Way back in May 2005, Scot Aldred posted this piece which is still 100% relevent today. How slowly has education/learning theory advanced?!!
Up until recently, the concept of external motivators has worked well enough for schools and universities who use the lure of certification to ensure that most of their students apply themselves and attain the institutions’ requirements for a qualification.
Scot suggested PBL (problem-based learning) as a potential candidate for providing a more intrinsic motivation. I see role play simulation as an enhanced form of PBL in which we have added game goals in order to give players a more enjoyable learning experience.
Recently, I have been thinking what are the essense of a game when used in a learning situation. I am now starting to converge to two key elements:
1. the underlying context model (simulator if you like, which provides the "content")
2. game goals which provide the motivation for the players within the game context.
The key to designing a good education game is matching game goals with learning objectives. Game goals should be achieved, or better achieved, if the requirement knowledge as specifiied in the learnig objectives have been mastered.
If we can take apart a commercial game and modify either the game goal and/or the simulator, we should be able to create more engaging games.
I think, this is a big IF!