Heisenburg’s Uncertainty Principle states that the act of exactly measuring the state (position and momentum) of a particle is impossible as the act of observation or measurement changes the state of the particle. This seems relevant to rising number of observations by non-game players of games based learning. So put away your tokens and badges, this isn’t what matters.
In a game (where you and the developer view metrics) it is easier to measure what players actually do (search for, buy, click on) instead of relying on what they say they do. Thus game developers can accurately target players based on their inherent preferences instead of what they say or think are there preferences. Good games learn about you, bad ones don’t no matter how many badges they give you. There seems something vaguely relevant to teaching in that.
Allowing customisation and flow is essential to gain attention and action. It is much more efficient compared to other more traditional forms of ‘learning about your audience’ such surveys and ‘Beuller-ist’ questioning.
The act of being in game spaces, changes behavior. The most important thing a learning game can do, is learn about the player and attempt to pursuade them to adopt new behaviours. Games are not just for learning with, they are built to learn about the player. Play Crysis2 and discover this, you won’t discover it in the literature. The same cannot be said for a Google or even Facebook, which predominantly attempts to learn which ads to show you.
Even if a teacher has no intention of actually playing the game – simply being in the space and watching will change their behavior.
One way or the other, games change things. Now go outside, see what people are doing on those iPhones.