Course Outcomes

This activity and game design workshop will:

  • Outline how games can add life to training and impact what students retain.
  • Help participants determine what games to use and when.
  • Explain the game creation process and prepare participants to develop their own games.
  • Suggest options for repurposing existing games.
  • Discuss strategies for deploying games in the classroom.

Course Overview

Let go of my LEGO®!  Models, toys, games, and other tools for engaging learners can have an enormous influence on the success of a training session. Well-executed games and exercises can focus participants, facilitate social interactions, reinforce the practical application of new skills, and energize a group.  This course covers the essentials of using games and game-like activities in the classroom.  During this interactive program, participants will learn when (and when not) to use games; tactics for aligning activities to learning objectives; a game designer’s vocabulary; how to modify, build, and evaluate games; and strategies for launching games in the classroom.

Program Objectives

At this program’s conclusion, participants should be able to:

  • Explain when, why, and how to use games, game-like activities, and gamification in training.
  • Identify a game’s goals.
  • Describe various games and their structures.
  • Recognize and use a game designer’s vocabulary.
  • Create game-like activities and basic games.
  • Repurpose existing games for the classroom.
  • Ask good questions during the design process.
  • Evaluate a game.
  • Successfully use games to support learning objectives.

The following outline highlights some of the course’s key learning points. As part of your training program, we will modify content as needed to meet your business objectives. Upon request, we will provide you with a copy of the participant materials prior to the session(s).

Workshop Outline

Follow the Rules: Guidelines for Using Games in Training

“A lot of fun but a waste of my time.” “Very uncomfortable.” “What are we, five?” Danger! Games are great when their use is skillfully executed.  When not, the credibility of a course and its facilitator are at risk. This game design workshop starts with a frank discussion about games in training and how they can help or hinder the learning process. In this module, we will also consider the importance of considering relevance, risk, and timing when choosing or developing a game.

Game Goals: Where Do I Want to Go

Games for the sake of activity are a bad idea.  Likewise, using games when a shorter or easier activity can get the job done is usually not a good move.  This training module looks at the purpose of games and examples of games used to teach a variety of job-related skills.   This section of the program also introduces the concept of gamification and game-like activities: two options that can make learning engaging without using a full-blown game.

Games People Play: Understanding Common Structures

The next part of the course examines game varieties. We will look at board games, card games, coordination games, dice games, tile games, pencil and paper games, role-playing games, knowledge games, games of chance, simulations, and team-building activities.  During this exercise, we will explore the elements the games share and the components that differentiate them.  We will also discuss the time and skill typically required to complete each activity and the strengths and challenges various options present. 

The Elements of Play: Examining a Game’s Ingredients 

This module introduces gaming vocabulary: game goals, game rules, mechanics of play, and manipulatives. We will focus on several popular games to explore each concept, and we will discuss how altering one or two of a game’s elements can change how we play, how we feel during play, and how challenging or enjoyable we ultimately believe a game to be.

Pie, Points, and Property: The Purpose of Play

The next part of the program examines the difference between a teaching game and a game constructed mainly for enjoyment.  During this seminar segment, we’ll explore the process of marrying instructional objectives with a game’s goals.  We will also discuss the common mistakes many new games designers make.  Next, we will create several game-like activities to meet various learning goals.

Making Choices: Questions Good Designers Ask

Despite the fun and spontaneity often associated with the end product, good game design is rarely haphazard. It’s usually methodical work.  Skilled designers work with a plan and ask great questions throughout the process.  In this part of the workshop, we will look at a series of questions that can help designers think critically about their goals, narratives (if there are any), design elements, and the process of moving from idea to finished product.

Finding Inspiration: Repurposing Existing Materials

There are two roads to Uncle Jesse’s Farm and you’re in a wild race to get there first! The Dirt Road is safe but slow – the Highway is fast but loaded with trouble. Switching roads, setting up roadblocks, and bumping other cars off the road are all part of the action. Choose your “wheels” and hit the road to Hazzard County! 

In the 1970s licensing reached new heights, in addition to lunchboxes and other placements, the characters from popular TV shows found themselves starring in board games, card games, role-playing games, or all three. Bo and Luke Duke; Sabrina, Kelly, and Kris; and the entire Ingalls family are among the many characters who entertained scores of children in off-screen adventures.  

Were these games fun? Maybe. Maybe not.  But ask anyone who played them, and most people will tell you that made-from-television games had one thing in common.  They all seemed eerily familiar, and why was that? The answer is both predictable and practical.  The designers who built these show-inspired amusements usually didn’t start from scratch. They typically took a concept that worked somewhere else and modified it. While some chose better structures than others, it is fair to say that these people were on to something.  

Rarely did it make sense to completely reinvent the wheel. In many instances, the same holds true today.  This is certainly the case for part-time designers who are developing learning games.  In this portion of the course, we will look at popular game formats and how to alter them for the classroom.  

Game Over: Evaluating Games

Ugly and painful as it may be, eventually games will be judged. For that reason, it makes sense to pull a game apart before it goes live. During this segment, we’ll look at playtesting and evaluation.  Participants will rate each other’s games based on several criteria: learning, fun, the time/value ratio, inclusiveness, difficulty, and clarity of instruction.  

Rolling the Dice in the Real World: When Bad Games Happen to Good People

Once a game is developed and tested, the goal of most designers is to deploy their creations in the classroom. This final part of the program looks at the ins and outs of gameplay in training.  How do you set up a game? How do you encourage buy-in? What do you do when people don’t follow the rules? What if the end result produces something unexpected? During this module, participants will consider those questions and others.

By the conclusion of this interactive workshop, participants should know how to use games, game-like activities, and gamification in their programs.