All educators seek the magic trinity of attention, comprehension, and retention. For interaction design educators, the struggle to achieve these goals is even greater. Hopeful designers enter the field with lofty aspirations, yet they still need to learn the fundamental principles of design and build the core skills of an interaction designer. While keeping design students engaged is undoubtedly a challenge, there is a medium that allows students to internalize the fundamentals of design by experiencing them.
Games have become ubiquitous in our culture. They are inherently engaging. Some are good and some are… not. By teaching design students how to design games, educators expose their students to the basics of interaction design in ways that the students can experience themselves. Concepts like affordance, skill building, storytelling, and emotion become real rather than just conceptual. Altering the parameters of their games helps students feel the effect these concepts have on their games.
This method has the potential to improve interaction design education across the board by ensuring that design graduates have internalized the fundamentals by the time they are ready to enter the field. What’s more, any design educator can learn to teach interaction design by teaching their students how to design games. After all, it’s fun!