To game or not to game?

Most of the recent posts have focused exclusively on Second Life and virtual worlds.  However, I’d like to turn my attention towards another, albeit related platform–educational gaming.  One of the most interesting aspects about gaming is its interdisciplinary nature.  From the complex cross-section of skills needed to design an educational game, to the cross-section of skills that one puts to use to play games such as World of Warcraft or Civilization, games (or simulations if you prefer that term) have the potential to engage, immerse, and challenge us.  Serious games such as Global Conflicts, Latin America to serious games platforms such as CivWorld (which uses the Civilization game platform to build academic content) provide immersive opportunities for learning.  What are the educational benefits of gaming?  What are the affordances of gaming platforms?  What are the barriers to adoption?  Is it possible to customize or build course-specific simulations affordably?

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