The single most important thing that any person can do to better understand games could never be captured in a blog. While this post was written to prepare its readers to have the highest probability of success in developing and deploying games in to their educational and training programs, it cannot replace actual experience. If I could make a game about making serious games, I would, but the potential of games would not be best served in helping you understand the minutia that go into the design and development process, or even the determination of if a game could help. Therefore, you must play. There is no substitute for understanding how games work than to actually play as many types of games as possible. This is not or should not be a painful assignment. You can call it “research” for your upcoming project. Everybody plays games in one form or another, but few people tend to classify themselves as gamers. We are all gamers. I don’t know anyone who has never played hide and seek, or go fish.
There are literally hundreds of thousands of games out there, just waiting to be played. Play some board games, play some card games, play some online games, play some console games. You don’t have to own a console, just walk into a store that sells them and they are likely to have some demo games out on their showroom floor that you can play. As you play each game, think about what the game was designed to do. Think about what you learned from the game. Ask yourself what you could transfer from that game into your life. Get involved in the games community. Share your stories. Tell others what you are doing. Ask them what their favorite games are, and when they tell you they don’t play games, remind them that there are many types of games that don’t need to be plugged in. There is no better preparation than to dig right in and try something new. After all, if you want people to use your game, you better be prepared to play it.