|Photo by Bjorn Hermans|
What makes games so enticing?
If you think about all of those games, they all share certain features:
- Voluntary participation
The feedback lets us know that we are succeeding with points, XP, leveling up, badges, etc. Or if we do something wrong, feedback comes in the form of fewer points, losing a “life,” starting a level over, or losing the game to an opponent. The great thing about games is that negative feedback usually leads to trying again.
Voluntary participation is a huge part of what makes playing a game fun. It includes the decision of whether to play the game or not. I think this also relates to the amount of choice within the game. We enjoy playing when we can choose how to participate.
How does traditional education compare with games?
Some voluntary participation and choices may be included, but not nearly as often as mandatory activities, at least in traditional classrooms. Too often students feel trapped in school, forced to do whatever activities teachers put in front of them. Where’s the fun in that?
As I consider my teaching, I would like to design learning activities that are more like games. I would like to give students more choices, so that they have more of a sense of voluntary participation. I would like to set up activities that provide variety and scaffolding so that they are at just the right level of challenge. I want to set up feedback systems that recognize students for their accomplishments and encourage them to try again. I think 3DGameLab will provide the structure for these learning activities.
My thinking about games in education has been influenced and inspired by Lucas Gillispie and Peggy Sheehy through NCSLMA and NCTIES conference sessions this school year. Gillispie’s blog Edurealms is a great place to read more about games in education.