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How to Design an Educational Game

Learning can turn into a captivating adventure through the power of educational games! At Filament, our design philosophy revolves around evaluating learning objectives based on their potential to create engaging gameplay

via Giphy

We understand that games are uniquely adept at crafting immersive experiences around specific types of interesting problems. To make this process more accessible, we categorize these problems into three groups: Identity, Verbs, and Systems. Let’s explore each category and shed light on how they contribute to the creation of impactful and fun educational games!

Identity, or “Who am I in this game?”

One of the most enchanting qualities of games is their ability to transport players into new roles and identities. Games can invite you to step into the shoes of a scientist, urban planner, lawyer, wizard, or even iconic characters like Master Chief, Mario, or Link. By bestowing a unique perspective and set of skills upon the player, games ask them to understand and master the chosen identity. When learning objectives align with a specific identity, incorporating an identity strategy into the game design can lead to truly immersive and impactful experiences.

For example, imagine a game where you become a scientist exploring an alien planet, conducting experiments, and solving challenging puzzles to uncover its mysteries. By adopting this identity, players are encouraged to delve deeper into scientific principles and problem-solving techniques, making learning an enjoyable journey of discovery.

Verbs, or “What do I do in this game?”

Games are driven by action. Players are presented with specific means and constraints that dictate how they interact with the game world. These actions are then scaffolded and rewarded, allowing players to progress through the game and tackle increasing challenges. Whether it’s as simple as placing a Tetris piece or as complex as constructing a budget for a railway empire, actions become the core gameplay mechanic that embodies the learning objectives.

If the learning objectives involve specific actions, we strive to find digital equivalents or metaphors for those actions within the game. By doing so, we can provide players with continuous feedback, rewards, and increasing levels of challenge and complexity. As players engage with these actions, they are seamlessly learning and internalizing the concepts behind the objectives.

Systems, or “How does this game work?”

Every game operates within a constellation of rules that players inhabit. Rules govern the mechanics of the game, define interactions, and dictate the outcomes of player decisions. Some learning objectives are centered around understanding complex systems. In such cases, we design the game’s rules to illustrate those systems, allowing players to gain a profound comprehension of the objectives as a dynamic system in motion.

Consider a game that simulates an ecological ecosystem. Players must balance the population of various species, the availability of resources, and the impact of environmental factors. By experimenting with different variables and observing the consequences of their choices, players gain a comprehensive understanding of ecological principles and the delicate balance of nature.

Our educational game development process revolves around harnessing the strengths of games to create scaffolded, immersive experiences around specific types of interesting problems. Whether it’s stepping into a new identity, engaging in meaningful actions, or exploring complex systems, we are committed to designing games that align with your learning objectives and resonate with learners of all ages!

Educational games are not only a powerful tool for learning but also a gateway to captivating experiences that leave a lasting impact. By incorporating identity, verbs, and systems into the game design, we can create educational games that inspire curiosity, spark creativity, and foster a love for lifelong learning. If you want to embark on a journey where learning isn’t a destination but an ongoing quest – contact us for a free consultation!

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