In today's main Gamasutra feature, it's pointed out that 'serious games', like every other tool of education, must be able to show that the necessary learning has occurred. Sande Chen and David Michael's article on the subject discusses how games that teach, from firefighting to business simulations, can demonstrate success.
This extract from the feature discusses the advantages of building games for educational purposes:
"Jim Brazell, consulting analyst at the Digital Media Collaboratory (DMC) in the ICē Institute at the University of Texas at Austin, talks about another type of assessment method that stems from video games. "I believe that the most serious game is the game of game construction," says Brazell, who advocates the use of game development itself as a learning tool.
His reasoning is that the only way a designer can make an effective game that simulates a particular phenomenon or teaches particular information is if the designer already understands the phenomenon or information. Further, the creation of such a game has the potential to lead to new knowledge and new ways to do things through emergent behavior. As the methods and tools of game development become more accessible, perhaps this new kind of "using games in education" could take its place alongside other serious games.
So, rather than only translating traditional testing methods like MCQs [multiple choice questions] into serious games, designers of serious games can also build on the methods that have worked in mainstream video games. That isn't to say that game designers already know everything there is to know about testing and other pedagogical methods. Nor are we saying that traditional testing methods have no place in a game environment. Instead, both game designers and educational professionals need to work together in developing serious games as a new teaching tool."
You can now read the full Gamasutra feature
on the subject, including more viewpoints and theses on how any idea of 'success' can be derived from serious games (no registration required, please feel free to link to the article from external websites).