Motivation, Learning, and Game Design

Motivation, Learning, and Game Design

Mahboubeh Asgari (Simon Fraser University, Canada) and David Kaufman (Simon Fraser University, Canada)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60960-195-9.ch213
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Abstract

While there are thousands of educational computer and video games in the market today, few are as engaging and compelling as entertainment games. Some entertainment games have also been used in classrooms and have proven to produce incidental learning (e.g., Civilization III, SimCity). This has demonstrated that learning can occur through playing computer and video games, although it does not address the question of how to design engaging games for learning that incorporate specific learning objectives. As educators, we generally design instruction by specifying our learning objectives and then developing our learning materials to address these objectives. The authors of this chapter argue that there are a number of elements used in entertainment games that motivate players, and using these elements in the design process for educational games based on learning objectives would create motivational and engaging educational games. This chapter outlines the elements needed to develop such games.
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Introduction

During the past 40 years, computer games have been played with a variety of technologies and on a variety of devices: from a floppy disk; CD-ROM; through the use of e-mail; on the Internet; with handheld machines such as the Game Boy, mobile phones, and game consoles such as the Sony PlayStation 2 or Nintendo’s GameCube. These powerful tools have the potential to create environments that increase motivation, engage learners, and support learning (Cordova, 1993; Dempsey, Haynes, Lucassen, & Casey, 2002; Gee, 2003, 2004; Lepper & Malone, 1987; Rieber, 1996; Rosas, Nussbaum, Cumsille, Marianov, Correa, et al., 2003; Shaffer, Squire, Halverson, & Gee, 2005; Squire, 2004, 2006; Stewart, 1997). They have a great appeal to teachers and for learners, making it important to examine the characteristics that help with the design of educational games that are motivating and engaging.

While there are thousands of educational computer and video games in the market today, there are very few as engaging and compelling as entertainment games; the best known examples are Where in the World is Carmen San Diego? (Broderbund Software, 1985) and The Oregon Trail (Minnesota Educational Computing Consortium, mid-1980s). Meanwhile, there are some entertainment games that have been used in classrooms as an add-on to the regular curriculum materials and instruction, such as Civilization III, and SimCity, and proven to produce incidental learning though they were not initially designed and intended for education. This demonstrates that learning can occur through playing computer and video games, although it does not address the question of how to design games for learning that incorporate specific learning objectives while providing engagement.

As educators, we generally design instruction by specifying our learning objectives and then developing our learning materials to support learners in meeting these objectives. The authors of this chapter argue that there are a number of elements used in entertainment games that motivate players, and if these elements were used in the design process for educational games based on prescribed learning objectives, then we could create motivational and engaging educational games. This chapter outlines the elements needed to develop such games.

The authors first address the importance of motivation in engaging students and increasing their learning. Knowing that computer and video games are motivating and engaging, the authors discuss the need for integrating these games in education and examine the positive affect of games on learning. Civilization III and SimCity are then explained as entertainment games that have been used in regular classrooms and have produced incidental learning. Finally, the elements incorporated in the design of such engaging entertainment games are outlined so they can be applied to the design of educational games that are based on prescribed learning objectives.

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