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Educational Games: The Big Picture Part I

In this podcast, game designer Sande Chen discusses the challenges of getting educational games adopted into schools.

[This article originally appeared on Game Design Aspect of the Month under the topic of Game-Based Learning.]

As I mentioned before, I've been reviewing research papers, interviewing educational game developers, and conducting a survey about educational game developers.  My goal was to see if the state of educational game development had changed in the last decade.  How were educational game developers faring?  Were the problems reported in our book, Serious Games: Games That Educate, Train, and Inform, still plaguing developers or had they been eradicated?

I could not be more pleased to announce that the first of five articles, "Is the School Market Still Just a Mirage?" has been published on Games and Learning.  When I first started on this endeavor, I was trying to think of which journalism outlets would be the best venue for this type of research.  I knew that I didn't want to have this work hidden in an academic journal.  I want you to read the articles, discuss them, tweet about them, and hopefully, together, we can make an impact.  If anything, I want people to know that there has been research on the effectiveness of games in education.  I heard repeatedly from people that there isn't proof of games aiding in learning outcomes, which simply told me that we need to see that research gets publicized.

In particular, check out the audio interview, which covers material not included in the article.



I was fortunate to have frank conversations with educational game developers, many of whom have been in the industry for over a decade.  I also talked to new entrants, who are just starting up their businesses.  I talked to digital and analog designers.  I read tons of research papers.  I fact-checked and looked up school budgets.  Then, I hoped I could coalesce all this information into something coherent.   There were times, just like when the book was written, I wished there was some reference material I could read but there just wasn't, because so much of the content was based on original sources.

I have written about business models before in Secrets of the Game BusinessIn the game industry, I get to use both my degrees from MIT: Comparative Media Studies/Writing and Economics.  I'm really happy that I got the chance to take this deep dive into the world of educational game development. 

Sande Chen is a writer and game designer whose work has spanned 10 years in the industry. Her credits include 1999 IGF winner Terminus, 2007 PC RPG of the Year The Witcher, and Wizard 101. She is one of the founding members of the IGDA Game Design SIG.

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