Game-based learning has witnessed tremendous growth and adoption in the past few years and continues to be recognized as one of the most important elements of the modern learning approach. A famous quote rightly says, “Play is our brain’s favorite way of learning”. Endless life lessons have been derived from games that we all have played from childhood until date. Games in any form are a source of fun, competition, motivation, and learning. The world of education and training is no different. There is so much that your learners can gain from games. Be it a classroom game or a virtual challenge, games engage learners like no other approach.
What Differentiates a Game from another Learning Activity?
Teed (2004) suggests that there are several elements that define an activity as a game:
- Competition: The score-keeping element and/or winning conditions motivate players and help assess their performance. Players don’t necessarily compete against each other. Actually, a lot of games have players working as a team to overcome obstacles built into the game.
- Engagement: Learners get so engrossed into the game that they do not want to stop until the game is over. Researchers term this phenomenon as “intrinsic motivation” and attribute it to four sources, namely – challenge, curiosity, control, and fantasy.
- Immediate Rewards: Learners get excited when they win or get points. Sometimes, even simple or analytical feedback motivates them to play the game once again.
When you design a learning game, you need to choose mechanics that seem appealing for your students, whilst also ensuring that they help learners achieve the desired objectives. Points, badges, levels, and leaderboards are some common game mechanics that are deployed in eLearning courses. You could also cache in on certain emotions like humor, surprise, and excitement through games.
Best Practices to Follow for Game-Based Learning
To use any kind of game-based activity in your learning, here are some best practices you could follow to ensure the best results.
1. Specify Game Rules at The Start
No matter how popular the game already is, it is always a good idea to explain all the game rules at the start, to avoid learners getting confused later. Don’t assume that all learners know how to play the game.
2. Be Open to Varied Game Formats
As an educator or trainer, do not start with a preconceived notion about any game in mind. For example, a particular game is only good for a certain age group of learners. To your surprise, an adult learner might enjoy playing ‘Cheese Quest’ and a kid might enjoy something that imitates a bowling alley. Keep all your biases aside and choose something that suits your requirements best.
3. Choose the Right Template
If using a template, choose a game that best matches your course’s objectives and makes use of relevant game-mechanics. For example, if all you need to know is your learner’s take on a concept, then a simple ‘happy meter’ game can solve the purpose. If the idea is to test your learners’ knowledge, then using a format like ‘Mountain Climb’ or ‘Cheese Quest’ might be a better idea.
A Tool to Build Learning Games
There are quite some tools in the market that can help you build engaging learning games. Raptivity, a popular interactivity building tool, is one of them. It offers ready-to-use learning game templates that combine learning with fun. These games can be easily customized without any programming knowledge and can be easily used as part of your online classrooms or training.
Here are some game templates from Raptivity.
A game-style template where there is no right or wrong and everything is measured as a perspective.
An adventure game where players need to answer some questions correctly to reach a mountain peak.
A game that builds on thrill and excitement as learners bowl for a strike attempt.
A fun quest to help the little mouse get his favorite cheese by answering some questions. An audience pleaser all the way.
Are you a fan of game-based learning too? Which learning games and tools are your favorites? I would love to know. Please comment below.