This article compares Purpose Built Education Games to Commercial Entertainment Games in terms of their use in the classroom. The comparison is done using the five factors: design, delivery, technology & support, outcomes and cost.

Does the game provide a sense of realism (as opposed to pure fantasy)? Commercial entertainment games (CEnG) provide a visually compelling experience for the player and can provide a chance to practice “authentic” activities. Unfortunately, it can also be argued that they can provide an experience that is too authentic with depictions of violence and sexuality. This has caused some parents to worry about the appropriateness of using games in the classroom. Purpose built education games (PBEdG) should not suffer from being inappropriate and can be graphic rich, although this is not always the case. In reality, the design should immerse the learners in the game play, but this should not be at the expense of the learning.

Does the game offer a suitable level of complexity and is it inclusive? This issue poses a lot of problems for CEnG as they are often designed to play over months. The game play has to be rich and thus complex. This means that they can be problematic for classroom use, as it is hard to justify the initial time spent learning about the game and how it plays. Some CEnG, though, are fairly easy to use – Wii party games, for example. PBEdG, on the other hand, ought to be designed to work easily and as importantly they should support multiple learning styles and be inclusive. Note: CEnG sessions can potentially be dominated by players who already know the game or gaming platform.

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