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The development and popularity of serious games are an indication that the face of learning is changing. Serious games are designed to serve as an experiential learning tool, reaching beyond the pure entertainment aspect of many games.
One of the major benefits to serious games is their incorporation of entertainment as a means to equip learners with knowledge that can be used in real life. However, serious games are more than just an attractive, interactive means of getting people involved and raising interest levels. While the appeal of game-based learning to a broader audience is one of the most important aspects of serious games, it is not the only purpose. Designed to engage the learner, serious games are also in place to meet specific educational goals. With all of the above in mind, the assessment of a serious game also possesses interesting challenges.
The emergence of game-based learning creates a whole new perspective of learning and instruction. With this comes the need for alternative, innovative ways to assess the impact of learning through serious games and technologies. Developing a successful serious game reaches beyond the game itself; it also includes having a system in place that enables you to readily assess the students' learning outcomes.
Evaluating the effectiveness of a serious game will allow you to pinpoint which games work best for a given goal or objective. With this, it is helpful to have an objective in mind before the creation of a game. Outlining the learning objectives of a game will directly translate to the overall outcome and experience of the learner. If the objectives are not clearly stated, it will make the assessment of the game quite difficult. Since the overall goal of game-based learning is to provide learners with knowledge and useful skills that can be used in the real world, having a meaningful goal in place should be the first step.
Having a defined objective for the game in place is one aspect, but it may also be beneficial to keep in mind the overall experience of the learner. This includes welcoming feedback, adjusting the game as needed to ensure it is both engaging and challenging, and implementing a design that is appealing to a wide range of learners. Additionally, game-based assessment may allow you to look at the actual medium itself, determining its effectiveness. Certain platforms may work better for specific situations and learning experiences, so it is helpful to take into consideration the learner experience and opinion of the game. Game-based learning encourages critical thinking and enhances learners' problem-solving skills, and this can only be properly dissected by closely analyzing and listening to the feedback of learners.
Game-based learning has the capability to focus on serious topics and turn them into a stimulating learning experience, but this has to be done carefully and attentively. Having defined learning objectives in place and assessing the effectiveness of the game through feedback and real world application are integral to the game's success and the overall experience of the learner.