11 December 2009

The missing ingredient in educational games

This article asks, “Can gaming change education?” I’ve been writing a bit this lately, but I was frankly disappointed with a lot in the article. For one thing, how did “gaming” become “video gaming” only?

I was more surprised by the list of MIT’s principles for creating a game. They have 15 principles, and not one of them mentions the most important word about a game:


In fact, “fun” appears just once in the entire 2,500 word article. With an attitude like that, is it any wonder that so many educational games have struggled to work?

Additional: MIT isn’t so dour as I first indicated; see the comments.


Anonymous said...

I agree whole heartedly! Why can't educational games include fun?

Wayward Son said...

No matter what MIT thinks, if a game isn't fun or exciting somehow...it's going to gather dust around my kids. And no, it doesn't have to be a video game to get their attention.

Zen Faulkes said...

It's been pointed out to me in another forum that the original article that the list of principles comes from does include a significant discussion about fun. It isn’t surprising that the original article has it, while the summary article does not. Still, you'd think that it would come up more in any discussion about games...

Crocodilian said...

Games _do_ teach, but well meaning educators misunderstand what they teach. Monopoly is not "about" real estate investing in Atlantic City any more than Chess is "about" feudalism.

Games are about gamesmanship. If the subject that you're trying to teach has a large element of games strategy in it, then a game is a useful training tool. If it doesn't then a game won't be particularly useful or interesting.

shogungraue1990 said...

First thing I learned from games, not everyone can be a winner. Sadly, the problem with today's youth is that a lot of kids are spoiled into thinking they always win.

Educational games can be fun if they are spun the right way. Most games do teach a lesson even if they aren't defined as "educational". Games like World of Warcraft enhance memory and teach you teamwork. Other games teach life skills that most schools figure you will pick up elsewhere. Too bad many kids don't actually see it the way I and my brothers did.