Why Games & Learning?
Education in the early part of the twentieth century
tended to focus on the acquisition of basic skills and
content knowledge, like
reading, writing, calculation, history or science. Many
experts believe that success in the twenty-first
century depends on education that treats higher
order skills, like the ability to think, solve complex
problems or interact critically through language and
Games naturally support this form of education. They
are designed to create a compelling complex
problem space or world, which players come to
understand through self-directed exploration.
WHY USE GAME-BASED LEARNING?
The integration of learning with gaming make
science more fun.
Games motivate students to learn.
Immerses them in the material so they learn more
Encourages them to learn from their mistakes.
How to teach with games?
To integrate learning and game play:
1. Work out how to give students points for accomplishing
certain goals in a lesson plan
2. Decide on rewards for the victors
3. Create game pieces
4. Test your game before you run it
Some important concerns include:
1. What makes a good game?
2. Playing fair
3. Grades and Games
Categories of games
adventure games, where the player moves through a
puzzle games, such as Tetris,
role-playing games, where the player assumes the role of
a person or creature, such as Dungeons and Dragons,
strategy games, such as The Sims, where a player’s
strategy drives the game,
sports games, such as golf or football, and
first-person shooter games.
What makes a good game?
Combining Fun and
Competition in the Classroom
1. Will the students handle competition well?
2. Is there a problem rewarding some with high scores
or awards and punishing others with low scores?
Focus on Winning vs. Focus on Learning
Grades and Games
Keeping Grades and Games
Giving Grades for Game
1. Reserve grades for tasks of
the sort that are used to assess
people in the working world or for
tasks which are themselves
1. Have students compete for
2. Use games to prepare
students for exams: the challenges
are basically practice exam
2. Set the number of points
needed to get a given grade
before starting the game,
especially if it is not timed.
3. Avoid turning a
competitive game into an exam
graded on a curve
Multi-user virtual environments (MUVEs) are popular
form of multimedia-based entertainment.
MUVEs designed for the educational community
embed tasks or problems within a virtual
environment or context. Users can explore the
environment and examine digital objects. Typically,
there is also a means to communicate with other
users and online agents.
Educational MUVEs are designed to support inquirybased learning and conceptual understanding.
River City is a MUVE for teaching scientific inquiry
and 21st-century skills in middle school science
River City is designed around topics that are central
to biological and epidemiological subject matter.
As visitors to River City, students travel back in
time, bringing their 21st-century knowledge and
technology to address 19th-century problems.
River City is a town besieged with health
problems, and students work together in small
research teams to help the town understand why
residents are becoming ill.