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Video: Examining educational games through the lens of 'fun'

January 23, 2018 | By Emma Kidwell

January 23, 2018 | By Emma Kidwell
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Video games can be a fantastic learning tool, but there's a challenge when designing games that strive to be both educational and fun. But what is fun? GlassLab's Erin Hoffman learned this after presenting SimCity to a group of students.

"We put the game in front of kids all by themselves in a school setting and they said: 'well this is pretty fun but we're not learning anything,'" explains Hoffman. "It was really surprising that kids in that particular setting were hungry for learning."

In this 2015 GDC talk, Hoffman presents a new theory of "fun," by positing fun as shorthand for a very complex psychological process by which humans convert stress into satisfaction through insight. 

Hoffman describes the concept of "fun" in relation to learning, a concept which she calls 'sophia', which is what she's dubbed the 'game-learn' emotion. She breaks down games by emotions and explains how 'sophia' relates to each genre. 

Designers can now watch the talk completely free via the official GDC YouTube channel!

About the GDC Vault

In addition to this presentation, the GDC Vault and its accompanying YouTube channel offers numerous other free videos, audio recordings, and slides from many of the recent Game Developers Conference events, and the service offers even more members-only content for GDC Vault subscribers.

Those who purchased All Access passes to recent events like GDC or VRDC already have full access to GDC Vault, and interested parties can apply for the individual subscription via a GDC Vault subscription page. Group subscriptions are also available: game-related schools and development studios who sign up for GDC Vault Studio Subscriptions can receive access for their entire office or company by contacting staff via the GDC Vault group subscription page. Finally, current subscribers with access issues can contact GDC Vault technical support.

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