Games are inherently engaging mediums

Unlike books and videos, games require constant participation. Good games keep balance of flow state between difficulty and skill. Too difficult and the player will give up, too easy and there is no challenge.

Engaging mediums encourage thought, and games encourage active thought and strategization within the bounded world of the game. While playing a game we are actively learning a deep network of information and strategy, but this information often does little to transfer into real-world contexts

How might we take inspiration from games to design more engaging mediums for learning?

  • Games give a set of verbs to manipulate the game world (Design verbs not objects), known as game mechanics. There are typically one or two core mechanics (which define the genre) and then many more layers which can be introduced throughout playing the game.
  • Games present challenges (monsters, puzzles) which you must use these game mechanics to overcome. Often in new or interesting ways.
  • Games give the player agency over exploring and manipulating the game world. You can spend lots of time in one location or you can speed run through the game in as little time as possible.
  • Games often hide secrets and achievements that you can unlock. These are optional but give an extra challenge which either lets you further develop your skill or attracts you to come back later.
  • Some games often go over familiar locations multiple times but with different challenges or abilities you pick up along the way each time.
  • Some games will include a timer to speed you up and give a sense of impending danger.
  • Games often have leaderboards for high-achieving players
  • Engaging games will often have good pacing, alternating between slow relaxed gameplay and fast-paced battles or challenges