Posts Tagged ‘Games’


Why Games Won’t Cure the Common Cold, but They Will Solve a Lot of Other Problems

by Rich Mesch

Welcome to the next stop on the blog tour for Karl Kapp’s new book, The Gamification of Learning and Instruction! Hop off that blog bus and shake the dust off.

When reading Karl Kapp’s new book, I was pleased to see reference to Jesse Schell, a professor at Carnegie Mellon University’s Entertainment Technology Center. I remember seeing Jesse deliver the keynote at last year’s Learning 3.0 conference where he, too, discussed gaming and learning. One of the points that Jesse made was you don’t need to “gamify” learning—games have inherent properties that lead to knowledge, growth and behavior change.  So to gamify learning, what we really need to do is identify what makes games such effective tools, and incorporate that into our design.

His point was that games are good, but applying games to every kind of learning won’t automatically make them better. And to drive his point home, he asked: what if we focused on Chocofication—adding chocolate to everything? Chocolate is tasty, so wouldn’t it make everything better? And to illustrate, he offered many things you could dip in chocolate—some delightful, some unusual, and some downright disgusting.


You can see Jesse’s presentation from Learning 3.0 here: 


It won’t have much impact without Jesse’s narration (like most good presentations, it’s mostly pictures with very few words), but you can enjoy looking at all the things that Jesse wanted to dip in chocolate (including his stapler).

Schell briefly made many of the same points that Kapp makes in-depth. Gaming isn’t for every learning experience. Simply dipping learning in game sauce does not automatically make it better;  in fact, randomly applying vaguely game-ish attributes to learning (like points, badges, and levels) can trivialize the content.

So why all this talk of gamification? Like most aspects of learning, it comes down to motivation, engagement, and behavior change. There’s a reason we’ve been playing games for thousands of years. They engage us, they draw us in, they make us want to gain skills and improve our performance.



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by Dave Darrow


computer gamesFor the longest time, we’ve had to avoid using the “g-word” when describing things like business simulation and virtual worlds. As proved by Clark Aldrich and Karl Kapp, the tide is turning and the value in game-like experiences for learning is becoming more evident. This mindset is somewhat obvious for people like me who have played video and computer games since gradeschool so it’s nice to see it being validated. Because of this, I often try to look for common ground between game development and elearning design.

Recently, I read an article on The Escapist, a gaming blog, titled The Incredible Disappearing Teacher that described the challenges that game designers face in training end-users on how to play their games. The problem they faced was that the end-users don’t want to go through tutorials, yet would be unable to enjoy the game unless they obtained the information contained in the tutorial. With a catch-22 situation like this, they have devised clever ways to engage the end-user and keep them motivated to finish the tutorial. Sometimes the tutorials are woven into the storyline of the game, other times they are incentivized with in-game currency, additional in-game inventory, or rewards like badges of achievement. One particularly good example was Valve Software’s excellent Portal, which spends nearly half the game teaching you all the skills you need to complete the second half. It does not play like an extended tutorial, since the levels are carefully designed to help lead the player into discovering skills and solutions without spoon-feeding them the answers. This gives the player a sense of accomplishment each time, which does not seem much like “training”.

Do businesses face similar challenges? I think they do. Like game players, employees clearly benefit from the knowledge and skills they can learn in their employers courses yet are often reluctant to do so. If game designers have discovered ways to make training enjoyable, we should be examining them and finding new ways to do it for our own design challenges.

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