An interview with an educational game designer

I had the opportunity and pleasure to ask a few questions to the owner of the company ERDAD advice training game Mark Janigaczowi, who is a consultant, business trainer and creator of simulation games. Some time ago I recommended you his channel on YT 
If you are interested in this topic, it is also worth to look at his company page Erdad.pl and on a fanpage on Facebook.

Below are my questions to him and his answer.

I am curious about aspects of the design of educational games. How do you approach a game that aims to develop a particular skill?

The development of a specific competency/skill is usually one of several goals that the game should meet. Remember that education is only one aspect of the use of this type of game. The common objectives of the pre-games are also, team integration, the values of presentation (conductive) games or the desire to reduce fluctuations in the company. The game Make IT like berries has 3 main educational goals:

  • Learning effective management of selected projects,
  • The presentation of management of the organisation, which works in a project
  • Giving players the current organizational culture ITberries.

However, the reasons behind the design of the game were related to the merits (with the desire to encourage the potential new members of the wheel to join its ranks).

In order to achieve the above needs, I had to start by developing a concept, actually three ideas, while conducting deeper interviews with current and former members of the wheel. The concepts were different, but all of them fulfilled their goals. The choice of one of these three concepts belonged to the ITberries board.

In the same way you should approach the work on any simulation game on request. For games that arise "with the need of heart" the beginnings are the same only the decision-makers change (and actually expand, because you need to conduct research on market needs-potential customers).

What is the truth of the game called educational differences from those that are not so called? For example, such as Magic The gathering also teach, eg. strategies, risk estimation.

Serious games are different from entertainment in that the aim of the designers is not (at least in the first place) the provision of simple entertainment, and the transfer of knowledge, development of important competencies (from the employer's point of view), To provide controlled experience, to draw attention to important social, health, etc. (Not every game serious is an educational game.)

The boundary appears to be constant, but you will always be able to provide an example that this boundary moves in one or the other direction. Monopoly game teaches certain behavior related to investing, but I would not want my money to manage a person who only took hundreds of hours in this game. However, if such a person dopełniłaby their knowledge gained eg. In the studies, played several batches of developed simulation game in the field of investment, I would not have such resistance. The question is what it is worth to ask in this context is whether wsiadłbyś to the aircraft that pilotowałaby the person without flying many hours on a specialized simulator? If your answer is no, why powierzyłbyś your money, your business, etc. People without a similar training?

Have you had the opportunity to check the effectiveness of educational games in some way?

Educational games are not too much worth without discussing (to provide feedback to the lead coach). This is an opportunity to verify what the participants have learned. I checked the effectiveness of the educational games through an evaluation survey, which included questions about whether a given participant increased the level of a given competency or whether it felt confident in their work by playing the game, etc. These are, of course, declarative statements, but important to me (along with the satisfaction of the client, or the payer). Personally, I never measured the ROI or other indicators regarding simulation games, but there is a series of studies that confirm that the use of games (or actually learning through experience) is effective in the process of teaching adults.

Did you create an educational game to order, which was to fulfill a specific task and had already a definite target, as then it looks like a way of matching the game mechanic, its theme'u?

The design of educational games in most cases looks the same. There is always a target defined by the client eg. The higher staff international his company or the example I specified. Project managers using cascading project management methodologies. A similar situation occurs for tasks that must be met during an educational game (see Response to educational objectives). Choosing the mechanics of games, narrative (storyline, graphics, etc.) is resultant many factors and should always be consulted with the client or the target group. With all this in mind, I cannot say that a theme such as Building a rover Martian and sending it on a mission to Mars will always fit in with the industry's employees. Sometimes they prefer to tear away and want to incorporate the role of warriors from fantasy books. Of course, certain elements of games eg. Mechanics, I use when designing new products, but I always go through the entire process from the beginning to the end. This way, my games are tailored to the needs of my clients.

And if you can tell me overall about the effectiveness of gamification and
How do people approach it?

Gamification is often confused with the use of simulation games outside the training room eg. In the recruitment process. And for game designers or system Designers gamification This difference is pretty well visible. As a result, my role is to educate customers in these differences. Gamification is a relatively young phenomenon in Poland, but it is a thriving development because it is a way to solve modern organization problems in an attractive way.

This is different in terms of effectiveness. Use only the most popular mechanisms gamification so called. PBL'su (Points, badges, Leaderboards) will not suddenly make every act of pleasure, eg. Call center employees. It is important to gamification stimulating the internal motivation, and not to reinforce the exterior under the guise of great fun. Gamification is not a technique of stick and carrot, it is a way to liberate the motivation, which will make you ourselves want to do what does not make us pleasure regardless or we will get reward for it.

Thanks great for the replies!

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