An interesting article at Virtual Learning Worlds discusses the design of educational games, with a cute video that discusses “tangental learning”.
According to the video, tangental learning is what you learn by being exposed to topics in a context you are already engaged in, rather than learning by being directly taught. It can work by exposing people to topics they didn’t know they were interested in, so they may then independently seek further information. In short, people will self-educate if they already find the topic interesting and engaging. The trick is to add to the depth of the player’s experience, without making them feel like they’re being held down and blugeoning them with knowledge.
The video is worth watching not only for its content, but also as a study in presenting a potentially dry topic in an interesting way.