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In this chapter, you will learn about the unique challenges of learning game design, the necessary multidisciplinary makeup of learning game design teams, and ways to improve team efficiency and effectiveness through communication. Learning games combine content and context to create a meaningful interaction between players’ experience and learning. They often employ an experiential learning strategy and have been called “designed experiences” (Squire, 2006). When learning games are viewed in this light, designing them becomes quite a challenge for several reasons: 1) many variables must be manipulated to achieve the right kind of learning experience at the right time; 2) learning game design has characteristics of ill-structured problem solving; 3) as an ill-structured problem, it requires learning game designers with a high level of expertise; and 4) the solution will require input from multiple disciplines. Having a highly skilled multidisciplinary design team raises another set of challenges including the development of a shared mental model. Research has shown that when team members think similarly, they are more likely to work effectively together (Cannon-Bowers & Salas, 1998; Guzzo & Salas, 1995; Hackman, 1990). When team members understand their differences and take measures to leverage them, learning game design teams are strengthened, leading to a more efficient and effective design process. Research indicates that multidisciplinary learning game design team members think differently about: 1) design goals; 2) authenticity requirements; 3) feedback design; 4) the integration of fun within the learning experience; 5) term definition; and 6) documentation contents. Current design models do not include steps to mitigate these differences and to build a team’s shared mental model. Therefore, we provide specific actions that should be integrated into a learning game design model to support the critical and necessary communications among learning game design team members.
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