Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Wednesday fun: games for a work break, or for research

For your mid-week hump day, here are some games to play at work. (Thanks for this link, Boing Boing.) Try them out just for fun, or to get some ideas for simple e-learning games that will keep people engaged.

I haven't played them all (I do occasionally try to get some work done around here), but one of my favorites is the very simple yet very addictive paper toss from BBC Learning. I actually wrote about this game way back at the beginning of this blog. I was thinking more about it as I was playing yesterday, pondering what made it so addictive and whether that principle could be something e-learning could copy.

I think there are several things. The simplicity is important; users don't have to try hard to figure out the rules or how to play. In fact, the instructions are summed up in one sentence that is listed briefly on the main screen. Also, there's the element of competition--both with yourself and others. I don't think the game would be nearly as fun if it didn't include the listings of your score, your personal best, and the global best. (I think this last one is a new addition.) I keep playing because I want to beat my personal best--if I ever got good enough, I'd keep playing to beat the global best.

The BBC game is an example of a simple game done right. The unstoppable filing game is another example of a game used as advertisement, but it's not done as well. The game is simple, yes, but repetitive and it doesn't challenge you enough.

So go ahead, test out all of those games and tell your boss you're doing research for your next e-learning project. See what you like and don't like about each one, and think about what techniques or aspects you can steal for an e-learning game or training advertisement.

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