Designing educational games without understanding one’s context is like designing a vehicle where you don’t know if it’s going to move on land, sea or air!
In the continuous and fierce discussion about the value and impact of games in educational games, educators and designers tend to forget the most important aspect of educational game design: their context.
We design educational games for specific audiences, aiming at helping them learn or develop a particular skill set. Not all players are the same: they do not learn in the same way, they do not learn in the same pace, they don’t have the same access to resources and they don’t have the same cultural or historic backgrounds. In this regard, it’s important to have in mind that learning is an individual process, relying a lot on how particular players perceive the world around them.
All those aspects define one’s learning context. In other words, the context defines the situation (and hence, partly, the learning needs and objectives) around which educational game designers are asked to design their games.
Designing educational games without understanding one’s context is like designing a vehicle where you don’t know if it’s going to move on land, sea or air! Context describes any cultural, historical, technical, logistical or living aspect related to the space and people that are involved in the game playing process. Context gives meaning to players’ actions. Historic figures, landmarks, events can be viewed from very different perspectives depending on the context of different cultures, countries and civilizations.