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Lesson 3: Track B Summaries

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Schedule   ::   Lesson 3   ::   Track A Summaries   ::   Track B Summaries   ::   Both Tracks Summaries

Koster, R., Chapter 3: What games are

Reading summary/quotes:

Koster attempts to describe what games are. He says that learning is fun. Boredom occurs when you stop learning. It may be that the person is frustrated because the game is too hard, or too bored because the game is too easy, but either way, they have stopped learning, so the game is no longer “fun.” Fun can be created by learning or mastering a new pattern.

“Games are puzzles to solve, just like everything else in life. They are on the same order ass learning to drive a car, or picking up the mandolin, or learning your multiplication tables. We learn underlying patterns, grok them fully, and file them away so that they can be rerun as needed (p. 34).”

“The only difference with games and reality is that the stakes are lower with games (p. 34).”

“Games... are concentrated chunks ready for our brains to chew on (p. 36).”

“All these things (games, toys, play, sport, make-believe) are the same at the most fundamental level (p. 36).”

“I codified representations of human experience that we can practice with and learn patterns from (p. 36).”

“As we learn more patterns, more novelty is needed to make a game attractive (p. 38).”

“Fun is all about our brains feeling good – the release of endorphins into our system (p. 40).”

“One of the subtlest releases of chemicals is at that moment of triumph when we learn something or master a task. This almost always causes us to break out into a smile. After all, it is important to the survival of the species that we learn – therefore our bodies reward us for it with moments of pleasure (p. 40).”

“With games, learning is the drug (p. 40).”

“…we shouldn’t underestimate the brain’s desire to learn (p. 42).”

List of ways boredom can sneak in (p. 44).

“That’s what games are in the end. Teachers. Fun is just another word for learning (p. 46).”

“One wonders, then, why learning is so damn boring to so many people. It’s almost certainly because the method of transmission is wrong (p. 46).”

Related articles/class discussions:

  • Class discussion: Simulation vs. game

Discussion points/questions:

  • Why do so many people dislike learning?
  • How can educators make learning fun again?
  • Should they be expected to?


Aldrich, C., Chapter 8: The three essential elements to successful educational experiences: Simulations, games, and pedagogy.

Reading summary/quotes:

Educational simulations should include elements of simulations, games, and pedagogy in order to be most effective. Simulations mimic real world, games provide the enjoyable factor, and pedagogy ensures ties to the learning objectives.

“The two (simulations and games) seem inextricably linked. And for good reasons.... Many educational philosophers have become tied up in the Gideon knot of what is a games versus what is a simulation, and how the two differ. I have been sucked into some of those conversations myself, and always hated myself in the morning for it. Here’s a better way. Rather than thinking about games and simulations, it is more productive to think about the distinct elements… (p. 80).”

“Ultimately the careful use of all three will result in the appropriate educational experience (p. 80).”

“Simulation elements selectively represent objects ir situations, and selectively represent user interaction. Simulation elements enable discovery, experimentation, role modeling, practice, and active construction of systems, cyclical, and linear content. Which means they enable a transferability to the real world (p. 81)”

“Simulations do not have to be interactive (p. 83).”

Will Thalheimer: “The first thing that makes simulations work is context alignment. The performance situation is similar to the learning situation (p. 84).”

“Game elements provide familiar and entertaining interactions.” Increase enjoyment, drive more time spent with the experience, increase learning (p. 85).

Game elements: mixed scales, list on p. 86, 87.

“There is also a chance that during game sequences, they actually learn more than first assumed, as they are given permission to forget the rules and try new approaches (p. 88).”

Good part: make you smile and want to keep going. Bad part: seem unprofessional, distracting, unwelcome intrusion, lame. “That is the balancing act that all game elements must walk (p. 88).”

Pedagogical elements: background material, scaffolding, diagnostic capabilities, intros with tips, visualizations of relationships, debriefing, forced moments of reflection, pause, speed control, replay, examples of successful plays, chat rooms, tests, mnemonic devices, coaching, promptings (p. 89-90).

“In some cases, the pedagogical elements to support a simulation are identical to the pedagogical elements to support a real-world engagement (p. 90).”

“Universal truths provide substantiation to pioneers who believe games are inherently educational (p. 93).”

Related articles/class discussions:

Discussion points/questions:

  • What is a simulation? Does it have to be interactive?
  • Interesting ideas about the universal truths.

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 3: Track B 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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