Sunday, December 07, 2008

Lessons on Serious Games from DeveLearn 08

I had the pleasure of attending the Elearning Guild's DevLearn 08 conference in San Jose, CA last month. Serious games were a serious topic at the conference. While my interests were broad, I did attend a few of the many available sessions on learning through simulations and games. Here are a few of the learning points that resonated with me.
  • Developing learning games can be very time consuming and very expensive. It requires a combination of programing, graphic skills and software development that many small training departments like mine do not posses. The budget for contracting for this work can range widely from 20K to 200k depending on the features.
  • Using games is not about making learning fun. It is about using technology as a tool for creating a situated learning experience. Games provide the opportunity for practice and application in an environment where mistakes will create no adverse outcome.
  • The state of technology is changing. It is now easier than ever to create high cost, ineffective and boring learning games. Instructional design and the ability to create an experience that results in learning is more important than the flashy graphics, sound track and hype surrounding a game. You need to screen your game development vendors carefully, review samples of their projects and be confident in their ability to deliver a product that will result in learning and improved performance. Be sure to conduct multiple rounds of testing and feedback with low fidelity prototypes before investing time in producing the game objects.
  • Interactivity means much more than moving a mouse and clicking on screen objects. For learning to occur from game play, interactivity must engage the learner's attention, and stimulate thinking, recall and practice with feedback. For learning to occur, mental interaction is more important than physical interaction with the game.

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