If you play a lot of games, you will definitely be able to identify the standard pattern used.
Every game has a goal and the steps to solve it. The challenge of every game lies in how quickly and efficiently you reach the goal.
In games you can skip things and start with the main activity. It is never mandatory to go through a game in a linear fashion.
For example in games, the introduction can be skipped and also the help section can be skipped. Of course you cannot skip levels in a game because that is the challenge in the game. It sustains interest and motivates the gamer to clear each level to see what comes next J However you can play some levels of a game, exit and then start from the same level where you left.
Using game concepts in learning will definitely engage and interest the learner.
Instead of giving lectures and lessons on a subject, try presenting the subject as a problem or an activity to the learner and allow him to solve the problem or participate in the activity. Learning must happen as the learner tries to solve the problem or indulges in the activity.
I will use the game called Blood Typing for illustration purpose.
Now here are the steps to create a game based e-learning course:
Start with a story/scenario
I have played an umpteen number of games and I have seen that every game starts with a story.
The story may be presented as a dialogue between two people or as a sequence of events with no dialogues or may be just visuals and no text.
The Blood Typing game begines with visuals of ambulance rushing to a hospital.
End the story with a problem and invite the learner to solve it
In most games the gamer takes over where the story ends, as in he gets to know the background story and then take charge to solve the problem.
In the Blood Typing game you have a talking head inviting the gamer to get the patient’s blood type and transfuse blood.
Guide the learner
All games help you with the list of controls you use to play the game. Some games have too many controls. There are some other games which require simple mouse clicks.
You can choose how you want the learner to play the game. But make sure that you explain to the learner how he/she has to play the game.
Some games give instructions in the form of written text and some others have a guided tutorial where you play the first level of the game with assistance.
In the Blood Typing game, you have a help section that tells you how to play the game.
Include Incentives and Rewards
Feedback, rewards, incentives motivate gamers to play the game further. I have played many games where you earn points and buy some boosters for the game for the points earned.
In e-learning, rewards will motivate the learner to explore and learn more.
In the Blood Typing game when you correctly transfuse blood, you get words of acknowledgement and encouragement.
Increase the challenge gradually
Every game gets interesting as it proceeds. A game starts at a basic level and proceeds to advanced levels. You master the game as you clear each level.
Coming to e-learning, get the learner started with a basic level activity or problem and increase the difficulty levels as the learner clears each level.
In the Blood Typing game, while treating each patient you have 3 levels of challenge.
Include Trial and Error
If the learner fails to successfully complete a level, he/she must be given another chance or umpteen chances till he/she actually succeeds. If the learner fails at level 2, he should be allowed to play the level again and not start from level 1.
The Blood Typing game allows you to repeat steps to do the blood transfusion right.
Now it is your turn. Have you worked on a game based e-learning course? If so please share your experiences.