This past week a group I’ve been involved with began the initial “play testing” of a learning game we have been involved with, and an interesting dichotomy surfaced during the review. The game has a Science Fiction theme, but it was considered that the same or greater impact might be generated by using a more current theme.
In the first playtesting, half the players we received feedback from stated that they thought it might be more effective with the game play more connected to contemporary reality. The other half stated the Sci-Fi theme allowed them to disconnect and give the more honest reactions which drove the effectiveness of the game.
Part of the learning in this game depends on people giving honest reactions about their impressions of characters in the game in order to “score points”.
Do you think you are more likely to give honest reaction when grounded in a reality that might “punish” you for your response or when you are in a “safe” fantasy environment where it might not matter as much?
In learning games, do you think the theme (context) or the mechanics (play) matter more?