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Building a Serious Game for Education

Via: Hack Education - Building a “Serious Game” for Education, Part 2
by Audrey Watters on 20. Sep, 2011

Last month, Nathan Maton and Audrey Watters started a conversation at Hack Education blog about what a Serious Game for education might look like. Part two of their ongoing conversation is now live (please find also Unschooling Rules – Serious Games As Microcosms For Learning).

Here are the highlights:

Serious Gaming As “Nuanced As An Essay”

Nathan explains the above statement in the context of environmental sustainability.

“In an essay you pick an argument and clarify what you mean by it. Let’s imagine you think CFLs are the future of light bulbs, and then you’d have to argue why that is the case and talk about the energy efficiency of different light bulbs.”

“Now let’s imagine that’s a Serious Game. With the same level of nuance, in the game you need to make the mechanical response of the system showcase that benefit for the player. If CFLs don’t give you more long term benefit than the alternative, you have to make the system more nuanced. This could apply to any topic from revolutionary war history to continental philosophy (although a philosophy game would be hard to make fun)”.

Educators Need To Get Gaming If They’re Going To Use It

Audrey: I think more educators are coming to recognize how gaming can be an important part of the learning experience. But all of this is arguably complicated by the idea of “gamification” — scoring, badges, “leveling up” — how do we unravel some of these pieces from what already motivates or fails to motivate learning?

Nathan: Lee Sheldon had a great idea to make it about experience rather than grades, so you have to complete an amount of things and demonstrate mastery rather than continually perform in the top 10% on each assessment. On a more fundamental level, educators need to get gaming if they’re going to use it. I’d argue the most important thing we could do is give educators meaningful game experiences to reflect on as they develop curriculum.

Audrey: Where do we start? How do we start? How do we convince educators, game designers — everyone who wants to play — that this is important/useful/interesting?

Nathan: There’s no one way to do it although I do outline a general strategy in the last paragraph above. The most important thing is to always find your passion if you want to change something. Aside from that, contact me or others working in the space. I’m currently working on three games in this space (and am looking for partners) as well as helping to run Gameful, a site where people are discussing these questions in forums on a regular basis.

Read the full article at Building a “Serious Game” for Education, Part 2.

Nathan Maton In His Own Words

“I am curious about what motivates people and make games & technology solutions to inspire & teach them.”

“I’ve been teaching for ten years and making technology products for five.  I have worked with communities as an organizer, taught individuals one on one and through media as a writer, marketer, advertiser, game designer and interactive experience manager. I write and publish articles on educational technology, national identity, digital education, political belief development and more in research and policy journals.”

“Here’s a list of people I’ve worked for: Google, Foursquare, Pew, NYU, Penn State University, Northern Virginia Community College, YouthBuild DC Public Charter School, Nike, The Economist, National Geographic, Red Bull, Zagat, Samsung, Nokia and more.”