Games vs Simulations

From my experience and observation, a lot people lately (the last two/three years or so) have been throwing the whole “gamification” and “simulation” terms around in the eLearning community. As some of you know, I have been into this sort of stuff for a bit longer than this (5+ years) so I would like to help some of those newbies out there, what these terms are and how to appropriately use them.

Game: The first thing that usually pops into someone’s mind when the word game is mentioned is some sort of activity that is not work related, is done by choice, is fun and entertaining and does not require any recall of the game play for future non game use. A person implementing a game as an intervention must immediately confront these perceptions by addressing the fact that a game is being used for something work related, there is no choice but to play, and that there is an expectation to remember and reflect upon the game play. The aspects of the game being fun and entertaining may still be the case, but just what ‘fun’ is and what ‘entertaining’ is requires some deeper analysis and redefining on the part of both the trainer and trainee. But essentially, both fun and entertainment are primary motivators that the trainer may use to increase the engagement and focus on the topic at hand. And that is for another day. But for those thirsty for more now, read Theory of Fun by Raph Koster or The Art of Game Design by Jesse Schell. Two awesome books. Both I use quite regularly as reference quite often.

Simulation/Sim: Okay, now, simulations are different because they are mainly used to create some what realistic models of people, places, and things. So, this makes it possible to use simulation strategies in a virtual mode to mirror more situations than could have been possible prior to this capability, and to even consider using virtual spaces to mirror interpersonal interactions and/or decision making. Like games, all cases of sims will be directed toward particular outcomes and will have certain aspects that are unique to a specific context. All will have varying degrees of the common characteristics and players will engage in interactions and activities similar to games. Outcomes are also one of the primary discriminators between Games and Simulations. True, fun and entertainment may be important outcomes of a game, but they are not a primary outcome of a simulation. For example, how a person plays or uses a simulation is more important than where they end up, since completion or winning is not one of the characteristics. Like anything, games and simulations can be very inexpensive to create or extremely expensive, depending on the complexity. I hope this quick guide helps all you newbies.

Published by theirishduck

I love the ability where I can plan, prioritise, design, develop and deliver blended learning solutions for a variety of markets. I love to consult and advise about the best use of digital learning and improve design standards in line with evolving ways of working. I also enjoy to keep up to date with, understand and regularly recommend emerging technologies and practice to improve individuals, teams and organisational capabilities. With over 12 years digital learning experience and demonstrated experience in both instructional design and eLearning development, I have also a lot of experience conducting training needs analysis including how to leverage principles such as design thinking and root cause analysis to understand and address performance gaps. I also have led many facilitation workshops and even presented at iDesignX and Game Developers Conferences both here in Australia, Wales and in the United States. I bring loads of coding experience in Java, ASM, C++, HTML, JavaScript, SCORM and xAPI, as well as proven capability using Adobe Captivate, Trivantis Lectora and Articulate Storyline 360 Studio authoring programs. Of course, Adobe Creative Cloud is also part of my toolbox which I also use daily. Being taught traditional and advanced 3D animation techniques, I love hand drawing and polymer clay sculpture, but can also use the Blender, 3D Studio Max, Maya and Softimage applications. With strong multimedia, training and programming backgrounds, I understand modern learner behaviour including micro and social learning, I am very familiar with most LMSes and app-based (XCode and Android Studio), adult learning models and e-solutions. I also possess the ability to manage multiple projects simultaneously, whilst being pro-active in delivering work independently with minimal supervision, but enjoy working in teams. I've been told I am a resilient, relationship focused guy which can manage and navigate conflicting views and stakeholders/subject matter experts.

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