Realising an Applied Gaming Eco-system

The high potential of games for learning and teaching is undisputed. For seizing this potential three persistent problems should be addressed.

First, the serious games industry displays many features of an emerging, immature branch of business, scattered over a large number of small independent players running their local shops and spending much of their time and resources at re-inventing the wheel.

Second most research into serious gaming is highly explorative, and at the same time weak in both theoretical foundation and in collecting sound empirical evidence. Many research groups develop their own game and their evaluations often report that the end-users – often their own students – appreciated the game. This comes close to researchers marking their own paper. Randomised controlled trials and validated evaluation methodologies are seldom used.

Third, little attention is paid to a serious game’s explicit pedagogical design. Most games deliberately avoid using mechanisms for learner guidance and instruction as to stay away from the (boring) teaching methods used in schools and classrooms. Instead, learning-by-doing is often referred to as the overarching pedagogical strategy of serious games. Unfortunately, learning-by-doing and minimal guidance strategies have been consistently found ineffective and inferior to strategies of guided instruction.

The RAGE project, which is the Europe’s principal Horizon-2020 research and innovation project on serious gaming, will address these issues. First, RAGE will launch a social platform along with a wide variety of knowledge resources, training materials and technology components as to create a single point of access for all stakeholders in serious gaming. Second, RAGE will carry out serious game validation studies and will provide an evaluation framework and the associated methods and tools for his. Finally, RAGE will make available a set of interoperable technology components that can be used by game developers to enhance the pedagogical quality of their games.

Wim Westera

The Open University of the Netherlands, Netherlands