Wednesday, May 14 • 10:15am - 11:15am
The Virtue of Failure: Designing Games You Can’t Win for Learning

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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 and the design of serious games, and it will look at both accidental and deliberately designed unwinnable games and how this relates to learning objectives.

Of Interest to: Online and distance education, Post-secondary education, K-12 educators, Instructional designers

avatar for Katrin Becker

Katrin Becker

Adjunct Professor, Computer Science and Information Systems, Mount Royal University
avatar for Dana Ruggiero

Dana Ruggiero

Senior Lecturer Learning Technology, Bath Spa University

Wednesday May 14, 2014 10:15am - 11:15am PDT
International Building, IB 2004 900 McGill Road, Kamloops, BC, Canada V2C 0C8

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