How to Keep Pac-Man alive in eLearning

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Our belief: At Vignettes Learning we use stories in eLearning; however, we make them interactive. The emphasis is getting learners involved in the story and not just telling the learners the story.
Synthesis. The classic game Pac-Man revolutionized gamification and introduced advanced principles on how to create engaging, purposeful and relevant electronic content. Apply the concepts of the iconic game to Story-based design, rapid learning and micro-lessons.

Click here to play PAC-MAN.

Pac-Man celebrated its 30th Anniversary on May 2013. This classic video game is one of the most successful games in history. Pac-Man is praised for many reasons. Tech gurus claim that Pac-Man revolutionized gaming and it introduced effective core principles in game design.

Christine Champagne wrote an endearing article on PAC-MAN and explained the contextual value of the said game:

Pac-Man prompted designers to experiment with a broader range of characters, environments, and stories in their games. I mentioned Pengo from Sega as another game released during the same era. While not directly cribbing Pac-Man’s game play, the design aesthetic always resonated with me as being from the same camp. A cartoon penguin, amorphous blobs as enemies, simple interstitial animations between levels, wicked game play mechanics, all of these things were borne out of the design influence that Pac-Man had on the industry. And look at what followed: Mr. Do, Dig-Dug, Ms. Pac-Man, Tutankham, etc. All games that came after Pac-Man that had an iconic mascot that was central to the game. But Pac-Man was the first.

The influence that Pac-Man had on game design can still be felt to this day. Not in just the many remakes of the original game over the years, but by games that appropriate the core mechanics of Pac-Man in new ways. From games that trade in stealth mechanics, avoiding pursuers in achieving their goals, to games that have a linear collection mechanic, the echo of Pac-Man, or “ghosts” of Pac-Man, if you will, can be observed in games today…

Pac-Man is timeless. Its character design and the mechanics of it are so simple. It’s basically the cardinal movements on a compass, right? North, south, east, west, that’s it. So it’s incredibly approachable, incredibly accessible, and it’s a game that doesn’t have to rely on technology to prove its point. It relies on the mechanics and the art style, not necessarily technology.

I delved on concept of Pac-Man and assessed its relevance to Story-based eLearning design, rapid learning and micro-lessons. Imagine if eLearning designers can make their lessons and methodologies as engaging as Pac-Man. 

What are the Pac-Man elements which we can use for eLearning instructional design? Here are a few points on Pac-Man which we designers can apply to our eLearning design:

Pac-Man is scenario-based. There is a confined space where the character is expected to achieve specific objective amidst the obstacles.

Pac-Man is a story. Like all stories, Pac-Man has a beginning, middle and end. It has a setting, characters and plot.

Pac-Man is conflict-ridden. The game is engaging because there is a constant conflict that the user must overcome.

Pac-Man is emotionally engaging. Lessons that affect the heart build an instant connection with the learners.

Pac-Man gives user control. The present and future of Pac-Man is in the hands of the user.

I have always been a proponent for simplicity. Pac-Man achieves the goal of a good game even if it is visually crude because of its simplicity. As a personal rule, I see to it that I have a straightforward approach in designing our eLearning modules. Like the Pac-Man, I go straight to the point, hurdle the obstacles and win as many points for the eLearner.

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