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There is often some question as to the validity of fantasy in an instructional game. Do elearning activities always have to be realistic in order to promote learning? Does the element of fantasy add anything of value to the experience?
The researcher Thomas W. Malone set out to study why games are fun and motivational. He ultimately came up with three components that made games motivating and enjoyable. They are: challenge, curiosity, and fantasy. His opinion was that “fantasy was a key element to making an instructional game motivational.”
In Malone’s view, there are two main reasons that elements of fantasy are beneficial to a learning game: cognitive and emotional. Let’s take a look at each of these and explore the relationship between fantasy and each of them.
There are several cognitive advantages to the use of fantasy in instructional games:
There is one big emotional component that makes fantasy-based games advantageous for learners.
The short answer is “no.” While the advantages discussed are true and valid, there does come a point when a trainee needs to gain experience in a realistic scenario. If one thinks of a training program as a ladder, with the top being applying the knowledge obtained to each real-world interaction with clients or customers, the fantasy learning game can be viewed as an integral rung on that ladder.