In the first part of my articles on serious games (published last year), I discussed the educational potential of learning through games and I tried to define the term “serious games “.
In 2009, the French government invested 30 million euros in the field of serious games . It’s 47 projects that were born directly from this initiative. We are even seeing the hiring of serious game designers at Bordas, a leading French textbook publisher . Gambling is therefore becoming increasingly important in the French education system.
And, at this moment, it is in Belgium that we find the essential website for the watch on serious games:
And in Quebec …
Even if Quebec is still far from this interest in serious gambling, we can still be proud of Quebec initiatives. Here is the company CREO ( Science in Game | Scienceenjeu ) which remains the spearhead in the field. The company mainly develops popular science games like Forestia , Rana and Physica . The last of their project, Mécanika , is a physics simulation game used to learn concepts from physics (inertia, centrifugal force, etc.).
I have a strong appreciation of this game: funny, simple and accessible, Mécanika allows you to get in touch with the basic concepts of physics. Of course, game design side, Mechanika is very similar to other physics games, but what makes its strength is in the details: narration, graphics and structure tables are very licked. Nothing surprising from the point of view of quality, the main designer, François Boucher-Genesse, having worked on Halo 3 and Halo Reach.
As the interest exists in Quebec, Mécanika was the subject of a topo on Discoveries , February 5 last. Although the topo never uses the expression “serious games”, but “puzzle games” … which is very strange.
Link to the topography of Découverte on Mécanika
Also … an academic interest in serious games in Quebec
Another sign of interest in serious games in Quebec, a research chair at Polytechnique exists in the field of serious games: Mati Montreal . I also had the chance to go to Emmanuel Mandart’s lecture as part of my work on Squad B. Master’s student in didactics, Mr. Mandart is interested in the impact of narrativity via the level design (design level) in learning. He is interested in analyzing the behavior of 200 high school students in their understanding of the game Mechanika with the Force Concept Inventory test .
And if Mr. Mandart taught me something that I will remember: it’s his way of explaining learning in serious games via the Lego model. It’s simple: learning can be done in a structured way or not, but what you have to strive for is to offer an open environment while guiding the player.
The idea of this poor design is very simple: more than a game offers a directive level design , more learning by the player is the one we expect. And in the case of serious games, it is often a recurring problem: we want to make specific learning and it is difficult to let the player go with great freedom. On the other hand, if we leave too much freedom, there is, in fact, the risk that learning is diffuse and confusing. A fair balance tends to offer some freedom in learning the player while being valued by a freedom.