Recently, I came across an article titled Why Games Don't Teach from Ruth Clark. The article sparked a lot of controversy and debate in the learning circles, primarily because of its title. Karl Kapp even responded back to Ruth's article with Games Teach. And, he quoted various researches to prove his point.
Personally, I do think that Ruth's views about the value games bring to e-learning actually make a lot of sense. So far, I haven’t seen many few game-like components that work for learners. Mostly, in the effort to provide a game-like feel to a course, we end up adding unnecessary complexity and hampering learning. Any unnecessary complexity kills the learning experience, and that's what most of the so-called games do. This view is substantiated by the experimental evidence provided by Ruth in the section “Beware Masquerading Your Content in Game Costume” in her article.
However, the entire controversy sparked by Ruth’s article is also because of the lack of a formal definition for games in e-learning. What most learning designers call games are scenario-based simulations with game-based interfaces. And, there is no doubt about the fact that simulations work. What can work better than experiential learning in a simulated environment, anyway. A simulation teaches the real-world application and in some ways "looks" like a game.
So, I hold my view unless I see a game (and not a game-based interface or a simulation) in e-learning that actually teaches . Do let me know if you come across any.