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Game designers create immersive experiences that keep players engaged for hours. In games, players immediately take action, make meaningful decisions, and volunteer to spend more and more time finding treasures or defeating villains. Meanwhile many corporate e-learning experiences are less than engaging. What instructional designers need to do is steal ideas, techniques, and methodologies from game designers and incorporate those ideas into our instructional design.
Don't Think Like an Instructional Designer—Think Like a Game Designer
By Karl M. Kapp
Gamification of Learning &Instruction
Don't Think Like an
Like a Game Designer
Good game designers know that games
are engaging because they require action
Action draws in the player and
encourages further engagement.
Start with action.
It helps defeat boredom and
apathy on the part of the
Too often instructional design is about
the content and not about the actions
that need to occur.
Game Design is about action.
Vogel, J. J., Vogel D.S., Cannon-Bowers, J., Bowers, C.A., Muse, K., & Wright, M. (2006). Computer gaming and
Interactive simulations for learning: A meta-analysis. Journal of Educational Computing Research, 34(3), 229-243.
Research indicates that learners who
used interactive games for learning
had the greater cognitive gains over
learners provided with traditional
Ok, next decision.
Provide a map with the location of all
the Supervillain hideouts.
Create a sense of mystery and
curiosity concerning the location of
Build curiosity & mystery into a game. Reveal
locations of Supervillain hideouts throughout the
course of the player’s journey.
A sense of suspense, mystery
and intrigue draws people into
games and can draw them into
learning as well.
OK, next decision, should we:
Make the game easy so we don’t discourage the
Make the game challenging, knowing some
players will fail the first few times.
Jones, B., Valdez, G., Norakowski, J., & Rasmussen, C. (1994). Designing learning and technology for educational reform. North
Central Regional Educational Laboratory. [Online]. Available: http://www.ncrtec.org/capacity/profile/profwww.htm and
Schlechty, P. C. (1997). Inventing better schools: An action plan for educational reform. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. Chapter 2
“The Gamification of Learning and Instruction.”
You can’t stop all of
This is a
In fact, give them the
Kobayashi Maru of challenges.
Look! Things that are too easy or too difficult
will not pique a learner’s interest because they
lead to boredom or frustration.
White, R.W. (1959) Motivation reconsidered: The concept of competence. Psychological Review, 66, 297-333.
Research has shown that challenge is
correlated with intrinsic motivation and
motivation related to the desire to seek
competence and self confidence.
When given control over their learning, research
has shown that learners invested more and
attempted more complex strategies than when
they had no control. So give learners control.
Cordova, D.I., & Lepper M. R. (1996) Intrinsic motivation and the process of learning: Beneficial effects of
contextualization, personalization and choice. Journal of Educational Psychology, 88, 715-730
Lot of information, thanks. So
let me ask one more question.
Here are five tips to help an
instructional designer to think like a
1) Begin with activity
2) Create curiosity, mystery, intrigue
3) Create a challenge for the learner
4) Put learners at “mock” risk
5) Give learners choices