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Possible To Be Too Engaging? December 8, 2006

Posted by Ben Craigo in Gaming and Simulation.
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There is an article in the New York Times today regarding the hazards of Nintendo’s new gaming console – the Wii (pronounced “We”).  It mentions that the interactivity this new console provides may have…

“…an unintended side effect: game controllers flying around living rooms and smashing into lamps, windows, televisions and foreheads.”


There’s even a web site that documents Wii owners’ accidents with the new remotes – WiiHaveAProblem.com.  I don’t doubt some of these have actually happened, but I would also take some of these with a bit of skepticism.

So this brings up a question – when are games, simulations and e-Learning too engaging?  I’m sure the answer to this questions for the Sony’s, Nintendos and Microsofts of the world is that it can never be too engaging (as long has you have a really, really strong wrist strap).  But for what’s called serious games, and more specifically what is created for organizations, there’s a limit.  What should that criteria be?

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Comments»

1. bobbegb - December 8, 2006

My answer is NO absolutly not…If you are TOO engaging then you are not on target…the interesting thing for me is most of this concept of learner engagement is based on Activity Theory….Jonassen Penn State…if you are TOO engaging then you have missed the mark….as SOOOOO many have…the idea is not to engage but to engage meaningfully!

2. Ben Craigo - December 8, 2006

Great perspective, Bobbe. It seems like you are saying that to make a fully immersive experience without tying it back to the learning makes a course moot. I completely agree.

3. Cynthia Huber, CTM - December 8, 2006

I also agree whole heartedly!! I know that even in a stand-up training situation, while it is important to be engaging, (animated, fun, and activity filled) the most important thing is the learning. I have gone to programs that have been “fun” but have been upset that I spent time and money but didn’t learn anything. Once it bothered me so much that I made the comment on the evaluation form and told the vendor that I would not return nor woud recommend the program. I don’t know if it made/will make a difference for that particular vendor, but I do believe it made me a better trainer to have that awareness first hand.

4. Marguerite Fallon - December 14, 2006

Yes, I think too much gaming and activity can cause the learner to forget what is being taught and remember the fun stuff. There are times you can be interactive but also be relevant to the topic. And when designing an e-learning session, the same can hold true for graphics and animation. Too much then learner will be distracted and the message will be lost. (or you can get dizzy) It can be a gray area and a fine line on how much to put in and keep out.

5. Ben Craigo - December 14, 2006

There’s definitely a common theme in the comments – putting bells and whistles into e-Learning just because they are available is a waste of everyone’s time. If it doesn’t engage the learner so that they are able to get more out of the course than if it were not there then it shouldn’t be there.

However, with the increased ubiquity of media everywhere we turn as well as the increasing expectations from technology of the Gen X and Millenial crowds there is a greater challenge to keep learners engaged. And this challenge will not be going away anytime soon.


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