An important reason for building simulated worlds is to learn, particularly in situations where learning is dangerous or where teaching is prohibitively expensive. Learning to fly is both very expensive and life-threatening, which is why simulators for flying are well-developed. Learning to fight a fire, handle a natural disaster, combat terrorism or wage war is not only expensive and life-threatening, but also very complex. Learning within a realistic gaming environment, even for complex tasks and for distributed teams, is now coming within the realm of possibilities.
From a training point of view, simulated training scenarios have to be presented such that the trainee obtains the desired training objectives. Training scenarios represent the context, or the “story”, in which the trainee participates, including goals for the trainee (terminate fire), events (collapsing building), environmental conditions (smoke, traffic, noise), and behavior of other participants (computer-generated agents such as: victims, other workers, teammates, managers, audience, etc.). Adequate training scenarios emerge from the training goals and needs of individual trainees. Training according to this view is conceptualized as scenario-based-training and requires, for example, the analysis of mission-essential competencies, adaptive and flexible training scenario management, instruction by virtual instructors, and adequate performance evaluation.
Gaming is often experienced as fun, and thus may be a vehicle to self-driven and highly motivated learning. Learning through game-play will combine formal and informal learning opportunities independent of time and place. Learning through game-play is two-sided: We can learn from playing the game, but the development of games in a certain domain will in itself be a learning experience, in which insight will be gained into the concepts and underlying relationships in that domain.
The GATE theme “Learning with Simulated Worlds” has been divided into four work packages:
The current generation of game software usually contains fixed scenarios or simple rules to determine the course of the game.
The aim of this interdisciplinary (conceptual, media-theoretical, and qualitative-empirical) research program is to investigate to what extent and in what way game design can be called upon to improve the learning results of entertainment and serious games.
This work package will empirically validate a number of cognitive principles that are important for learning in a (serious) gaming environment.
The present research project concerns transfer of training of serious games, i.e., games that educate, train and inform.