Thursday, September 22, 2005

Interview with Oregon Trail designer Phillip Bouchard

There's an interesting interview with Phillip Bouchard, creator of Oregon Trail over on Deadly Hippos. It's sort of a humor site, so there are some offbeat questions, but Bouchard does manage to provide some insight into the design of the best-known of all edutainment titles. Worth a read to any would-be educational game designer.
Another complaint – although rare – was that the game was not sufficiently educational. I was once in the audience at an educational technology conference when another audience member stood up to say that you don’t learn anything from The Oregon Trail. Some members of the audience were offended by the comment. I was rather amused by it. In a very limited sense, he was right. In this game I don’t attempt to stuff a lot of factual memorization down the throats of the players. But I do encourage a lot of learning through experience. And I encourage additional learning by piquing the kids’ curiosity to seek information on their own about the history and geography covered in the product. In a well-organized school setting, the teacher will make effective use of the curiosity stirred up by the game.


At 11:42 AM, Blogger Barbara said...

The comment attests to the role of reflection in gaming. Reflection is crucial in any kind of learning through which the learner creates his or her own meaning through experience. Games can be very powerful to stir up curiosity. But... as the teacher demonstrated, sometimes learning facilitators have to be hit over the head with this concept... creating teaching guides for how games can facilitate other kinds of learning.


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