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Digital Learning Game Design: Lessons from the Trenches


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Learning games - and gamification of learning - are hot trends. What does it REALLY take to produce a learning game, and how do you produce a good one? This presentation outlines 6 lessons learned with links to games that offer examples for the lessons learned.

Digital Learning Game Design: Lessons from the Trenches

  1. 1. Digital Learning Game Design Lessons from the Trenches Presented  by   Sharon  Boller  &  Kristen  Hewe2   Bo#om-­‐Line  Performance,  Inc.  
  2. 2. What do we even MEAN by game? An  ac4vity  that  has  an  explicit  goal  or  challenge,  rules  that   guide  achievement  of  the  goal,  interac6vity  with  either  other   players  or  the  game  environment  (or  both),  and  feedback   mechanisms  that  give  clear  cues  as  to  how  well  or  poorly  you   are  performing.  It  results  in  a  quan6fiable  outcome  (you  win/ you  lose,  you  hit  the  target,  etc).  Usually  generates  an   emo6onal  reac6on  in  players.  
  3. 3. Goals for Today Learning  Game   Design  Process   6  Lessons:  Best   Prac4ces;  PiMalls     to  Avoid   Tools  &   Templates  
  4. 4. Learning Game Design Process Play  games;   evaluate  what  you   are  playing   Get  familiar  w/   game  elements  &   how  to  use  them.   Think  about  the   learning  –  and   then  the  game.   Dump  ADDIE.  Go   agile  instead.   Playtest.Playtest.   Did  I  say  playtest?  
  5. 5. Let’s Play Games (and Evaluate)! Use  Handout  Page  5  to   do  your  evalua4on  of   these  games  as  we  play.  
  6. 6. Think About Learning FIRST Game Topic Who’s the target audience? (incl. characteristics) The INSTRUCTIONAL goal is: The LEARNING objectives are: Key content to include
  7. 7. Then Consider the Game Game Goal Core Dynamic(s)? Game Mechanics (aka “rules”) Game Elements • Theme • Story • Cooperation • Competition • Etc. • Strategy • Chance • Aesthetics • Resources
  8. 8. Dump ADDIE; go agile instead (iterative) Playtest.  Playtest.  Did  I  say  playtest?  
  9. 9. Learning  Game   Design     Process   6  Lessons:  Best   Prac4ces;  PiMalls   to  Avoid   Tools    &   Templates  
  10. 10. 3 Guiding Principles 1.  Play and evaluate lots of digital games before you starting designing your first one. 2.  Pay attention to how different core dynamics and different game mechanics affect the game play and the learning experience. 3.  PLAYTEST! Many, many times… and with the right audience. Expect lots of fixes each time.  
  11. 11. 6 Lessons 1.  You  need  game  content–  even  at  the  first   prototype.     2.  Aesthe6cs  and  theme  drama4cally  affect  desire   to  play.     3.  Fantasy  has  high  appeal  –  even  to  “corporate”   learners.   4.  Players  need  help  figuring  out  how  to  play  –  but   typically  won’t  opt  for  it.  
  12. 12. 6 Lessons 5.  Keep  rule  and  game  complexity  propor6onal  to   the  amount  of  4me  people  will  play  the  game.   6.  Scoring  is  hardest  element  to  get  right  –  keep   trying  un4l  you  do.  
  13. 13. 1   Game  content   is  needed  –     even  in  the   first  prototype.     –  h#p:// c2_examples/GGB/ storyShuffle/   –  h#p:// GameBuilder/ LateForLunch/  
  14. 14. Aesthe6cs  and  theme   2   affect  desire  to  play.  
  15. 15. From  Ho-­‐Hum  
  16. 16. To  Pre2y  Fun   h#p://  
  17. 17. To  Pre2y  Fun  
  18. 18. To  Pre2y  Fun  
  19. 19. 3   Don’t  dismiss   fantasy.     It  engages  people  a  lot.   They  can  learn   even  if  the  theme   doesn’t  mirror  reality.  
  20. 20. Players  need  help  figuring  out   4   how  to  play  so  build  help  in  via  levels,   resources,  and  tutorials.       Early  prototype  –  no  tutorial   Later  itera4on  –  tutorial,  guided  play   h#p://    
  21. 21. 5   Make  complexity   propor4onal  to   expected  playing  4me.     Cogni6ve   overload  is  real.   6   Scoring  is  hardest   element  to  get  right.     Cri6cal  for  player   engagement.   Takes  hours  –  and  mul4ple   playtests  -­‐  to  plan  out  and  do   well.    
  22. 22. Scoring Algorithm FTM
  23. 23. Learning  Game   Design     Process   6  Lessons:  Best   Prac4ces;  PiMalls   to  Avoid   Tools  &   Template s  
  24. 24. Tools & Templates •  Primer  on  Play  (p.  1)     –  Terms  and  defini4ons   –  Core  Dynamics  –  descrip4ons  of  common  ones   –  Game  Elements  and  ?s  to  ask  when  considering  whether   to  include/exclude  from  a  game   •  •  •  •  Game  Evalua4on  Worksheet  (p.  5)   Learning  Game  Design  Checklist  (pp.  7-­‐10)   Learning  Game  Design  Template  (Slides  6-­‐7)   Playtest  field  guide  (p.  11)  
  25. 25. Learning  Game   Design     Process   6  Lessons:  Best   Prac4ces;  PiMalls   to  Avoid   ???   Tools  &   Templates  
  26. 26. Thank You •  •  •  •     Twi2er:  @sharon_boller     (317)  861-­‐5935  –  office   •   •  Twi2er:  @KristenNHewe#     •  (317)  514-­‐1860  -­‐  office