What's Missing From This Picture?
I hate Monopoly. If there was a time when I liked Monopoly, I can't remember it. Even today, when I dream of hell it features an endless game of Monopoly played with Hitler, Stalin and Pol Pot (Don't ask...).
What if game C in the image above (and also featured prominently in Part 1 of this series) is Monopoly?
All the cool databasing and meeting and organizing in the world aren't going to help me learn if I absolutely hate the game that is supposed to teach me. Resolving this problem is tricky and it starts with the question, "What is a game?"
Note: At this stage, it is typically obligatory to write a lengthy discussion about all the other definitions of "game" and how Suits succeeds in part and fails in part...blah, blah, blah. You can find this sort of stuff anywhere - just Google it. So, in the interest of time, let's just pretend I have already written this essay (OK, OK, "brilliant essay", if you insist). Now we can get to the point.
The ability to reliably connect learner/player preferences in games to learning objectives in classes across the full spectrum of tabletop and video games would, in turn, transform game-based learning from the pedagogical technique du jour to a lasting and important part of the educational landscape.
The first possible source is, of course, private investment. A Pandora-like game recommendation engine makes about as much business sense as Pandora itself. Pandora, however, let's you listen to music it thinks you will like and then makes money when you buy it (and ads, of course, but that would be true for any website).
Since most games take longer than 3 minutes to play (or even to download...), it is unclear to me if this business model would work as well (or at all) for games. More importantly, private investors are unlikely to want to invest in the hard work of tying learning objectives from all of the various curricula to the games. It is something that only someone with deep pockets and a financial incentive (like an educational publisher?) might be able to attempt.
Government could do this, of course. It looks like a good NSF or Dept. of Education grant, perhaps. The military or intelligence community could certainly do it but would be highly likely to focus almost exclusively on a narrow range of skills and games.