With instructional game design, as with any design, there are some common pitfalls one should strive to avoid. Here are a handful.
- Pitfall #1 – Undertaking this process without playing games. You can’t design learning games if you don’t play or like games. You must be familiar with different game types and experiences to design effective games for learning.
- Pitfall #2 – Skipping playtesting. This is a critical element in designing and creating a learning game. While easy to skip, not playtesting will cause problems in the future.
- Pitfall #3 – Skipping the pilot. Even after you have tested and retested the game, there is nothing like real players in a real setting to uncover flaws and problems, always conduct a pilot to avoid any surprises on a large scale launch.
- Pitfall #4– Trying to teach “everything.” One tendency is to try to pile on one objective after another in a game format. Too many learning objectives become complicated. Keep the number of learning objectives manageable.
- Pitfall #5 – Focusing only on fun. For games to be effective for learning, they need to be interactive. While fun can be defined in different ways and is a good goal, a singular focus on creating a “fun” game will not lead to learning and is the wrong focus.