Infusing Games in Learning: Key Advantages

Prateeksha Dutt August 20, 2019
Have you ever observed a person playing a video game and witnessed the intense range of emotions, extreme task commitment, engagement, and focus they experience? You must have as a lot of people play digital games. Imagine if this level of passion and excitement can be diverted into learning!! How impactful it will be… Games have the potential to engage students in deep learning. As gaming evolves, its purpose is changing. Research has identified games as extremely powerful tools for modern-day teaching, learning, and assessments.  There is a fast-growing acceptance for the use of digital games in the learning and discovery processes and are no longer seen as things to be taken during breaks. The uses of digital games can be seen in K-12, higher education as well as corporate learning.The core concept behind game-based learning is teaching through repetition, failure and the accomplishment of goals. They garner higher interest through engaging participation and help develop critical thinking, decision-making ,imagination, and creativity. Even though games have been used as learning tool since age, many people are stuck with the mindset that games are activities to be taken up during breaks.Almost everyone wants to know how exactly does game – based learning contribute to learning …… or is it rather a hindrance in the process. Just as there’s a variety of views on instructional design, there are also quite diverging views on game-based learning. 
‘Game based learning’ and ‘Gamification’.
Game based learning and gamification in learning are two different concepts though there is a growing confusion between the two terms and thus, they are often used interchangeably. It is important to understand the difference. 
  • Game-based learning relates to the use of games to enhance the learning experience. 
In game-based learning, the content is adapted to a game story and rules are set. The educators have been using games in the classroom for years.
  • On the other hand, gamification refers to the use of game elements in the non-game situation.
These elements are used to motivate the learners while keeping them active and engaged. In gamification, the content is not adapted into a game situation, instead game elements such as badges, leader board and game-like scoreboard are embedded into the learning content. Let us talk about the game based learning. 
Designing a Learning Game 
While the learner may have fun while going through the game-based learning but crafting the game as a learning tool is not an easy  game. The process is similar to designing a lesson plan. It starts with identification of learning goals. Skilled instructional designers, curriculum experts, game designers, visual designers game architects, user interface/experience specialists are involved in designing  a learning game. The key challenge in designing a learning game is that it should not merely  end up becoming a game; it must drive the learning point. A three-way process is followed to come up with game design
  1. Research on subject matter and game play 
  2. Analysis of engagement factors, average time spent, what keeps the learners hooked and so on.
  3. Apply the learnings in design and develop a high level design
Factors influencing game design
  1. Sometimes, a game may create a rule-based experience, which gets a little boring and lacks engagement. Within the design the instructional designer must ensure that the learner is engaged and do not leave the game if they are not able to crack a problem.
  2. Unrewarded efforts may cause the learner to become unmotivated so introducing partial rewards may help.
  3. Gaming becomes addictive so this addiction should be leveraged positively in the design.
  4. Align the goals of the games align with the learning goals of the class. A strong instructional design can help in this case. 
  5. Ensure the game is fun but not a distraction to learning 
Key Advantages
1.Game Based Learning has shown noticeable improvements in learning abilities of learners. 
  1. It gives learners the opportunity to have fun while learning and creates and environment that enables engagement and immersion in content.
  2. Role playing games and other quest-based games are very effective in turning  passive learners into active participants.
  3. Game-Based Learning helps in simplifying difficult concepts.
  4. It makes learning multisensory and more alive. The more the learners do, the more they learn; the more they assimilate and the more they retain.
  5. In Game-based learning, the learning experience is personalized; the learners can evolve in their own rhythm, in a safe way.
7.Game-based learning encourages collaboration.
  1. Games help the learner learn from the mistakes and failures in a safe environment.
To conclude. Personally, we at Magicedtech strongly believe that gaming could be used as an educational tool with care. A strong instructional design is a must in the game otherwise it may just end up another game that does not offer any learning.

Prateeksha Dutt

As a Lead Instructional Designer with Magic Edtech, Prateeksha is actively engaged in conceptualizing and designing various digital learning objects and immersive offerings.