Transformative Games: What are they, and why do we need them?

Welcome to Transformed Games–an online community dedicated to the use and creation of transformative games. You may be wondering, what are transformative games and why do we need them?

There’s no formal definition for transformative games. In fact, MIcrosoft Word keeps telling me that “transformative” is not a word. Generally speaking, transformative games are games designed to change the way you think, feel, or behave. For me, they are educational games that help you master life, not just content, by build character and life skills. I like to think of them as games for success.

We need transformative games because there is a gap in our education system, which is not surprising considering it was built for the 20th century. When I grew up, it was possible to take good notes in class, memorize everything for the test, and do very well. This was enough to get you into college, and after four years, you got a piece of paper that gave you enough credentials to get a job.

But that is so last century. We now live in a face paced, global economy. Today, companies like Google aren’t really looking for people with degrees from Harvard or Yale. They are looking for people with particular skills and traits. For example, “Are you a team player?” A quick and able learner? Creative problem solver? Do you have the ability to adapt to a rapidly changing environment? These are all questions I have encountered on the job trail. The thing is, if companies can’t the right people here, they can look for them all over the world.

Does our education system prepare our students for success in the 21st century? Sadly, the answer is no. Too many college graduates don’t know what they want to do, struggle to find jobs, and become discouraged or worse, depressed.

How can we change this? We can start by making character and life skills development coequal with content mastery. This is critical because character takes time to develop and doesn’t just magically appear as a consequence of teaching content. It must be nurtured intentionally from the very beginning, or it may not develop at all.

We must also fully utilize the most powerful tool available to us: games. Games are to the 21st century, as TV and movies were to the 20th and books to centuries before that. Kids simply love playing games. Some educators have picked up on this and are now using games in the classroom because they provide fun, customizable, and repeatable learning challenges. But games can do so much more, if we make them transformative. They could encourage kids to explore, to fail, and to develop the character and skills needed to succeed in the ultimate game: life.

I know that some parents and teachers are skeptical of games, but games may be the best way to reach kids these days. And reach them we must, because  we can’t keep sending them out unprepared. It’s not good for them, nor their parents, nor the future of our society.

At this point, even if you love the idea of transformative games,  there are still a lot of unanswered questions. Which skills and traits are the most important to build? Where can we find transformative games, and how do we use them? These were my questions as well, but I couldn’t find a site that provided all the answers in one place. That’s why I created Transformed Games. On our website you will find game reviews and articles about character and skills, lesson ideas, and the latest research. Consider subscribing or following us on social media for updates.

I’m excited to share what I found, but I’m more excited to learn from all of you. How have games transformed your lives? Do you have any ideas or research that you want to share? I would love to interview you or share your work with the community. My mission is to Transform Edgames–collaborating with parents, teachers, students, researchers, and game developers to build the next generation of transformative games. If this mission speaks to you, please join us! I believe that great things are possible when people work together. Let’s transform lives through games.

Thanks for listening, and until next time, take care.

For an in-depth look into questions raised by this video,  check out the follow-up Q&A.


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