A unique way to create opportunities for involvement for a learner is to engage him/her by overlaying game dynamics onto the experience. Since I have laid out the characteristics of Flow in my previous post, I will note here that the third point works exceptionally well for integrating game dynamics in learning experiences. If the activity is engagement with an object in a museum, then the level of skill involved in that engagement must balance in order to master Flow.
Introducing game dynamics allow for this balancing act to occur. A good game allows a player to practice a skill in the first level and then becomes more challenging over time, causing the player to develop their skills to master the game. The goal of successful game design balances actions and outcomes and integrates those into a larger context (Salen & Zimmerman, 2005).
One of the foremost writers/lecturers on employing game dynamics in education, James Paul Gee talks about how games are embedded into a material, social and cultural world (check out his lecture at NYU; it is very insightful). Allowing learners — and now players — to explore multiple paths through learning activities gives them the opportunity to create meaning that builds from their personal experience. Learners/Players engaged in a game must pay attention to details, problem solve, examine different points of view, and overcome challenges. All of these skills can lead to powerful forms of learning, but only if the activity is carefully implemented into a program that considers how to use it effectively and what learning outcomes should be achieved.