Match Content to be Learning with Right Game Type

Matching the right type of game-thinking and mechanics to the right type of content to be learned, is the right way to design an instructional game.

Declarative knowledge is taught with simple games like Jeopardy-type games, matching games, hangman-type games, sequencing game and multiple choice games which reinforce declarative knowledge (information that needs to be memorized). Many e-learning development tools have simple game templates built-in and e-learning developers are sprinkling in those simple games to add interest to e-learning. While the addition of these games adds variety and interest to e-learning courses, this is not a highest value use of game-based learning. These kinds of games are easy and quick to develop but the real value is when games are designed to teach problem-solving, decision making and other higher order cognitive skills.

No one game strategy will address all of an organization’s needs, instead, the strategy needs to be composed of various parts. For example to learn declarative knowledge, critical information such as the names of products, ingredients and machinery simple matching games or drag and drop will address the needs of the learners. But to teach more complicated skills, problem solving and decision making more sophisticated games need to be develop which include primarily branching simulations.

Games that provide the most value to organizations are games focused on problem-solving because the most valuable learning that occurs is within organizations is problem-based learning. Problem-solving occurs when an employee is confronted with a previously unencountered situation and applies prior learning or knowledge to remedy to solve the problem. This is where employee knowledge creates the greatest value to the organization. Problem-solving in this context means tasks such as the creation of a business case for a new product, launching a social media marketing campaign, the generation of ideas for a new product or the development of a new subdivision of houses. Problem solving is any activity that involves original thinking to develop a solution, solve a difficult problem or create a new product.

The most effective games/simulations in this area are simulation-based games. These are where a learner assumes a specific role like a sales representative or claims analyst and then is confronted with a problem they must solve. This is usually done through a branching simulation where the learner responds to a series of questions and each question branches the learner in a different direction. In these games/simulations, the learners often acquire points or skills like “credibility” and then they perform acts and make decisions in a manner similar to what they would encounter while on the job. The can be highly effective for teaching decision making and problem solving. Many of these games are focused on a single learner but, increasingly, organizations are using simulation and game-based learning environments that allow for multiple players. This adds more realistic interactions within the game environment.

Posted in: Design, Games, Games video games

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Karl Kapp
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