How Games for the Brain Help in Designing Low Budget E-learning Courses

Yesterday I found this game called Fantasy Health Minister. The introductory page suggested to me that the game essentially is a simulation where my objective would be to improve the health of the nation and increase my political popularity while staying under budget – and keeping the people depending on me happy.

Wow! I was thrilled.

Even before I started playing the game, I was looking forward to a high graphic driven game. I imagined a virtual reality environment in 2D or 3D. I am used to playing Yahoo Games and Miniclip Games so it’s natural that I expect games to be heavy laden with graphics.

I was expecting a virtual world, a nation, the ministry, the office, a 3D character representing the Health Minister who I would identify with. I was looking forward to exploring the virtual world as a virtual Health Minister, interacting with people, helping them stay healthy.

Most often the graphics and animation used in the game entice us more than playing the game itself.

Games provide us with visual delight too.

But then Fantasy Health Minister gave me no visual delight. The game had minimum graphics. There was more text.

Sounds boring uh? Well, it is not as boring as you might think. The game is just too interesting to play. It is too engrossing and addictive.

During the game I had an objective to meet. I had to take decisions. I was actively involved in the game. Less graphics and the absence of animation did not bother me. My eyes were on the budget alloted and the judicious decisions I had to take.

Here is a glimpse of the game.

Note: Please click on the image to view a clearer version.

You start off with the game by choosing your party.

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As the game begins, you have the list of policy areas displayed.

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You need to choose up to 8 policies areas one after the other and select policies appropriately. For example I selected the first policy under the policy area : Administration and Management that allows patients to choose the hospital where they want to get admitted.

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As soon as you select a policy , you check the Status Report for result or consequences of the policy getting implemented which is essentially feedback for your decision. My decision satisfied patients. But then the opposition party and media accuse me of wasting money. Above all administrative costs are crippling.

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As you can see based on the feedback you get, you revise your decisions.

You need to make judicious decisions which will keep you going.Your objective is to popularize your party. So you need to take care that you are in the good books of all.

This is more of a mind game. The game engages your mind. It makes you think. There is both fun and learning. Your decision making skills improve by playing such games. What more can one expect?

Now comes the crux of this post. How do such games for the brain apply to e-learning?

While designing low or medium budget e-learning courses, the standard design that people follow is something as follows:

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Such courses

  • Flow in a linear fashion
  • Have a conventional navigation pane ( Previous and Next buttons)
  • Have the course modules listed in a logical fashion
  • Have static images to go with the on screen text

I am not against such courses. They are useful.

However such courses are nothing but a digitized version of a textbook.I would prefer reading something like this on print rather than straining my eyes on the computer screen.

Designing effective and engaging low budget e-learning courses is a challenge. You have to creatively work within limitations.

Strategies as used in the game Fantasy Health Minister work well for low budget e-learning courses.

Such strategies do not call for too much graphics or animation. The development time would be less. Yet learners will never get bored because there are other factors that would engage them.

Do you think this would work?

Type in your comments now!

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One Response

  1. […] Rupa wrote a fantastic post today on “How Games for the Brain Help in Designing Low Budget E-learning …”Here’s ONLY a quick extractEven before I started playing the game, I was looking forward to a high graphic driven game. I imagined a virtual reality environment in 2D or 3D. I am used to playing Yahoo Games and Miniclip Games so it’s natural that I expect games … […]

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