A Field Guide to Game-Based Learning
Chapter 10. Video Games for Learning
In a telling interview with Joystiq magazine, Valve Corporation (developer of the Steam gaming platform) founder Gabe Newell stated that he did not “believe in a distinction between games and educational games. A lot of times [the label] ‘educational games’ is a way of being an excuse for bad game design or poor production values.” Newell’s statement came after years of poorly executed “edutainment” games, titles that focused on content, not delivery. Part of the fun of engaging in games is learning how to play the game itself. The learning should be part of the core mechanic, not just transposed on it.
This chapter features a “behind-the-scenes” look at several major educational game releases. GlassLab’s lead designer, Erin Hoffman, shares the design process of its SimCityEDU: Pollution Challenge! game, which my students tested prior to release. She also details the making of Mars Generation One: Argubot Academy, GlassLab’s tablet-based argumentation game. This chapter also includes interviews with the next generation of learning game developers. I had the opportunity to speak with Filament Games’s Dan White, Schell Games’s Jesse Schell, MangaHigh’s Toby Rowland, and E-Line Media’s Kate Reilly and co-founder Alan Gershenfeld. Finally, I review one the best platforms to find learning games: BrainPOP. Featured are notes from my tour of its New York City headquarters.
Filament Games is a Wisconsin-based development studio with a simple design philosophy: Learning itself is a fun act (unofficially, its motto is to make learning games “that don’t suck”). Its games...
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