Consulting, Culture, Cognition, Assessment, Research, and Media Production


vgAlt is a full service instructional design provider of games and instruction environments led by Brock Dubbels who specializes in learning and assessment with emphasis in social learning and cognition.

As the Principal Learning Architect at vgAlt, Brock has brought together teams to develop products, systems, and analysis


  • teaching and training,
  • entertainment,
  • virtual worlds,
  • models and simulations,
  • branding, publicity, and full-service web-presence
  • iPhone apps, SMS, and social-networking
–all informed by  research-based design and data
collection for decision making.


Learning does not need to be sacrifice and suffering–although this is what many learners are accustomed to in education and training.

Surprisingly, we have found that many  do not consider learning in a play environment as learning like they expect or experienced in school and formal training contexts–when asked, they felt like they should have had to study and be tested.

When they were debriefed and helped to make connections to the deeper experiential learning in the games and play curriculum, there was deeper learning and a greater likelihood that the lessons would be integrated and implemented because they were found to be motivating and engaging.

When the learners were asked to discuss the game and play activities, and these were related to traditional academic outcomes, and the processes they participated in were made explicit, they felt they had achieved a much greater awareness of their learning, the content, and felt more confidence in their ability to build knowledge.

A game can teach facts, process, and context, but it is also important to have the game and play extend beyond the play space into the workspace, and create an integration of making work playful, and working hard at that play. This must engage the learner emotionally and cognitively.

Our games, which we consider a structured form of play, go beyond traditional views of the magic circle, because in today’s world, game play for entertainment does too, with fanfiction, transmedial narratives, social networking, and affinity groups.

These activities can all be integrated as an extension of the game, extending the opportunity to learn content, and extend the context of the game into other aspects of the learner’s life, providing performance data and allowing for self-improvement with feedback, and data collection that is assessed, measured and evaluated for policy.

When we design a learning environment, we do so with research in mind, so that we can look at what we created, what the learners experienced, evaluate the learning goals and outcomes, cost/benefit analysis, and build theory.

What is unique about what we do is the systems approach and the way we reverse engineer play as a deep and effective learning tool into transformative learning, where pleasurable activities can be counted as learning.


Educational research in cognitive psychology, curriculum and instruction, game design, discourse analysis, mixed-method design, theories of play and learning, assessment, instructional design, and technology innovation.