Feedback in Learning Games

One great element of learning games is the amount of feedback that you can provide is usually more consistent and more evident than feedback given in more traditional learning venues

Whether you give your players immediate or delayed feedback depends on how you want them to use the information and the type of information you are giving. For actions taken by the player, like pushing a button or jumping, it is best practice to give them feedback immediately unless you are simulating an action where that information would not be readily available. Immediate feedback is also important when the player is getting information about a changing game state that they must rapidly respond to. Examples of this could be a crackling sound of nearby fire or the player’s health meter dropping to show they are being harmed.

For feedback that is based on the player’s performance there are a few additional considerations. Sometimes immediate feedback, like a “Good Job!” message from the system, can encourage players. Other times delayed performance feedback, like an overview at the end of a round or level, is best. Consider how quickly you want players to respond to feedback, if the feedback would be distracting, and if you want the player to gauge their own performance.

It is good to take into account the player’s level of experience. Inexperienced players will benefit from immediate feedback more than other players because they are unsure of their own performance and the state of the game environment. For more experienced players sometimes it is beneficial to withhold feedback for a while so the player can evaluate their own performance and ideally change their tactic based on that evaluation.

Questions to ask when considering timing:

  • Is the player new or experienced?
  • Do you want the player to change behavior immediately or in the future?
  • Do you want the player to self-correct?
  • Do you want the player to see the consequences of a wrong move?
  • Will immediate feedback be helpful or distracting?

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