GDC 2008: NeverWinter Nights Teaching Journalism

This story comes from Serious Games Source and provides a lot more detail on the University of Minnesota program that's using a mod of NeverWinter Nights to teach journalism skills. You can find the full story here.

The principle behind the game is to teach the method and reasoning of information-gathering and synthesis, and communication-related analysis skills. As video games are, as a medium, essentially a simulation of the decision-making process, they provide a powerful tool for exploring the hypothetical implications of the player's choices. In contrast to the typical academic model of learning, where success is measured in terms of making the correct choices, video games follow a more naturalistic method, where every mistake adds to the player's overall sense of understanding, leading to a more nuanced grasp of the problem at hand.

Paul's game involves a crashed tanker truck, leaking a poisonous gas that has forced an evacuation of a downtown area. The player has to interview subjects, cross-reference accounts, and generally figure out how to interpret a broad and conflicting pool of information, much of which takes specific skill and nuance to wheedle out of subjects.