Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Establishing a Higher Standard

It is hard to create learning games that have engaging game play. Gosh... it's hard enough just creating games with engaging game play... to add meaningful content makes it even harder.

When I did my dissertation research with kids playing games, it was very clear that kids know the difference between games for fun and games for learning. Certainly, there is unintended learning that can take place with "games for fun". However, one reason "games for learning" are so obvious to many kids is that, when having to choose between content and game play, developers prioritize content. I know I have in previous games I've developed... and not felt a bit guilty. I've felt justified in doing it because a game that is educational may not be as much fun as a game that is designed purely for entertainment... but learning content through game play is a bunch more fun that learning content through lecture, reading, and many other approaches. As an educator, my first priority is the learning... my second priority is the game play.

Like many other serious games developers, we aspire to a higher standard — one where game play doesn't have to be sacrificed for learning. We want to create the educational computer game that is so much fun, users don't mind learning the content. Of course, it depends on the content... some content lends itself more easily to game play than others.

Join me in this challenge: identify learning games that have equally engaging game play and compelling content. Help me prove that meaningful learning can take place inside engaging game play in all content areas.


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