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Lesson 11: Track A Summaries

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Schedule   ::   Lesson 11   ::   Track A Summaries   ::   Track B Summaries

Frasca, G.; Simulation versus narrative: Introduction to ludology

Reading summary/quotes:

Simulations and narratives, while sharing some aspects, are also inherently very different. Narratives are fixed sequences of events with fixed outcomes, whereas simulations are dynamic and ever changing. Participants in a simulation are in a sense given some authorship of the outcome, whereas narrative authors or “narauthors” determine outcomes before readers ever read the story.

Video games have been considered “extensions of drama and narrative”, although the author argues games are more than just narrative (p. 221)

Traditional storytelling and authoring has a fixed amount of outcomes, i.e. the story can only end in a certain way, and readers are not able to dynamically change the outcome of the story. The story is a fixed sequence of events. (p. 226)

Simauthors can model their simulations in such a way that it emphasizes their own viewpoint or belief about the subject matter, more so then narauthors (p. 228)

Narauthors have ultimate power over what happens in their stories. In contrast, simauthors give up some of that control. They create the ground rules, and then the players work within those rules in many ways to create different outcomes (p. 229)

Related articles/class discussions:

  • (Article) Instructional Designers Take All the Fun Out of Games: Rethinking Elements of Engagement for Designing Instructional Games.
  • (Article) Games and Simulations in Action
  • Effects of video games

Discussion points/questions:

  • What about video games remains as an unexplored research question?
  • How can traditional narratives be made into simulations? Would this be a good idea?
  • How can we as simulation designers help people become more comfortable with the idea of simulations?


Shelton, B., Wiley, D.; Instructional Designers Take All the Fun Out of Games: Rethinking Elements of Engagement for Designing Instructional Games.

Reading summary/quotes:

Games traditionally have been much more engaging than classroom instruction. By adding elements of instructional design theory couched in the context of a dramatic concept, instructional games can teach but still provide greater engagement. Challenge, proclivity, and uncertainty are three conditions that aid in engagement.

Some attempts at making instructional games more engaging have failed because the designers can’t break certain mindsets, like explicitly stating objectives (p. 1).

Assessment can be achieved by adding elements of uncertainty into the game and observing how the player responds, rather than having a rigid post-test activity after each round of gaming (p. 4).

A problem with instructional games design is when the learning objectives are explicit. The problem with this is that if the objects are right out in the open the player may be pulled away from proclivity aspects of the game. This can cause them to not want to play.

Related articles/class discussions:

  • Chapter 2: Why do people play games?
  • Stories for Eye, Ear, and Muscled: Video games, media, and embodies experiences.
  • Play it Again, Pac Man

Discussion points/questions:

  • Is assessment through uncertainty as effective as traditional multiple choice testing, or more so? Why?
  • What are some other examples of instructional strategies that can be embedded in a dramatic context?
  • What else takes away from proclivity?
  • How do we add assessment tools in our game without taking away from the game and distract the player.
Contributors: Tom Caswell, Marion Jensen, Jennifer Jorgensen, Jon Scoresby, and Tim Stowell
Copyright 2008, by the Contributing Authors. Cite/attribute Resource . admin. (2008, May 20). Lesson 11: Track A Summaries. Retrieved January 07, 2011, from Free Online Course Materials — USU OpenCourseWare Web site: This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License Creative Commons License
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