The Combination of Learning and Play: Finding the Sweet Spot

Designing Digitally


Serious Game and elearning Company

Sometimes it seems that education is stuck between a rock and a hard place. Many educators who want to utilize the latest advancements in technology and learning theory are stopped short by one obstacle or another. Work is busy, face to face class-time is limited, and so are the funds. What is the answer to the quandary?

Finding the Balance

There are two kinds of activities that don’t live up to their educational goals:

  • Adding game-like qualities to a learning goal. Simply adding a cute name and keeping a score doesn’t make for an effective learning tool.

  • Taking a game that is fun and stuffing it with learning objectives. Likewise, making a fun game unrecognizable and no longer enjoyable doesn’t fit the bill either.

Organization Need to recognize that an effective learning activity must have its beginnings with elements of learning and play, working in tandem.

How Can an Organization Form a Union Between Learning and Play?

The most effective learning games merge elements of play and learning theory into a cohesive activity that engages, entertains, and educates. One way this can be accomplished is by keeping the elements that make a game engaging for the players, then putting them into the context of a learning experience. Put effort into the balance between fun and learning and you can find a sweet spot that engages, and educates. 


Strong Learning Game Can:

  • Captivate the players with an appealing story. Who doesn’t enjoy a great tale? Learners at any level will be drawn into an activity if the story is a good one. 

  • Are visually enticing. As with any type of game, learners are much more likely to want to be involved when the game looks fun.

  • Take the player outside of themselves and put them into the story. A player, student, or trainee will invest in the game when they can see themselves as a part of it.

  • Use mistakes as tools for greater understanding. In the setting of a game, errors are viewed as more of an impetus to keep trying than a failure.

  • Teach the necessary “hard skills” that are part of the curriculum, for example, specific math or reading skills. Game-based learning allows for relaying the necessary information in a more exciting context.

  • Teach “soft skills,” like critical thinking and problem-solving, that aren’t always spelled out in a curriculum. These important skills play a large role in the comprehension of the material that is presented. While they may not be specifically mentioned in the curriculum, they are vital to learning. Another way is by involving educators and student-testers in all the phases of the game development process.

Where do we start?

Allowing the audience to access your concepts, and determine the interest level of games, even in the earliest stages, gives designers an idea of what works and what doesn’t, as well as the chance to make adjustments before the project is too far along. Getting the seal of approval from the people who will be using the games is a good indicator for an eLearning company that they have created a product that will be successful. To learn more on how we can help you implement serious games for your organization contact us today!