Games For Change Recap: Top Five Takeaways, Part Two

Posted June 10, 2010

Karen and I attended the Games for Change festival in New York City. Building on Karen's takeaways, I hereby submit my own five:

A GAME IS NOT A GAME IS NOT A GAME. The over-generalization of gaming is detrimental to communicating the value and potential for creating change. Some games, such as chess or basketball, have already stimulated change in the world. Others, such as outdoor team-building games or Sudoku, have been studied for achieving positive goals such as character building and memory retention. To be a good game designer or educator who wants to use games for learning, we need to understand the range of what exists and not oversimplify.

TESTING AND ITERATION. Children sometimes make incorrect conclusions based on their observations about the world, which are then corrected through proper schooling. When creating simulations that stimulate learning we must test often to ensure that we are not facilitating another misunderstanding.

NPG – NATIONAL PUBLIC GAMING. Similar to radio and television before it, gaming has the potential but not recognition for creating positive change in the world. The budgets of major game creators far exceed that of educators or grantees that hope to create a comparable product. The time is right to establish a group that recognizes the transformative potential of gaming and can solicit the funding required to compete with for-profit organizations.

ENGAGEMENT NOT ENTERTAINMENT. The number to pay attention to is the average length of visit, not simply the number of users. If we can create experiences that captures the audience's attention for a long span of time, they are more likely to learn something.

GAMES TEACH. All games teach something, even if the learning is simply how to master the particular game. The goal of a designer is to recognize whether a game is the best method to meet the desired educational needs or if using successful game dynamics to enhance the learning is a better option.

Pete Vigeant

Join The Conversation