What makes a game?

Posted on April 8th, 2008 in Learning Resources by Kirsty

From Brandon Carson at Games for Learning


In short, games:

  • have realistic and relevant environments that allow users to explore boundaries and options.
  • have clearly defined rules: “If you release your finger from the keyboard, you will fall”, “If you step on a landmine it will blow up”, or “if you run out of cash you will go broke”.
  • have clear objectives – “obtain all four clues before your character leaves the room”, “double turnover in 3 years”.
  • are truly interactive; every thing that the player does, or does not do, affects the environment.
  • have clear outcomes; “You only retrieved three clues… you lost”, “You have run out of cash and are now broke”.
  • provide meaningful and relevant feedback that show the consequences of decisions and actions.
  • are adaptive; they automatically track the player’s progress and performance to maintain a careful balance between boredom (because it is too easy) and frustration (because it is too hard). Static content (eLearning) cannot be easily designed to achieve this and is, therefore, customised to a very specific audience.
  • requires more cognition from the player than regular eLearning courses where the learner simply reads text and regurgitates facts. Gamers analyse huge quantities of information to problem solve, think creatively, explore and investigate, and deduce through trial and error, tasks that often occur in the workplace.

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