November 30, 2015

Game-Based Learning



Every game teaches its players skills and content. Beyond learning game mechanics, the story, art, and meta-narrative are full of relevant lessons that applies to its players lives. Minecraft teaches resource management, Portal expands understandings of physics, World of Warcraft requires learning teamwork and interdependency. As players overcome the obstacles in games, they master both skills and game content. Games thus present an opportunity to engage students.

Game-based learning is the practice of using games as a learning tool. The interactivity of games, especially video games, can be used to teach virtually anything—from digital literacies to social skills, art & design to resource management & economics, strategy & teamwork to computer programming. Often, learning objects are used in conjunction with games to provide structure and direction for intended learning.

Some educators are using popular games such as Minecraft to teach geography & programming or Portal to teach physics & language arts. There are also a wide variety of purpose-built educational games to supplement standard courses. Some academics are also using games to collaborate with gamers and further scientific discovery.



Games in Education – How Games Can Improve Our Schools

Gaming can Make a Better World

Learning with Video Games


Leading author and book in the field of gamification:

  • James Gee, What Video Games Have to Teach Us About Learning and Literacy (Palgrave Macmillan, 2003). (book review)

Overview article on game-based learning:

  • Sigmund Tobias, J. Dexter Fletcher, and Alexander P. Wind, “Game-Based Learning” in Handbook of Research on Educational Communications and Technology, (Springer 2014), 485-503. (url)

Set of articles on Game-Based Learning from online pedagogy site and community:

  • “Game-Based Learning,” Edutopia. Accessed January 25, 2016. (url)

Sites for two of the most popular game-based learning communities:

  • MinecraftEdu. Accessed January 25, 2016. (url)
  • Teach with Portals. Accessed January 25, 2016. (url)

Summary of the implementation of game-based learning in teaching civil engineering:

  • Martin Ebner, Andreas Holzinger, “Successful implementation of user-centered game based learning in higher education: An example from civil engineering,” Computers & Education 49, no. 3 (November 2007): 873-890. (url)

Further reading:

  • Google Scholar Results for Game-Based Learning

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Challenge Activity

Discussion Questions

  1. How is GOBLIN being used to teach you?
  2. What is being taught with GOBLIN?
  3. What is game-based learning?
  4. What concepts can be taught using games?
  5. Can any game be used in game-based learning?
  6. What characteristics of a game make it viable in game-based learning?
  7. How does can game-based learning be used to engage and motivate students?
  8. How can game-based learning be used in your courses to increase student success?
  9. Select a game to use in a course and explain how you would use it to teach.

Suggested Games

These are games that we believe can be used in game-based learning effectively: