I've been reading some of this dissertation today, on the use of Civilization III for teaching world history and social studies (word doc):
The sections beginning on p. 26 with Research on Games and Simulations in Social Studies Education, are fascinating:
"Specifically, games can be engaging but frequently learners have difficulty making connections between the game system and the referent social/material system the game is intended to represent (Clegg, 1991)."
"For many instructional designers, the debriefing activities surrounding game play have been regarded as possibly more important for engendering learning than the game-playing itself (Heinich, Molenda, Russell, & Smaldino,1996; Livingston & Stoll, 1973; Thiagarajan, 1998). Heinich et al. (1996) recommend a four-step debriefing process following game play involving the following questions: (1) How did you feel while playing the game? (decompressing – feelings); (2) What happened during the game? (describing – facts ); (3) How does this activity compare to other phenomena? (drawing comparisons – enhancing transfer); (4) What might you plan to do differently in future activity? (deriving lessons – application)."
"Lloyd Reiber (1996) [...differentiates] between endogenous games where the “content” is inseparable from game play and exogenic games where the game play is a reusable format that is layered on top of game content, as in crossword puzzles, matching games, or trial-and-error games (e.g. Hangman)."
"Will Wright (2002), designer of The Sims and SimCity argues that digital games might be fruitfully divided into three overlapping activities: contests, hobbies, and interactive stories.... Contests are interactive experiences where competition, winning, and losing are key elements of the experience...Unreal Tournament, Madden Football and Quake as typical of such games and compares them to other competitive activities such as sports. Hobby games involve creating, collecting, and sharing creations with other hobbyists. The Sims, SimCity, and RailRoad Tycoon are examples of such games. It is worth noting that, in a “hobby” game, playing the actual game is only a minimal part of the experience as building characters or scenarios, publishing them on the web, and experiencing other players’ creations are all a critical part of the experience. Finally, there are what Wright calls interactive story games, where the game experience is about participating in an interactive story, such as in Final Fantasy X, or Baldur’s Gate."
Bartle’s (1996) taxonomy of motivation in multiplayer gaming: