Oh the good ol’ days, when we entertained ourselves with board games – Life, Monopoly, Clue, etc. I remember playing Monopoly for several hours straight on rainy or snowy days. How were these games so entertaining?
Today, games are still powerful tools and are now being used to enhance learning. As a matter of fact, according to industry statistics, approximately two thirds of the US population is made up of gamers, with the average age being 30. The big difference today is that most games are played on computers, tablets, and smartphones. I would like to discuss why computer-based games are such powerful learning tools.
Games provide an extremely interactive way for people to learn new skills. Can you imagine anyone playing a game that was boring and with no involvement? I guess it would not be called a game, but rather a lecture. Ouch!! When a game is well-designed, it also provides an environment that simulates the real world, thus the term “simulation.” The closer a learning experience is to the real thing, the more effective it becomes.
We all know the important role feedback plays in learning. Well, games provide incredible feedback, constantly telling the learner how many points they have, items or coins they have earned, how far they have travelled, or what their score is. I think you get the idea.
Games are also very motivating because they provide opportunities to advance to higher levels. There exists an element of healthy competition to win, and move up to a new level. This explains why some people just can’t stop playing. Have you ever had someone in your class who was so motivated to learn that you could not get them to leave your class? Honestly? Learning should follow these same principles.
So, as you can see, solid game design provides the opportunity for a learner to build new skills and enhance current ones, in a fun and interactive fashion. Isn’t it interesting how this sounds just like the goal of an Instructional Designer?