Creating Games-That-Teach

Fifty to 60% of the project inquiries we’ve received over the past year have included questions about Games-That-Teach. There exists both a curiosity about what’s possible and angst over their perceived complexity and application.

What are Games-That-Teach? Part of what creates angst is the broad definition of what a GTT is. Also known as Game-Based Learning, the simple definition, “a learning-based activity that challenges a participant to a contest or task with an outcome that is both measurable and comparable,” is broad enough to encompass many content delivery formats. These games are often used to help audiences better understand information, improve performance, manage situations, think critically, problem solve and make decisions.

GTTs generally fall into one of three categories – Edutainment, Training Simulators, and Serious Games. They may be as sophisticated as a virtual reality environment like World of Warcraft (over 11.5 million unique players worldwide) and the popular FarmVille (over 82.4 million unique players worldwide), or as basic as Tic-Tac-Toe or Scrabble. It is the element of challenge that differentiates games from other content delivery tools.

Do Games Work? Here’s where you can relax a bit. Despite being around since 1962, there’s little empirical evidence that digital games as a whole are better at teaching than other, more conventional content delivery formats. Again, the variety and complexity of game types combined with the huge differences in the goals and objectives they seek to achieve and a limited ability to collect meaningful performance metrics conspires to keep the value of game’s contributions to learning enveloped in a haze. We think we see a form but the edges are fuzzy. The reason we think games are effective in the learning environment is that they clearly […]