Game-Based Learning Design Patterns: An Approach to Support the Development of “Better” Educational Games

Game-Based Learning Design Patterns: An Approach to Support the Development of “Better” Educational Games

Manuel Ecker (University of Education Weingarten, Germany), Wolfgang Müller (University of Education Weingarten, Germany) and Johannes Zylka (University of Education Weingarten, Germany)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60960-495-0.ch007

Abstract

This chapter introduces an approach to use best-practice experiences in terms of Design Patterns to support the development of high-quality and successful educational games. These Game-based Learning Design Patterns draw from previous work on Game Design Patterns and Pedagogical Patterns. The chapter provides background on the Design Pattern approach and explains the structure of the new pattern type based on selected examples. It also illustrates that existing patterns, e.g., from Game Design, may provide first evidence, while the identification of Game-based Learning Design Patterns is not straightforward.
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Introduction

Since Marc Prensky introduced the term Game-based Learning (Prensky, 2001), the development and application of computer games has received increasing interest, and a number of quite successful examples of learning games and serious games have been introduced (for a more detailed classification of these genres cf. Tang, 2009). The idea to utilize the highly motivating aspects of games and the inherent possibility to create situated learning contexts, and even the potential to initiate stealth learning is indeed fascinating. Yet, progress in this field isn't actually satisfying. The vast majority of learning games does not match the high expectations (cf. Jantke, 2006; for a recent comprehensive study Ritterfeld, 2009; and for a detailed analysis of specific examples Weiß, 2008). In fact, it has been argued that the same problems can be found in edutainment titles since the 1980s (Egenfeldt-Nielsen, 2008).

Still the question, how the development of educational games can be supported and the quality of content and design can be increased, remains. In this chapter we describe the approach of collecting best practices in this field in terms of so called Game-based Learning Design Patterns (GBLDPs). Those patterns support authors developing Game-based Learning applications and may probably improve the quality and educational integration in teaching and learning scenarios. We provide some background on Design Patterns and their application to combine know-how and best practices, as well as on the application of Design Pattern approaches in both, the domain of computer games and in the educational field. Based on existing approaches in these domains we describe and discuss a structure for GBLDPs. Moreover, we provide three examples for such patterns and their description utilizing the proposed structure as well as we discuss challenges in identifying and recording adequate patterns and best practices in the field of Game-based Learning which may be caused by the wide spectrum of possible applications of educational games and the corresponding instructional decisions.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Game-Based Learning: An innovative learning approach derived from the use of computer games that possess educational value or different kinds of software applications that use games for learning and education purposes such as learning support, teaching enhancement, assessment and evaluation of learners. (cf., e.g., Tang et al., 2009).

Educational Patterns: A semi-formal way of documenting a solution in the field of learning and instruction.

Game Design Patterns: A semi-formal way of documenting a solution in the field of game-design.

Pedagogical Patterns: A semi-formal way of documenting a solution in the field of learning and instruction.

Design Patterns: A semi-formal way of documenting a solution to a design problem in a particular field of expertise.

Game-based Learning Design Patterns: A semi-formal way of documenting a solution in the field of Game-based Learning.

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