When I first started teaching game design my friend Jim Babb recommended that I make the course a game. After a disappointing first semester due to lack of student engagement, I decided to take his advice. The first few semesters, I ran a heavily customized version of Drupal to administer the course. It wasn’t pretty, but it worked. My students responded quite positively to a gameful classroom.

After a special workshop at the Games+Learning+Society Educator’s Symposium (GLSES), I found that other like-minded educators wanted an administrative tool to run their gameful classes. After a summer coding sprint, Queso was born. It’s a classroom management system built for educators who want to run a gameful course. A gameful classroom uses game design principles to create a more engaging experience for students. For example, in my classes I allow assignments to be revised infinitely because games practice the idea of failing often. The various options that exist (Blackboard, Moodle, Canvas, Edmodo, etc.) require a lot of workarounds to implement gameful principles. The more established software vendors also have so many obfuscated features that it becomes a chore just to figure out how to implement something.

Queso is designed to be simple and easy to use. I have also made it an open source project to encourage other people to contribute and learn from the code. As I continue to develop Queso, I find it helps me build upon my own thoughts about teaching and learning systems. It is an embodiment of my personal teaching philosophy.

It has received awards from Horizon Interactive, Communicator Awards, and EdTech Digest. I’ve also given presentations on Queso at Games Learning and Society as well as SITE 2014. It can be found online at queso.cc.