What are serious games for learning?
Serious games for learning are fully-fledged games that are used for e-learning purposes. To be effective, these games need much more than just adding some badges, points or leader boards. They need to be based on sound instructional design and help learners achieve their learning objectives.
Why use serious games for learning?
Serious games for learning have a number of benefits. They can:
- Be immersive, motivating and fun.
- Increase employee engagement.
- Support skills acquisition.
- Improve problem-solving skills.
- Reinforce learning.
- Provide a safe environment for exploration.
- Enhance productivity.
How to create effective e-learning games for learning:
Creating an effective e-learning game can appear a daunting task. There is a lot to consider – from the graphical environment to the story, the challenges and the rules. Here are some tips that will help you create e-learning games that are fun, engaging and effective:
- Be clear about the why – Before you start doing anything at all, be sure you know exactly why you want to create the game and what you want to achieve. For example, do you aim at changing behavior, developing skills or raising awareness?
- Apply good instructional design – carefully analyse your learners’ strengths, weaknesses and learning needs and base the game on sound instructional design. Always keep the intended learning objectives in mind.
- Start with an outline – first, develop an outline of your game:
- What are the goals of the game?
- Which elements do you want to include?
- What is the structure?
- What is the desired outcome?
Using a game design template and sharing it with your team can help everybody involved to better envision the game that you are trying to design.
- Make the goals and rules clear – provide context and ensure that the goal of the game and its rules are clear to the learner. Best keep it simple. Overcomplicated rules can be highly frustrating.
- Choose a suitable theme and stick with it – choose a theme that is suitable for your audience and subject matter and be consistent. All elements of your game need to be in line with your chosen theme.
- Align all elements with the learning objectives – tie in the elements of the game with the learning objectives.
- Create engaging scenarios and tell a story – realistic scenarios and a great story can lead to strong intrinsic motivation. The scenarios should feel real to the learner and the story should be believable.
- Use challenges to excite the learner – challenges should be neither too easy, nor too difficult. They should stretch the learner but they need to have a realistic chance of mastering the challenges.
- Choices and consequences – give learners choices to make them feel in control. All decisions that learners make need to lead to realistic consequences.
There is a lot more to consider but these are some points that can help you to get started. Why not play a few learning games yourself to make it easier to put yourself in your learners’ shoes?