Chapter 16Integrating Instructional Content and Games

Why does understanding the architecture of successful entertainment games, as we studied in the previous chapter, matter to us in the construction of serious learning games? It matters because we want to retain the entertainment factor as we either incorporate instructional content into existing game structures or develop a new game to help teach our content. Going either way requires us to understand fully the nature of both so that their integration provides the maximum effectiveness of each.

In this chapter, we take a closer look at the different types of games created primarily for entertainment, classifying them in a continuum ranging from pure games of chance at one extreme to games of pure skill at the other. We look to see which structures most readily accommodate instructional content while also retaining the aspects that make them fun.

We then look at a practical method of integrating games and content by converting instructional content into rules having the same structure as the rules that define entertainment games.

Types of Games

Within the realm of cognitive games, it's useful to divide games into three major categories: games of chance, memory games, and games of skill (see Figure 16.1). Although many games have components of each, most games are primarily of one type. Roulette and bingo, for example, would be considered games of chance. There's very little you can do to affect the outcome. You just wait ...

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