Most people don’t even realize they are learning when they are engaged in a game. They are so busy competing with others and having fun that they get completely immersed in the subject matter without even realizing it. They are striving to obtain the reward of winning and get completely focused and zoned in on what they are doing.
I recently watched three videos by Jesse Schell of Carnegie Mellon University on the topic of "Design Outside the Box - Beyond Facebook" . . . His imagination blows my mind! His discussion on psychological tricks helps me to understand why I play some games and get fully engaged. It's the psychological tricks that pull us in.
In the University setting I often use Ramp Up! It’s a simple board game that teaches to fundamentals of Performance Consulting while providing a fun and competitive challenge. It always amazes me how the students want to keep playing (and learning) when the time allotted has passed—like trying to get a child to come in for dinner when they are playing with their friends. “Please, can we continue for another 30 minutes,” is what I hear every time.