Active Play – ocTEL

Lost in the City

Have found a little time this week to look at ocTEL.

Over recent decades, game-based learning has grown as a form of TEL. It encapsulates many principles of active learning, such as engagement in an authentic context, learning by mistake-making and reflection, experiential learning, collaborative learning and learning by problem-solving. As such, it is worth considering the techniques that games use to engage learners and what can be learned from them. Four game genres with obvious learning potential are adventure games, puzzle games, role playing games and strategy games.

Playing “Lost in the City” reminded me of how much I hate these kinds of adventure games and how frustrating I find them. Now I did give it a fair go and spent over 15 minutes playing the game, of which the majority of time was spent trying to find a single small object on the screen. This was very un-engaging and very demotivating.

Personally I don’t think I could learn anything from this specific game. I also think the frustrations acted as a disincentive to learning.

This is not an “adventure” game, this is a game with puzzles that appears to be an adventure, but isn’t. These are not even “useful” puzzles as far as I am concerned, they are logic puzzles that have to be solved in a particular way or in a specific order, the “challenge” is to find that order out to solve it. The problem with this is that there is no real logic to the process and it’s much more trial and error then actual logic. Also with only one specific solution, you can’t be creative or find alternative ways of solving the problem. This does not reflect the real world.

The other aspect is that too often you spend a long time trying to find (as in the case of “Lost in the City”) that final key, that elusive number. This is not learning, unless you’re learning to be patient! It’s merely frustrating and annoying, as far as I am concerned it’s not even a game.

For me a true adventure game should allow for freedom and flexibility. Then it can be more of a learning experience.

I can see how some people may “enjoy” this kind of game, but also can see how some people think such games “could” be used to teach subjects like Health & Safety, as in spot the danger. However such games would annoy many learners for the reasons I outlined above, and therefore could be a choice, but allow other ways of learning.

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