Deconstructing Learning Games: Good vs. Bad


Learning games have it rough. Non-learning games are designed around a single primary goal: player enjoyment. That can be challenging enough, but learning games have two primary goals: enjoyment plus learning. This can feel like a struggle. Often, it seems like learning and fun are diametrically opposed ideas, dooming learning games to be either boring or ineffective. However, there are learning games out there that are fun while producing real learning. What’s the difference? The primary source of fun in a game is through the core mechanics- that is to say, the actions players repeatedly take while playing. An easy way to understand core mechanics is to think of them as the verbs of the game, jumping, bluffing, or trading, for example. Simply by playing, players acquire skill in these verbs through repeated practice. Therefore, good learning games are the ones in which the verbs of play are intrinsically linked to the intended learning outcomes. It goes to follow that bad learning games keep them separate.

One thought on “Deconstructing Learning Games: Good vs. Bad”

  1. Jackson says:

    Brillant was said in short and sweet!

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