A Specialist Explains

Creating a Really Good Learning Game

Dr Ahmed MorsyDammam (SA), November 2018 - Dr Ahmed Morsy holds a PhD in Instructional Technology and works as an associate professor at Imam Abdulrahman Bin Faisal University, Academic Development and Initiatives department. He previously worked as an e-content development manager at the eLearning Competence Center, Egyptian Ministry of Communication and Information Technology for thirteen years and as a consultant for many UNESCO projects. Ahmed will speak about “How to Design an Engaging Educational Game“ at the session "Game-based Learning: Across the Breadth of the Use Spectrum" on Friday, 07 December from 16:15 to 17:15.

You’ve received several awards as a specialist in learning games and a developer. What’s the secret to creating a really good learning game?

Dr Ahmad Morsy: The most important factor behind creating successful learning games is to maintain the engagement and motivation aspects alongside the educational aspects. This requires you to carefully build a rewarding structure that is meaningful, creates fun, and supports the learning activities.

In addition, it is necessary to adopt a holistic approach while designing and developing educational games. In other words, there are lots of aspects that educational game designers should consider from day one beside the pedagogical aspects, such as gamification mechanics, usability standards, and technology. Sometimes, they might also consider a feasible business model to help them achieve the optimum success and sustainability for their games.

One of the best ways that helps you align the above-mentioned domains together and create effective educational games easily is to start by developing a simple prototype and let it go into a loop of development iterations in light of the feedback received from your target audience. This process will help you easily find the most proper recipe that makes your game achieve the intended learning outcomes, engage learners, and motivate them to learn.

What role do VR, AR, and MR play in the process today?

Dr Ahmad Morsy: Recently, VR, AR, and MR are moving forward rapidly due to the abundance of affordable tools that allow teachers to employ them easily in classrooms and to create an amazing learning experience for their students.  Therefore, it is expected that these technologies will be used extensively during the upcoming couple of years by teachers and educational institutions, who are stimulated by the continuous cost reductions for both tools and development technologies.

Is there a difference between the way learning games are used in the Arab World and how they’re used in Europe or the USA?

Dr Ahmad Morsy: I guess there are no significant differences in the way that learners in the Arab World and Europe or the US use educational games. One of the reasons for this is that most Arab learners are already using foreign games due to the scarcity of effective local ones. Also, many of the educational systems in the Arab region have adopted US or EU curriculua.

What are the preferred target groups for the games you’ve developed and for learning games in general?

Dr Ahmad Morsy: I prefer to focus on Arabic-speaking children, as there is a scarcity of Arabic-language games that target this age group. I like also to work on language games that improve reading and writing skills. In the Arab world, there are more than 100 million people with no or limited reading and writing skills, and this definitely hinders the development endeavors in our region. Proficiency in reading and other language skills in one’s native language has a great impact on children's academic performance and for developing their higher mental skills such as creativity and critical thinking.

Besides, I strongly believe that there is great investment opportunity in the field of localizing and developing educational games that target Arab children.