7 Tips To Develop Serious Games For Non-Designers

How To Develop Serious Games For Non-Designers

Producing a high quality serious game ranks right up there with flying a plane and performing brain surgery for many eLearning professionals. It seems completely implausible that someone with no prior game design experience would be able to create a complex, interactive, and immersive gaming environment, right? Fortunately, there are tools, tips and tricks that can help you integrate serious games for your online learners. So, get ready to add "top notch game designer" to your list of eLearning credentials.

1. Goal Setting Comes First.

It's easy to get caught up in the aesthetic aspects of your game, or even the storytelling and eLearning character creation. However, before you dive into all of the more fun and exciting aspects of serious game design, you have to figure out WHY you're designing it in the first place. In other words, what are your goals and objectives? What do you need your online learners to know and how are you going to convey the information? Are there any performance gaps that you need to fill? Are your online learners lacking key skills? Is there a problem with their task proficiency? Answering all of these questions will help you identify the primary purpose of your serious game and meet the needs of your audience.

2. Pick The Right eLearning Authoring Tools.

An idea is just an idea until you find the right tool for the job. In this case, it's a serious game eLearning authoring tool, or several, that features eLearning interactions, templates, and themes that can simplify the gamification process. Ideally, you should look for an eLearning authoring tool that offers a great asset library and responsive design. Media libraries can include everything from images and cutouts to animations. You can use all of these online resources to create an immersive serious game by simply dragging and dropping the objects into your layout. Responsive design gives you the chance to offer your serious game on virtually any eLearning platform, including mobile phones and tablets. The eLearning platform will adjust every element on the page to fit the screen size and resolution of the device.

3. Focus On eLearning Character Development.

eLearning characters are the lifeblood of your serious game. They are the fictional people who are going to connect with your online learners on a deeper level. As such, it's important that you develop your eLearning characters as much as possible and give them memorable personalities and traits. This is particularly the case for your main eLearning characters, such as your protagonist and antagonist. You want your online learners to despise the main villain in your eLearning game, so much that it fuels them to surmount obstacles and claim victory. That being said, you shouldn't include an elaborate backstory for every persona in your story, as this can lead to online learner overwhelm.

4. Identify The Ideal Game Mechanics.

Game mechanics provide structure for your serious game. They are the rules and guidelines that online learners must follow, as well as the actions that they must undertake. Mechanics may also consist of incentives or rewards, such as badges that unlock new content or leaderboards that fuel their learning motivation. All of these elements should be planned in advance so that you can build your storyline around them. In addition, the general framework of your game must be determined beforehand, such as whether it will consist of a branching scenario or an eLearning simulation.

5. Embed Third-Party Resources To Increase Serious Game Interactivity.

What do you do if you want to increase online learner engagement and immersion, but you don't have the time or resources to develop additional eLearning content? Embedding third-party resources is a great way to enhance the quality of your serious game without having to create everything in-house. Include a link to a helpful tutorial that walks online learners through a task, or embed a YouTube video that explores a topic at length. You can even create printer-friendly eLearning courses by integrating PDF files and other downloadable documents that online learners can access via the serious game.

6. When In Doubt …. Outsource!

eLearning professionals tend to be self-starters or eLearning  freelancers who tackle every challenge that comes their way. We may have every intention of handling all aspects of the serious game design process, but there are times when it's best to outsource. For example, if you simply don't have time to write an eLearning script you can enlist the help of a professional writer. If you are not quite sure what information to include, maybe you should consider bringing in a Subject Matter Expert. Whether you lack adequate game design experience or simply don't have room in your schedule to do the job on your own, you should consider outsourcing at least some of the eLearning content.

7. Design A Learner Prototype.

You've mapped out every aspect of your serious game and are ready to create your finished product. But wait….how are you going to iron out all the issues and ensure a great serious gaming experience? The solution is developing a learner prototype, or rough draft, and then conducting user testing. Host focus groups to get online learner feedback and identify areas of improvement. Determine whether your game mechanics are fulfilling their purpose, or if you may need to rework your gamification strategy. Make sure that there aren't any coding glitches that may compromise the quality of your serious game. Now is the time to edit, revise, and analyze every element of your serious game design in order to avoid any issues after launch.

Use these 7 tips to design memorable serious gaming experiences for your online learners, even if you've never created interactive multimedia in the past. Choosing your eLearning authoring tools carefully, integrating the most effective game mechanics, and knowing when it's time to outsource are the secrets to serious game success.

Do you need to add a bit of excitement to your compliance online training courses? Read the article 6 Tips To Gamify Compliance Online Training Courses to learn how you can transform your compliance online training courses into amazing gamification experiences.

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