As you should know, my book Engaging Learning: Designing e-Learning Simulation Games was published back in 2005. I was just talking to them about some other possible projects, and the question arose about why it hadn’t been more successful. I had my story, but I’d welcome your feedback.
I’m quite proud of the book, I have to say; I believe it accomplished what I intended it to, which was to lay out a principled framework about why games are effective for learning, and then give you a systematic process to go about designing them, along with some hints and tips. It came out at a time when interest was peaking about using games to meet learning needs. So, why didn’t it fly off the shelves? My answer is severalfold:
- It wasn’t marketed well. My publisher basically sent a few copies to reviewers, and then did little. I may have not been proactive enough in letting them know my speaking engagements, but I did do a lot of speaking and writing. That may not have been leveraged sufficiently.
- The unique contribution, that this book is about how to design learning games, wasn’t really communicated. That is, while some books tell you about why it’s important, this was the only one that really gives you a design process. (And still is, as far as I can tell.)
- At the same time, lots of other books came out that were about games for learning, authors including Johnson, Gee, Shaffer, Aldrich, Koster, and more. They had a different proposition, but some were higher profile for a variety of reasons, and the sheer quantity created confusion.
Now, there are other possible reasons, including most obviously that the book isn’t any good. I’ve received very nice comments from people who’ve read it, but one of the few Amazon reviews isn’t very nice (I noticed only recently). So, I could be self-deluded. Also, I’m not a great self-promoter (that is, while I’m convinced that I’m quite good at what I do, I’m not very active in going out and selling that idea to people). I probably should’ve been more forward in getting those who told me they liked it to write Amazon reviews (please, feel free!).
I’d really welcome feedback on this, as I did try to make a unique and valuable contribution, and still expect that the book could have ‘legs’ if I can figure out where I might refocus some of my or my publisher’s efforts. They did mention that they’ve reorganized their marketing department ;). Comments? Honest and constructive encouraged as well as supportive.