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A quick search of Wikipedia finds that we need to do some work documenting and updating the definition of “serious game” and “game-based learning” — at least in Wikipedia. Consider this post a call for “all hands on deck!”

The number of groups, institutions and individuals working on the subject of games and learning is growing. Academia has been studying video games and learning for the better part of two decades. Most academics would agree with Wikipedia’s definition of “serious games.” I also like the cryptic “game-based learning” definition that currently exists in Wikipedia: “Game-based learning is a branch of serious games”. My understanding of a geeky separation factor between the two has been that video games are built with complex “game engines” usually costing millions, while casual games or “edutainment” games have been built in Shockwave, Flash, and Java (to mention a few programming languages) sometimes at no real monetary cost. According to Jim Gee, the commercial video game by its very need to competitively succeed in the marketplace has evolved into a strong pedagogical machine. The video game must be challenging and that requires continuous learning (“keep the gamer at the edge of his/her competency level”). I am personally more interested in “game-based learning” (a definition that needs the most work on Wikipedia) since as a subset of the “serious game,” it generally refers to games built for the purpose of teaching a body of knowledge. The eLearning Guild in its research document, “Immersive Learning Simulations”, attempts to group both games and simulations. The guild audience primarily consists of corporate eLearning employees. Here is a brief listing of what might be included in a Wikipedia definition of “game-based learning” throwing a wide net of potential constituents involved in teaching something using games or simulation, however “casual”:

The game is designed according to learning objectives or some instructional design methodology that requires the player to absorb, do, connect/apply the subject—usually considered a higher form of learning. Can you say- “Bloom’s Taxonomy?” See Clark Quinn for good instructional design. The game provides experiential learning experiences while combining scoring or other game elements like “power ups” puzzles or back story. It lets you practice without fear of failure: a sales pitch to different types of customers, lead a large university, be a construction project manager, program traffic lights, and so on. Can you say- “Kolb”? See Clark Aldrich for good simulation design. The game has a fantasy element that engages the learner to learn more about a specific field of study like physics or algebra. The game design promotes fun and flow. The game encourages the learner to seek additional material on the subject outside game play or requires outside research to play the game better.I’m sure you can help and add more. Please comment below. So…who should take the lead with editing Wikipedia?

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