I stumbled across an interesting paper linked to in a post by Karl Kapp. The paper describes a Professor of Reading’s teachers experience and learning from playing digital games and describes some of the learning principles good games incorporate.
Two that he describes I found particularly interesting, the first about Interaction, where he mentions “Games do talk back. In fact, nothing happens until a player acts and makes decisions. Then the game reacts back, giving the player feedback and new problems.” This is markedly different from the type of discrete feedback that’s present in conventional eLearning interaction. The observation that games give the players new problems is particularly cogent; eLearning interactions don’t change the environment itself based on player actions, games constantly do. Second, when he writes about risk taking as a part of game-play – “Players are thereby encouraged to take risks, explore, and try new things. In fact, in a game, failure is a good thing.” This is again a marked contrast to the types of environment/interaction typically found in conventional eLearning. I am yet to come across conventional eLearning which rewards failure, or makes it easy to accept failure as a part of the learning environment. Games seem to do exceedingly well at both.
You can find more interesting information in the paper itself, check it out.