Game Design Principles Related to eLearning – Part 1
Game design can be applied directly to eLearning to enhance the students learning experience. In fact, before eLearning was even a thing, game design was implementing advanced learning theory and adult learning principles. From concepts like proper feedback, to Bloom’s Taxonomy, game design was the original custodian for all our modern eLearning concepts and principles.
Feedback is Essential in eLearning
Let’s take a simple and fairly universal example in the form of ‘Super Mario Bros’. Every time the character performs an action there is a form of feedback, it plays an integral role in maintaining the players attention. The feedback is multi-faceted in that there is a sound effect to indicate the action, followed by some kind of positive or negative reward such as earning points or losing a life. The feedback is even influenced by the music which will respond to the players interactions. Sometimes the music plays a deeper motivational role, for example if Super Mario drops into a secret location, the music speeds up to motivate the player to adhere to a restricted time limit. You don’t need someone to explain to you the urgency required of the player, as the music motivates it. The feedback acts as a guide, it motivates the users actions without the need for explanation, or alternatively to enhance the explanation. Without the feedback, we would lose interest. The game would feel like a shell of itself, cold and dry – much like your eLearning if you do not heed this advice.
One of the best summaries I have heard for maintaining the viewers attention in eLearning is to straddle the line between anxiety and boredom. This is commonly applied to game design, and what it really is is the application of Blooms Taxonomy. Introducing concepts simply and having them develop in difficulty with each recollection or application thereof. Our pal Mario is a great example, he starts off by running in a straight line, the most basic of movements. This is followed by the introduction of jumping, which is followed by jumping on a moving target. As the game progresses the mastery of the character becomes more and more essential as the tasks become progressively more challenging. Now if the game required you to perform advanced movements from the start many players would become anxious and ultimately lose interest. The same can be said for if the game did not increase in difficulty, the players would become bored as that would be the equivalent of asking the same questions over and over again, the student does not feel like they are progressing.
In this article we covered the importance of proper feedback and the application of Bloom’s Taxonomy to game design and eLearning, in part two of this article we be exploring more motivational tools like competition, intuitive design and storytelling.
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