Nope, I just don’t like to play games. For me, playing game is kind of wasting time.

Said one of the young people that I met at Al-Qomariyah, an orphanage based in Bandung, Indonesia. That answer is a typical answer when I ask the kids whether they would like to play game or not. Then soon after we introduce our game, Dawn of Civilization, the kids glued their eyes to it. At the end of my observation,  the same girl who complained, in the beginning, said: “Oh, I can pronounce ‘strategy’ correctly now.”

Our educational game app, Dawn of Civilization (DOC), contains various activities and learning contents that are systematically integrated to lead student’s intrinsic motivation. The gaming environment enables the students to enhance the learning experience which is usually unable to be obtained in a non-gaming learning environment.

As what Kapp (2012) proposed for the concept of game, “a system in which players engage in an abstract challenge, define by rules, interactivity, and feedback, that results in quantifiable outcome often eliciting an emotional reaction.” Building on the definition above, there are some elements of what constitutes an educational game:

  1.       System. It is concern as a space in a game where each part of the system will be integrated with other parts.
  2.       Players. A person who interacts with game content and trigger a cause of the changing game environment.
  3.       Abstract. Game often mimics the reality but it is not precisely duplicate the reality.
  4.       Challenge. Games provide a certain level of difficulty. It should be not under the players’ ability so the player will not easily be boring, but it’s shouldn’t be extremely hard that the player cannot be deal with it.
  5.       Rules. It is a construction of the game including to define the winning state and also the losing state.
  6.       Interactivity. Player interacts with the system, content that presented or with another player instead.
  7.       Feedback. An instant, direct and clear feedback usually provided for the players.
  8.       Quantifiable outcome. Score, level, or winning state define clearly certain outcome for the player.
  9.       Emotional reaction. Involve emotional victorious winning state or a little dose frustration of defeated state. Exhilarating, anger, and sadness can be part of game too because a game is not only human interaction but also intertwined with various emotional event.

All of the game element that listed above should be embedded in proper ways when it comes to designing an educational game, a game that has certain learning goals to be aligned with. And it will become more complex when we argued that one instructional design cannot cater all the needs, no one learning solution fits every student’s need.

That thought process is the perks of being a learning designer, to gradually develop your capacity for the responsible game design which enables the student to experience great learning journey through a combination of learning mechanics and game mechanics. Behind the intuitive and easy-to-use educational game that align with the learning objective, it usually involves a complex process yet complicated design to simplify users interaction with it (Kapp, K. M., Blair, L., & Mesch, R., 2014).

Kapp, K. (2012). The Gamification of Learning and Instruction. San Francisco: Pfeiffer.
Kapp, K. M., Blair, L., & Mesch, R. (2014). The Gamification of Learning and Instruction Fieldbook. San Francisco: Wiley.

Author: Endah Nursalehah

Solve Education! (SE!) is a non-profit which provides access to quality education and employment through gamification and artificial intelligence on our platform for the youths in emerging markets. There are currently 20,000+ youths (aged 15-24) in emerging economies on the platform today who are actively learning through creations including Dawn of Civilization, Learnalytics and Solve Employment.

SE! is excited to launch a campaign to provide ‘English Skills for 10,000 Indonesian Youths’ with GlobalGiving, a global crowdfunding platform, where every dollar donated will get matched by GlobalGiving over the next 8 days. SE! sees that millions of youth in Indonesia are underserved and often do not have access to quality education. Donations will be used to roll out an English program for 10,000 youths in Indonesia. Please join us to support education for the youth in Indonesia.

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