Just two days until I will host a workshop about game based learning at this year’s Digital Shoreditch Festival. During the workshop I want to explore ways of how any game can be used to get students interested in topics like software development, technology, science, maths and arts.
My approach to game-based-learning is not about playing serious games or “edutainment” games. Instead I think that ANY game can be used as a tool for teaching STEM (science, technology, engineering, math)
Learning by playing games
The purpose of playing games is to learn. By playing a game we train various skills. Games like “Civilization” teach a lot about decision making and how to balance complex systems – and by doing this players learn interesting historic facts within a meaningful context.
Being a guild member or leader in World of Warcraft will teach you a lot about management and leadership skills and effective team work.
Learning by reverse designing games
Although it might be controversial whether or not playing computer games make people better in performing tasks in real-life, once you start to reverse design a game and to break it down into its components game-based-learning enters a whole new dimension.
My approach is to create a Game Design Document for an already existing game – any game. In order to do this students use tools like Visio or Omnigraffle to create flowcharts and to model the UX design and game flow.
Students use Spreadsheets to balance the game’s parameters.
Another task is to prototype game mechanics using Machinations diagrams, which is nothing else than coding in a completely visual and highly iterative way.
And it doesn’t stop there. Why is the game fun? Finding answers to this questions will teach students a lot about what motivates us.
No other area of software development involves so many different skills than game development. On the other hand, technologies and methods used in game development are used in other areas of software development as well. By understanding how a game works students learn a lot about software development and STEM.