Pushing the Envelope of Pedagogical Gaming: Dark Networks
by Michael E. Freeman, Naval Postgraduate School
In recent decades, instructors have increasingly adopted the use of “serious” games in their classrooms. Typically, these games take the form of role-playing simulations or wargames. However, online computer-run games have opened up new possibilities: to explore complex conceptual relationships, to utilize and display asymmetric information, to be playable anywhere and by anyone, and more. This article describes the game, Dark Networks, and shows why this type of game is valuable as well as how it has been used for pedagogical gains.
Why should an instructor, class, curriculum, or student use a game like Dark Networks? Pedagogically, games: actively engage students, help reinforce key concepts, encourage strategic thinking, and allow players to experiment with strategies. Instructors must also understand how to use a game: when to play it, how much time to dedicate to it, and what needs to be done before and after the game is played.