Exploring how the mind learns, we find that game design and game-based learning align perfectly with storytelling’s power to foster emotional connections and cognitive skills.
There are several theories – behavioral, cognitive, constructivist, social, and experiential – and storytelling seems a well-tailored solution according to all of them. Storytelling in game-based learning offers narratives and character creation, which helps learners create associations and emotional connections. This aligns with behavioral theory’s focus on how environmental influences shape learning. Per cognitive theory, storytelling stimulates cognitive skills like language, logic, and abstract thinking. Interactive story-based learning tools like simulations, branching scenarios, and roleplay suit the constructivist view of learners as active participants in constructing knowledge. Similarly, storytelling works well with social learning’s emphasis on observation, imitation, and internalization, as well as experiential learning’s focus on hands-on experiences.
Storytelling, a core element in effective game design, is a psychologically sound mode of learning, no matter how you analyze learning. This makes it a powerful multi-dimensional tool to address diverse learning needs.
The Unbeatable Impact of Storytelling in Game-Based Learning
Organizational psychologist Peg Neuhauser says learning that “stems from a well-told story is remembered more accurately and for far longer than learning derived from facts and figures”. Psychologist Jerome Bruner, says “facts are 20 times more likely to be remembered if they’re part of a story”.
Psychologist and professional storyteller Vanessa Boris says that in any group, roughly 40% will be predominantly visual learners, another 40% will be auditory, and the remaining 20% are kinesthetic learners, who learn best by doing or feeling. You guessed it, storytelling has aspects that work for all three types.
“Visual learners appreciate the mental pictures storytelling evokes. Auditory learners focus on the words and the storyteller’s voice. Kinesthetic learners remember the emotional connections and feelings from the story.”
In game design, narratives are key to delivering strong learning experiences. So how do you craft narratives to deliver educational content?
You can do this by incorporating some of the crucial components of storytelling in your game-based learning, such as:
- Setting: The time and place where the story unfolds; helps create a mood and backdrop.
- Characters: Each fulfilling a distinct role; helps drive the plot forward.
- Plot: The ultimate goal driving the story forward.
- Theme: The central idea or underlying message of the story.
A compelling narrative structure can make your game based learning module more immersive and impactful, promising increased engagement and motivation, leading to improved retention of information through narrative arcs, and aiding real-world application of theoretical concepts.
Implementing Storytelling in Your Game Design and Game-Based Learning Modules
Seamlessly integrate the storytelling:
Make it a natural part of the curriculum. For example, in a history class, narrate historical events through engaging stories that contextualize the era. Make Napoleon a person, not just a historical figure!
Align character development with learning objectives:
Allow learners to engage in small group story-games, assuming different roles to solve challenges, and adjusting difficulty levels accordingly. One can follow it up with peer reflection to assess learning. This helps reinforce learning outcomes. For example, create characters representing different cultural contexts in a language class. Mr. Pasta from Italy on a verb and herb hunt, for instance!
Throw in scenarios and simulations:
This deepens the experience. A workplace storytelling e-learning module, for instance, allows staff to navigate hypothetical situations, to understand their preparedness for real-life workplace challenges. In a classroom science lesson, virtual experiments are a great way to understand theoretical principles.
Empower learners through decision-making narratives:
Your move, your choice. For example, in an ethics class, presenting dilemmas through narratives will enable students to make decisions. In a workplace learning module, problem-solving skills can be enhanced with storytelling. Simulation training, akin to real-life scenarios, allows decision-making with consequences, aiding knowledge retention. Storytelling allows learners to not just embark on their journeys but also brings in a shared feeling of working towards something together. It is important in these cases to allow learners the space to make mistakes to understand that ever-important lesson that growth sometimes arises from failure.
Gauge learner performance as well. To measure the impact of storytelling in an online course, various metrics can be employed. Video views, completion rates, comments, and shares can help assess learner interest and involvement. Assessments and quizzes measure comprehension and application. Surveys and reviews assess satisfaction levels. Feedback tools like surveys and interviews offer qualitative insights. Several metrics can be used to understand the influence of storytelling on course outcomes and feedback.
Storytelling in game-based learning is a powerful tool, leveraging game design principles to elevate educational experiences. A narrative-driven and character-based approach can elevate educational experiences. Before you get started, consult the experts. Talk to Hornbill FX today.