The core essence of a learning game or gamified learning is difficult to pinpoint, and it could be more difficult to identify key factors that might maximize the learning process via gamification exercise. Unlike many activities, playing video games makes our brain produce a chemical called dopamine that increases learning and stimulates our thinking senses for sharper attention. Because the ultimate goal of a learning game is to improve memory, skills, attention and finally creative process among students.
However, using games for learning requires a rethinking of the learning objectives, a new model for ownership of tasks, complex structures for supporting learners and evaluation of the whole learning process. Hence it becomes more important in order to understand what would be the ideal elements that would form a well-designed learning game.
Here are some of the mechanics that should be considered when designing effective learning games:
1. GOALS OR OBJECTIVES:
Goals or objectives are very fundamental to learning games, as they set the overall direction of the activity. They tend to determine what the players need to do in order to win the game or complete the task. By ensuring objectives are set parameters in the game, educators can ensure that the learning game is no longer a casual activity. Hence, whenever the creators or the developers generate an idea for the game, they need to come up with questions like; What will the students learn from the game? What is the learning objective? Is the overall structure of the game ideal of the learning process? It is very important to understand that the learners realize the “purpose” of the learning game.
For any learning game to present the purpose, there needs to be a certain amount of challenge or difficulty that would push the learner to complete the task by overcoming the obstacles. The nature of the challenges could, however, be dependent on the developer, either it be a personal challenge or achieving tasks in a group. However because both skills are essential in student development, the developers need to find a balance between group-based challenge and single-player challenge. Game developers can also represent real-world issues that students can learn to deal with, for example asking them to manage money, budget or time.
3. THEME AND STORY:
Because of the nature of learning games, it is important to consider that most of the audience or consumers of such games is K-12 or younger audience. The most important quality which young students find immersive is a backstory, animation and sound effects. A story puts the learner inside the timeline, and he feels “part” of the story. This ensures that the learning process is much more “personal”. In order to create an enticing story for the learning game audience, it would be crucial to consider the aspects of characters, narration, animation, sounds, twists, problems and solutions.
The importance of rewards is paramount for any gamer. And this becomes more crucial when the purpose of the game is providing learners a sense of accomplishment. One of the most important reasons for including rewards in learning games is motivation as a thought of earning rewards helps the learner to repeat the learning process or help him stay motivated despite failing several times. Rewards are also crucial to ensure retention of the memory as a small award like a certificate might push students to complete the learning activity. Finally, rewards are important to create a sense of ownership. Achievement is one of the most important psychological driving factors of human motivation to bring desired changes. Once the students/learners that which actions are rewarded, they would be more interested in taking the learning tasks to the next level.
Considering all these elements Edbox offers a wide variety of game creation templates which you can readily create to either transform your classroom learning sessions or start gaining knowledge about game development. In addition to mind training games, Edbox also showcases game-industry's best coursewares in order to gain theoretical insights about game design application.