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Serious Games: synergy of education & entertainment

Serious Games have become one of the hot topics in the field of educational technology. Serious Games are mostly video games that have been specially designed for educational, training or information purposes. Why? Because of the relationship between play and dopamine.


When we are playing, we release dopamine. It has been widely documented that the release of dopamine makes it possible to retain knowledge and open the mind to discovery. It is essentially a predisposition of the brain towards learning. For this reason, he considers that it is necessary for education to turn entertainment into learning. More and more people are saying that good teachers not only have to know about their field, but also need to know how to communicate, persuade, and inform.


Benefits of serious games in education: enhancing social learning and motivation

For this reason, several authors have identified various benefits of Serious Games. In particular, they stress that they enable social learning through the observation of others and the replication of types of behaviour, which is a precondition of constructivist learning. They also allow experimentation and the acquisition of new roles, making it possible to understand situations and phenomena. And, in addition, they help to boost the player's interest in – and so motivation towards – the learning content.


This type of digital art has only been around for a few years. So it is no surprise that its rise is generating more uncertainties than clarifications currently. We are talking about the first generation of parents who are having to manage the education of their children in the context of the freedom and exploration that many video games open up. A generational asymmetry (fathers and mothers have not played them), which, when doubt arises, rapidly leads to uncertainty. It's hard to think of a video game outside the sports world being a Christmas present, for example. This probably has a lot to do with the general lack of knowledge about the role of video games in learning.


In this context, motivational design is key. That is, in understanding that our role in education is critical enough for us to take seriously the design of motivating learning experiences. And for this, there are three elements that we should focus on: (1) Educational transfer (transferring content and knowledge to the student); (2) Motivation (context, purpose, etc.); (3) Behavioural change (provoking in the receiver the desired change that ultimately secures the knowledge gained).


Education and entertainment in synergy: the ENTI and EUNEIZ model

These elements are fundamental to both ENTI and EUNEIZ. It is a model in itself: a way of educating in which entertainment coincides with learning to provide a more satisfying educational experience to the participant. So is it up to the educator to change their approach? Do we as educators need to acquire new skills? Óscar thinks we do. Educating and entertaining are two activities that, to achieve synergy, must flow from the educator’s own action. And for this, the educator must be provided with resources.


The methodology must change not only in terms of the design of the teaching activity itself, but also in terms of content. The channel itself configures the content. Each audience has their preferred content. And each content has different educational purposes. When is it better to use a PowerPoint, and when is it better to use a concept map or a short video? There is much empirical evidence on the need to compare these types of content to facilitate learning. However, this is still a topic that is largely absent from standard educational debates.


The educator's role: embracing digital competence, empathy, and courage

So Óscar sums up in three main components what an educator needs to have in this world of education and entertainment: digital competence, empathy and courage. This last attribute is a way of highlighting the need to change things. Empathy? A way to understand who our audience is, how they behave, and what they need.


Asked about the educational fields in which he considers there to be the greatest opportunities for new training, Óscar's answer is Transmedia. Transmedia storytelling is a type of content storytelling where the story unfolds across multiple media. Some consumers take an active role in this expansion process, so that participation is effective. In short, a new way of configuring the combination of methodologies, protagonists and contents, which is precisely what we are talking about in this article.


His final recommendation is: the Good Gamer. This is an initiative that was created to vindicate the positive values of video games. As we said before, we are still the first generation to experience the emergence of video games in society. A generation that has yet to grasp that yes, they can be serious; and yes, they can help us shape our students.