The most recent presentations are listed first.

[P] Presentation Ruggiero, D. & Becker, K. (2014) The Virtue of Failure: Designing Games You Can’t Win for Learning, CNIE 2014 Confluences: Spaces, Places & Cultures for Innovative Learning, Kamloops, BC, May 13-16, 2014 Canadian Network for Innovation In Education (CNIE)

Just what do we learn from playing serious games?

Especially common in games for learning is the notion that participants need to be able to win the game, but is it always necessary for the player to win in order to ‘get’ our message? In his studies of productive failure, Kapur (2008) has suggested that failure can be important to learning. Indeed, when we think back on our most memorable learning experiences we often find that these lessons are things learned through failure rather than success. Learning through failure is an effective way to help people learn how to cope with situations where there is no clear solution (Dorner, et al., 1990), and for certain kinds of messages negative messages delivered via games you can’t win may be more powerful than those you can.

This presentation explores a class of games where ‘winning’ doesn’t look the way we expect it to look. Some games don’t allow players to win at all, in which case the ‘message’ is effectively a cautionary tale. The authors refer to these games as “games you can’t win”, and they form a distinctly different approach to game design (examples include: Sweatshop, Darfur is Dying, and September 12th). This presentation will examine the philosophical background of games in education, the design of serious games, and look at both accidental and deliberately designed unwinnable games and how this relates to learning objectives.

May 2012

Presented at CNIE, 2012, Canmore AB, May 2012

This is a concept I devised some years ago. It provides a name for a very common phenomenon: the mistaken belief that something that looks good IS good. Educators fall into this trap ALL THE TIME when looking at online media but especially digital games.

It is also a BIG problem for organizations that fund the design and development of serious games - often times, they never bother to look beyond the still images.

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  • Last modified: 2018/10/24 15:54
  • by becker