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Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Gadgets, Games and Gizmos: Casual Educational Games

There seems to be an attitude in training and academic circles that you need to “go big or go home” when it comes to educational game development. Well, you don’t need to go home…or go big. An educational game doesn't have to be an expensive first-person master piece to be educational and entertaining.

Beneficial, educational games can and are being developed inexpensively. Intertwining learning and electronic games does not require a cinema-like production value. Many advertisers have learned the lesson of short, quick, fun games.

Educators, trainers and corporate managers need to learn the same lesson. Coca-Cola, the company that makes the soft drink Coke and many other beverages, has created a number of small games that only take a few minutes to play. Give them a try.

The games are fun, draw you in and only take a few minutes to play and the cost to develop is a lot less than an elaborate console-based video game.

In the gaming world, simplistic, easy-to-play, short games are called “Casual Games” or “Coffee-Break” games. As instructional designers, learning experts and academics, we need to start to develop simple educational games to provide a quick "Learning Opportunity" for those we are trying to train or teach.

One is example of an educational casual game is a "Wack a Mole" game use to teach basic chemistry. Give it a try. The game is fun, quick to play and, if you are not careful, you might learning something.

Check out more games at the "Fun and Games" page of my web site.

Content Guide


Anonymous said...

I love to include simple games in my elaearning programs in place of boring multiple choice questions. I have found, however, that there are still a lot of people in the corporate world (including IDs who should know better) who cannot accept a game as a learning activity. Many people cannot see past the game interface and recognize the learning that takes place. In one particularly stinging comment, my use of a game to reinforce some otherwise dry content was called 'cutesy".

Are other IDs out there experiencing resistance to games in the corporate environment? If so, what have you done to overcome it? Has anything worked successfully for you?

Karl Kapp said...

Yes, it does often seem that people believe that work and fun or games should never mix. "We need to be 'serious' to be successful!--they are thinking."

At times I see this as a generational thing. Baby Boomers tend to be very serious about work while the younger "Gen Y" or "Gamers" as I call them are more willing to have games as part of learning and work.

Check out my post Games Aren't Cutsey for more thoughts on this subject.

Thanks for this comment.

Anonymous said...

I found the same thing in the corporate environment, even for companies that say they are innovative. I think all comes down to the leadership of the organization. If the leader says they are innovative but scoffs at even simple elearning games BEWARE. It's a matter of practicing what you preach. You can target the next generation successfully if you aren't willing to accept the differences between you.

Karl Kapp said...

Games still have a long way to go before they are generally accepted as effective tools for tranfering knowledge. Still, kids play games to learn language and social skills and even something as simple as Flash Cards is a type of game...see how many you can get right in a certain period of time...that is one way to make learning the multiplication tables at least a little more tolerable. If anyone knows of good games for teaching Algebra...let me know, my son, myself and my wife are all taking seventh grade algebra and we could all use a little fun in the process.