Here are three videos from the Extra Credit series that are thought provoking in the area of game design. If you are thinking of using games for learning, check these out and think about the messages.
Here is the first video about using games in education and how “voluntarily” playing games is a HUGE part of playing games. So we might need to re-think how we introduce games into a learning environment. Makes sense. Can we peak curiosity to play rather than “force” play.
When can struggling and difficulty actually be fun and lead to learning? Think about the difficult vs. punishing from a learning perspective not just from a game perspective. Don’t change rules and give the player (read learner) enough tools to solve the problem they are confronting. While learning design might not have the exact same goal as creating really difficult games but the ideas about engagement make a great deal of sense in drawing in the learner.
Here is an interesting discussion of how to make “conversation” in games as intriguing as combat. I think this particularly relevant since most learning games do not involve combat and people always say, “yeah, games are fun because of combat, but as a xxxxx professional, I never do combat.” Perhaps not but verbal exchanges in almost any profession are universal. Listen to the different ideas about verbal mechanisms and check out the game they discuss.