Revolutions - Projections from Matthew Weise

Matthew Weise - Part III
Lessons learned from a commercial engine for educational games

Part of my long list of questions that I had for Matt was about educational gaming in general and any projections or suggestions he would have for others:

In additional to the game design and challenges, we spoke about the pitfalls to traditional educational games and how to avoid them. Matt knew that if the game was engaging, learning would come naturally through playing rather than in some cut-scene lecture. The game was not focused on learning, but on playing and learning through play. He described video games as the Trojan Horse for their ability to slip games and play into traditional lessons.

Weise cautioned not to make video games the “medicine in the apple sauce.” Simply importing traditional content into a game framework is one of the “stupidest things” to do for a educational purpose. Putting standard content into a game format does not make it fun or engaging for our students. For Weise, educational games are not about teaching bits of information, but they are about the process of exploration and reflection students undergo while playing. That is where the learning occurs.

Wiese offered some advice to other educators looking to use video games:

  1. Start with a broad focus – Allow the game engine to help determine the specific skills or outcomes it is best tread.
  2. Explore the engine - When analyzing an engine, ask “What can we teach with this?” Play with the game engine and see what can be done.
  3. Find the game - Once there is a broad pedagogy focus, and an understanding of what the game engine is capable of, then “find the game” based on the resources. At this stage, it is realistic to now set educational goals.
  4. Time – be prepared and realistic for the amount of time the project will take.

My conversation with Matt was very enlightening and really helped me think more about the potential for creating a information literacy based game and how we are using games in general in the classroom. What question do you have about some of the points Matt made?

In addition to these 3 posts, I'll post the transcript of Matt's answers later this week.