The new Eldorado of e-learning: serious games
Serious games (SG) are one of the most important educational trends in recent years.
At the crossroads of gaming (from which gameplay concepts and technology are borrowed) and e-learning, this new medium allows users to learn and become more skilled in specific areas (a company’s internal procedures, business concepts and skills, etc.) while having fun and playing a real video game.
The secrets of a good serious game
While this innovative market has a tremendous amount of potential, you still need to make a “good” serious game.
A serious game must not turn into:
- A sort of “simulator” (a system which only borrows video game technology needed to create an immersive environment)
- Nor an “e-learning gadget” where the user is supposed to have fun facing a few challenges, but the software ends up looking like a decade-old distance learning platform
Learn while having fun
The main aspects of a serious game that must be considered include:
- The business processes and concepts to be transferred via the game
- The pedagogical follow-up in terms of validating acquired skills and verifying their transfer to real-life situations
It is also essential that the “serious” side of the game be hidden behind real game mechanics that are sufficiently motivating for the game to be perceived as such. The game needs to be fun to play and encourage you to learn.
We first need to determine the following:
- The best gameplay for the context
- The most exciting scenario
- The most thrilling challenges
So that players (sorry, learners!) enjoy the training.
Edutainment ergonomics: the wave of the future?
Creating a good serious game is challenging due to the diversity of approaches and skills needed for the project.
As pointed out in our talk with our partner C. Bellino (Dia-Logos) at the SEGAMED 2012 conference (dedicated to serious games in the medical field), the role of the ergonomist when designing a serious game is to ensure:
- The usability of the product (easy to start using, use of commands, error handling, etc.)
- You get the right mix between a pedagogical and playful approach
The user experience and the success of a serious game (in terms of notions and concepts learned) depend on the right mix of educational content and playfulness, as well as its usability.
A serious game is an ad hoc product, used to teach procedures or content in an immersive and playful way. This means creating:
- A “fake” video game, with graphics worthy of the name
- A fun dynamic (gameplay)
- A process for monitoring and validating the knowledge acquired and its transfer to real-life situations.