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The virtue of failure: designing games you can’t win for learning

Ruggiero, D and Becker, K (2014) The virtue of failure: designing games you can’t win for learning. In: CNIE 2014: Confluences - Spaces, Places & Cultures for Innovative Learning, 13 -16 May 2014, Kamloops, BC, USA.

Abstract

Just what do we learn from playing serious games? Especially common in games for learning is the notion that participants need to be able to win the game, but is it always necessary for the player to win in order to ‘get’ our message? In his studies of productive failure, Kapur (2008) has suggested that failure can be important to learning. Indeed, when we think back on our most memorable learning experiences we often find that these lessons are things learned through failure rather than success. Learning through failure is an effective way to help people learn how to cope with situations where there is no clear solution (Dorner, et al., 1990), and for certain kinds of messages negative messages delivered via games you can’t win may be more powerful than those you can. This presentation explores a class of games where ‘winning’ doesn’t look the way we expect it to look. Some games don’t allow players to win at all, in which case the ‘message’ is effectively a cautionary tale. The authors refer to these games as “games you can’t win”, and they form a distinctly different approach to game design (examples include: Sweatshop, Darfur is Dying, and September 12th). This presentation will examine the philosophical background of games in education, the design of serious games, and look at both accidental and deliberately designed unwinnable games and how this relates to learning objectives.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Divisions: Institute for Education
Date Deposited: 01 Feb 2016 16:54
Last Modified: 01 Feb 2016 16:54
URI: http://researchspace.bathspa.ac.uk/id/eprint/7175
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