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From last August’s Serious Games Conference Kick-Off in Joburg, South Africa:

[Ernest W.] Adams mentioned “stealth learning” as a very effective way to convey a specific message in a serious game. He said Lufthansa has a game called Virtual Pilot that challenges gamers to fly to the designated city with increasingly fewer aids. They say “Land at city X,” and all you have to go on is a map of the region showing red dots (cities) within country boundaries, and you must choose the right city to proceed. Success then removes the dots representing the cities, and you must guess where the city in question is, and you’re awarded more points the closer your chosen spot is to the actual location. The final level removes country boundaries as well, stretching your memory and knowledge to the maximum.

While a fun game in its own right, what you don’t realise as you play is that you now know what cities Lufthansa flies to as the game doesn’t show cities the airline doesn’t service. Sneaky!

Seriously?

I have the greatest respect for Ernest Adams so I believe he mentioned this game as an example for the underlying mechanics in principle and not for its quality as a serious game in general. Where to begin: advergames as serious games? learning a brand’s flight destinations as an educational objective? flight destinations that—give me a sec—we can check out anytime anywhere on our phones courtesy of Google Search or Lufthansa’s own nifty app? the lack of an incentive system to retain the geographical knowledge gained (except for use in repeat games)? knowledge, moreover, that you need to succeed in the first place? the lack of any game mechanism that makes this knowledge relevant to the player beyond earning points toward a finite total?

You can check out Lufthansa’s Lufthansa to Europe Destination Game for yourself. Bring Flash.

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