartphone to that tile.

Figure 1 shows a picture of the game in use.

This game was developed in the context of a master thesis in the academic year 2015-2016 by one of our students, Eman El Sayed. The Master thesis describing the game, its development and evaluation can be found here.

Truebiters game - first version

Figure 1: TrueBiters game - first version

 
In 2017, a new version that can be played by one player on a single mobile device (to practice) and by two players with only one or two mobile devices has been developed. This development was supported by the Education Innovation Fund (OVP) of the VUB.
 
Figure 2 shows a screenshot of the screen when two players are sharing a single device. In this case the players can see each others monsters. When each player uses an own device, they cannot see each others monsters but they can see the complete board (see figure 3 for an illustration showing the screen of a player using his own device).
 

Two players sharing the same device

Figure 2: Two players sharing the same device

Screen when each player is using an own device

Figure 3: The screen of a player when both players are using their own device

 
Also a web-version is now available that allows a player to play alone (to practice) or to play against another player. The web-screen for the last case is illustrated in figure 4.
 

Web version TrueBiters - 2 players

Figure 4: Web-version for two plyers

Related articles are given below.

An instruction clip (in Dutch) is available here.

A manual (in Dutch)  can be downloaded here.

You can try it out: 

Related Publications

Status: Ongoing

Start Date: 01-10-2016

Funded By
VUB - teaching innovation project (OPV)

Related Research Topics