TOUrism PlAtform for euRopean Educational Games
TOUAREG - The Lifelong Learning Programme, Leonardo da Vinci project
(ES/07/LLP-LdV/TOI/149018)

The Leonardo da Vinci project entitled “Touareg” (TOUrism PlAtform for euRopean Educational Games) aims to add to this emerging area of research and practice by introducing a serious games approach to education and training in the tourism sector. The report which follows offers a series of reviews of a range of important serious games: 14 of which are general in terms of their subject matter or educational content and a further 9 of which have been deemed to be of particular relevance to the tourism sector, this later group includes games in the areas of language skill, hospitality industry, management and travel. A broad picture of the state of the art emerged from these reviews. These games, for instance, are generally rather basic and unsophisticated in terms of graphics, gameplay etc with a 2D “point and click” interface being by far the most common design. Likewise in-game assessment is generally facilitated via multiple choice quizzes presented at various pre-defined or random points in the game sequence. Those games that are more technically advanced seem, from the reviews, to be more confusing or distracting than their more basic counterparts with the more sophisticated game mechanics or game elements occasionally outweighing the learning objectives or educational content; in one case in particular (Hotel Gigant) the player is obliged to spent extensive time in the game tutorial in order to learn to play the game itself. Fortunately there are some exceptions to this rule (notably Global Conflicts: Palestine), with some game designers managing a difficult-to-achieve balance between game and pedagogical elements. Many of the games appear to have been designed as a complement to face-to-face classes with a number of game sites and games themselves (ElectroCity, Future Park Planner) including teacher resources on the websites; certain games not only being segmented on the basis of learning objectives but with the option of saving progress and continuing on after – presumably – some in-class activity.

It is one of the founding premises of the Touareg project that serious games and other game-related learning approaches can represent an appropriate and effective method for the facilitation of key skills and competence development both within and beyond the Tourism sector; it is hoped that this extensive report represents the first step in working towards a demonstration and proof of this point and that others involved in research and practice in this emerging area can find something of use and value here to guide their own work.