Casual Games are designed for entertainment. Some casual games are preloaded on computers such as Solitaire while other casual games are downloaded. Learning can occur but mostly casual games are for fun.
Serious games are designed for learning. Simulations, military training, corporate education, health care are just a few ways games are designed for learning. It’s easy to find educational games on the internet from pre-school to university level. Serious games are categorized by genre, complexity, and platforms building maturity and learning.
Serious games focus on specific learning outcomes that can be measured. But do these serious games really promote learning? When the game design is focused on learning outcomes, then learning is possible. According to Mary Jo Dondlinger a game that motivates players to spend time on tasks mastering the skills of the game, is time spent stimulating learning outcomes. Even some casual games like EVE Online can produce real learning outcomes. One player from EVE Online stated that once he had managed a virtual corporation that spanned a universe he could easily manage a real corporation on earth.
Computer games with 3D graphics are being used in the workplace, for recruitment, to improve communication and train employees at all levels. The military trains soldiers using “virtually real” environments where soldiers build teams and prepare personnel for specific missions. One of the most popular games online today is America’s Army.
Advergames are a combination of casual and serious games and have been used as a form of marketing for movies and television shows. Advergames are sometimes the most visited section of brand websites promoting repeated traffic and reinforcing the brand.
But what does this mean for education in public schools?
A virtual learning environment needs to encourage content exploration, be learner-centered and individualized. Our digital native students prefer to:
- Receive information quickly
- View pictures and videos
- Interact and network with others
- Receive instant gratification and rewards
- Learn information that is relevant, useful and fun
Digital learners today need online learning that is stimulating and develops critical skills. Once successful program is DiDA Delivered, a diploma program in IT skills for secondary students in the UK. To check out the site please click here: http://www.dida-delivered.org/
The curriculum for this program includes 4,000 learning objects and 300 serious games and teachers can develop their own content to add to the learning environment. DiDA looks similar to Second Life and Active Worlds.
Considering that children ages 8-18 spend at least 50 minutes per day playing video games education needs to provide stimulating, learning environments where students acquire 21st century skills necessary for today’s workforce. To do this learning designers and game designers need to work together to provide a more engaging and effective learning environment for all students incorporating social networking, and other Web 2.0 technologies.
To learn more about online games for learning please read the entire article Serious Games: Online Games for Learning at: http://www.adobe.com/products/director/pdfs/serious_games_wp_1107.pdf