Games and Learning/Resources

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Ulicsak, M. & Wright, M. (2010), 'Serious Games in Education', Literature review, futurlab.

de Freitas, S. (2006), 'Learning in immersive worlds: A review of game-based learning', Bristol Joint Information Systems Committee.

Squire, K. (2005), 'Game-Based Learning: Present and Future State of the Field', MASIE Centre report.

Kirriemuir, J. & Mcfarlane, A. (2004), 'Literature Review in Games and Learning', Literature review, NESTA Futurelab.

Mitchell, A. & Savill-Smith, C. (2004), 'The use of computer and video games for learning - a review of the literature', Technical report, Learning and Skills Development Agency.


Felicia, P. (2009), 'Digital Games in Schools: a Handbook for Teachers', Caroline Kearney, ed., Technical report, European Schoolnet.

Pivec, M., ed. (2010), Engage Catalogue of Games for Learning 2009-2010,

Eric, K.; Scot, O. & Katie, S. (2009), 'Moving learning games forward' , Cambridge, MA: The Education Arcade

Pivec, M. & Pivec, P. (2009), 'IMAGINE Final Report'

This report undertakes the task of identifying Game-Based Learning (GBL) projects within the European community and provides a description of good practice case studies spread across all levels of education.


Whitton, N. (2009), Learning with digital games: a practical guide to engaging students in higher education.

Written for Higher Education teaching and learning professionals, Learning with Digital Games provides an accessible, straightforward introduction to the field of computer game-based learning. Up to date with current trends and the changing learning needs of today's students, this text offers friendly guidance, and is unique in its focus on post-school education and its pragmatic view of the use of computer games with adults.

Raessens, J. & Goldstein, J. (2005), Handbook of computer game studies, Boston: MIT Press.

New media students, teachers, and professionals have long needed a comprehensive scholarly treatment of digital games that deals with the history, design, reception, and aesthetics of games along with their social and cultural context. The Handbook of Computer Game Studies fills this need with a definitive look at the subject from a broad range of perspectives. Contributors come from cognitive science and artificial intelligence, developmental, social, and clinical psychology, history, film, theater, and literary studies, cultural studies, and philosophy as well as game design and development. The text includes both scholarly articles and journalism from such well-known voices as Douglas Rushkoff, Sherry Turkle, Henry Jenkins, Katie Salen, Eric Zimmerman, and others. Part I considers the "prehistory" of computer games including slot machines and pinball machines, the development of computer games themselves, and the future of mobile gaming. The chapters in part II describe game development from the designer's point of view, including the design of play elements, an analysis of screenwriting, and game-based learning. Part III reviews empirical research on the psychological effects of computer games, and includes a discussion of the use of computer games in clinical and educational settings. Part IV considers the aesthetics of games in comparison to film and literature, and part V discusses the effect of computer games on cultural identity, including gender and ethnicity. Finally, part VI looks at the relation of computer games to social behavior, considering, among other matters, the inadequacy of laboratory experiments linking games and aggression and the different modes of participation in computer game culture.

Salen, K. & Zimmerman, E. (2003), Rules of play: Game design fundamentals, Boston: MIT Press.

As pop culture, games are as important as film or television—but game design has yet to develop a theoretical framework or critical vocabulary. In Rules of Play Katie Salen and Eric Zimmerman present a much-needed primer for this emerging field. They offer a unified model for looking at all kinds of games, from board games and sports to computer and video games. As active participants in game culture, the authors have written Rules of Play as a catalyst for innovation, filled with new concepts, strategies, and methodologies for creating and understanding games.. Building an aesthetics of interactive systems, Salen and Zimmerman define core concepts like "play," "design," and "interactivity." They look at games through a series of eighteen "game design schemas," or conceptual frameworks, including games as systems of emergence and information, as contexts for social play, as a storytelling medium, and as sites of cultural resistance. Written for game scholars, game developers, and interactive designers, Rules of Play is a textbook, reference book, and theoretical guide. It is the first comprehensive attempt to establish a solid theoretical framework for the emerging discipline of game design.

Kafai, Y. B. (1995), Minds in Play: Computer Game Design As a Context for Children's Learning, Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Video games more than any other media have become an essential part of contemporary children's culture. Whereas most research efforts have concentrated on discussing the effects of game playing, Minds in Play takes a close look at games as a context for learning by placing children in the roles of producers rather than consumers of games. Kafai follows a class of sixteen fourth-grade students from an inner-city public elementary school as they were programming games in Logo to teach fractions to third graders. In this context, programming became a medium for children's personal and creative expression: in the design of their games children engaged their fantasies and built relationships with other pockets of reality that went beyond traditional school approaches.

Piaget, J. (1999), Play, dreams and imitation in childhood, London: Routledge.

Sutton-Smith, B. (2001), The ambiguity of play, Harvard University Press.

Every child knows what it means to play, but the rest of us can merely speculate. Is it a kind of adaptation, teaching us skills, inducting us into certain communities? Is it power, pursued in games of prowess? Fate, deployed in games of chance? Daydreaming, enacted in art? Or is it just frivolity? Brian Sutton-Smith, a leading proponent of play theory, considers each possibility as it has been proposed, elaborated, and debated in disciplines from biology, psychology, and education to metaphysics, mathematics, and sociology. Sutton-Smith focuses on play theories rooted in seven distinct "rhetorics"--the ancient discourses of Fate, Power, Communal Identity, and Frivolity and the modern discourses of Progress, the Imaginary, and the Self. In a sweeping analysis that moves from the question of play in child development to the implications of play for the Western work ethic, he explores the values, historical sources, and interests that have dictated the terms and forms of play put forth in each discourse's öbjective" theory. This work reveals more distinctions and disjunctions than affinities, with one striking exception: however different their descriptions and interpretations of play, each rhetoric reveals a quirkiness, redundancy, and flexibility. In light of this, Sutton-Smith suggests that play might provide a model of the variability that allows for "natural" selection. As a form of mental feedback, play might nullify the rigidity that sets in after successful adaption, thus reinforcing animal and human variability. Further, he shows how these discourses, despite their differences, might offer the components for a new social science of play.

Buckingham, D. Thompson, J. Carr, D. & Burn, A. (2006), Computer Games: Text, Narrative And Play, Blackwell Pub.

Computer games are one of the most exciting and rapidly evolving media of our time. Revenues from console and computer games have now overtaken those from Hollywood movies; and online gaming is one of the fastest-growing areas of the internet. Games are no longer just kids' stuff: the majority of players are now adults, and the market is constantly broadening. The visual style of games has become increasingly sophisticated, and the complexities of game-play are ever more challenging. Meanwhile, the iconography and generic forms of games are increasingly influencing a whole range of other media, from films and television to books and toys. This book provides a systematic, comprehensive introduction to the analysis of computer and video games. It introduces key concepts and approaches drawn from literary, film and media theory, as well as from computer games studies, in an accessible and concrete manner; and it tests their use and relevance by applying them to a small but representative selection of role-playing and action-adventure games. It combines methods of textual analysis and audience research, showing how the combination of such methods can give a more complete picture of these playable texts and the fan cultures they generate. Clearly written and engaging, it will be a key text for students in the field and for all those with an interest in taking games seriously.

Sites and Communities

  • DiGRA "the association for academics and professionals who research digital games and associated phenomena."
  • Games in Schools "European Schoolnet is undertaking a major study sponsored by the Interactive Software Federation of Europe on the use of games in schools in Europe: video games, computer games, online games that run on consoles, computers, handhelds or mobile phones."
  • ENGAGE Learning European Network for Growing Activity in Game-based learning in Education.
  • game based learning
  • Games for Change "a non-profit which seeks to harness the extraordinary power of digital games to address the most pressing issues of our day, including poverty, education, human rights, global conflict and climate change."
  • "the Epistemic games Group is made up of researchers, educators, and game designers who create games in which players see what it is like to live in the world of adults. They learn ways of thinking that matter in the digital age."
  • The Education Arcade "explores games that promote learning through authentic and engaging play. TEA’s research and development projects focus both on the learning that naturally occurs in popular commercial games, and on the design of games that more vigorously address the educational needs of players. Our mission is to demonstrate the social, cultural, and educational potentials of videogames by initiating new game development projects, coordinating interdisciplinary research efforts, and informing public conversations about the broader and sometimes unexpected uses of this emerging art form in education."
  • Rich Games For Learning is a site with a selection of games for the classroom, which engage students while teaching content specific ideas and understandings.
  • ARGNet "The Alternate Reality Gaming Network is the largest and most complete news resource available for players of online collaborative Alternate Reality Games."
  • Gamification: "is the concept that you can apply the basic elements that make games fun and addictive to things that typically aren't considered a game. Examples are Frequent Flyer Programs, Wii Fit, badges in Foursquare, etc. The possible applications of game dynamics are nearly infinite with many believing that gamification will impact everything from the web to education, health, and work."



Game sites

  • Manga High "one of the world’s first games-based-learning sites, where students learn Mathematics via purpose-built casual games that balance fun and learning."
  • BBC school games
  • Quest Atlantis "international learning and teaching project that uses a 3D multi-user environment to immerse children, ages 9-16, in educational tasks."
  • miniclip "play a large range of free online games including action games, sports games, puzzle games, games for girls, games for kids, flash games and many more."
  • PlayGen "PlayGen are a leading serious games and simulations development studio providing highly flexible technology, content and training."
  • Primary Games Arena "is the largest resource of Primary School games in the universe. Webmasters and developers can enjoy the use of our API which allows them to register games & feed scores from their games straight onto Primary Games Arena! Kids have full national curriculum game coverage."
  • games for learning institute "Based at New York University, the Institute brings together 14 game designers, computer scientists, and education researchers from 9 partner institutions, including Columbia, City University of New York, Dartmouth, NYU, NYU-Poly, Parsons, Chile's Pontifica Universidad Catolica, Rochester Institute of Technology, and Teacher's College."
  • Y8 a directory of free flash games.
  • games section on Open Source Living, "a community-driven dynamic archive of Open Source software spanning all major platforms".
  • Games for Change "has identified and selected the following games as being examples of games that engage contemporary social issues in meaningful ways to foster a more just, equitable and/or tolerant society. These games have been created by cross-disciplinary teams from around the world and all aim to serve the public interest."
  • [1] "Filament Games is a game production studio that exclusively creates learning games. Our core competency is producing games that combine best practices in commercial game development with key concepts from the learning sciences. [..] Filament Games was founded in 2005 by education technology expert Dan White, game designer Dan Norton, and software engineer Alex Stone. In the time since, Filament has developed over 40 educational games for clients ranging from National Geographic’s JASON Science to Justice Sandra Day O’Connor’s iCivics Inc."
  • GameCows "Offers educational board game reviews including math, French and Geography"


  • peacemaker "PeaceMaker challenges you to succeed as a leader where others have failed. Experience the joy of bringing peace to the Middle East or the agony of plunging the region into disaster."
  • global conflicts "an award-winning educational game series used for teaching citizenship, geography, and media courses."
  • Quake Live "QUAKE LIVE is a new and innovative multiplayer game experience from id Software - the creators of DOOM, WOLFENSTEIN and QUAKE - that offers players of all skill levels an easily accessible multiplayer game and community through a single website. The game can be played totally free, though there are paid subscriptions with even more features and play modes available." (Windows XP / Vista, Internet Explorer 8+ / FireFox 3+)
  • gamestar mechanic "Gamestar Mechanic empowers kids to have fun while they explore their passion for games and game design. In addition to being a fun game, Gamestar Mechanic was also designed as a learning platform to foster the development of 21st Century skills while teaching the principles of game design."
  • Portal "Set in the mysterious Aperture Science Laboratories, players must solve physical puzzles and challenges by opening portals, maneuvering objects, and moving themselves through space in ways that used to be impossible." Clive Thompson: In Portal, Violating Physics Proves Weirdly Satisfying demo available from (unofficial flash version:
  • world of goo "World of Goo is a physics based puzzle / construction game. Drag and drop living, squirming, talking, globs of goo to build structures, bridges, cannonballs, zeppelins, and giant tongues. The millions of Goo Balls that live in the beautiful World of Goo are curious to explore - but they don't know that they are in a game, or that they are extremely delicious."


Environments for game authoring.

  • YoYo games "YoYo Games Ltd is a UK Based Game Start-up founded by games industry veterans, Sandy Duncan and Michel Cassius. YoYo Games has grown to be the world’s largest user generated game site with over 25,000 games. Employing a web 2.0 community model YoYo Games allows users to “Play, Make and Share games” for free."
  • Platinum Arts Sandbox Free 3D Game "an open source easy to use standalone 3D Game Maker and 3D Game Design program currently based on the cube 2 engine being used in many schools throughout the world that allows kids and adults to create their own video games, worlds, levels, adventures and quests, even cooperatively!"
  • Scratch "Scratch is a programming language that makes it easy to create your own interactive stories, animations, games, music, and art -- and share your creations on the web." See also ScratchEd - Scratch's educators community.
  • The Game Creators "Our easy to use game making tools do all the complex scientific stuff, leaving you to create, play and share."
  • "The <e-Adventure> platform is a research project aiming to facilitate the integration of educational games and game-like simulations in educational processes in general and Virtual Learning Environments (VLE) in particular."
  • Caspian Thinking Worlds "Thinking Worlds is a globally unique 3D engine and authoring environment. Thinking Worlds enables designers to create and publish highly immersive simulations - fast."
  • Microsoft Kodu "Kodu provides an end-to-end creative environment for designing, building, and playing your own new games. The core of the Kodu project is the programming user interface. The language is simple and entirely icon-based. Programs are composed of pages, which are broken down into rules, which are further divided into conditions and actions. Conditions are evaluated simultaneously."
  • ToonTalk "Inside of ToonTalk's animated world you will build and run all sorts of computer programs. While learning how to program you will face challenging puzzles, express your creativity, learn new ways to solve problems, and have loads of fun!"
  • Unreal Development Kit "The world’s best game engine ... Now at your fingertips. Experience the power and potential of Unreal Engine 3. Create amazing games, lifelike scenes and fantastic worlds... for free."
  • unity "Unity 3 is a game development tool that has been designed to let you focus on creating amazing games."

Long list on Simulation and Gaming Software Development Tools and Languages, from "The European Multidisciplinary Society for Modelling and Simulation Technology" (scroll down to the "games" section)