(there’s really nothing more nerve-wracking as 60 8th graders using your website for the first time. they have an amazing ability to find bugs.)
Although they certainly made me feel like XYFlyer has plenty of room for improvement, I was very happy to see that they easily engaged with the site, despite the fact that there are no scores/points, no badges, no explosions or shooting, and no timers to keep them focused.
This was one of my main theses with The Puzzle School. That you can you engage students, even middle schoolers, in learning without any extrinsic motivators by providing an interesting challenge and increasing the perception that you can solve the challenge using option sets and feedback loops.
All XYFlyer does it present a challenge that is perceived to be solvable and provides an option set and feedback loops to help students work through it. That’s all that’s needed to engage and stimulate.
Maybe you can create an engaging environment with less than that, but I think it’s close to the bare minimum.
I find it very interesting.