Games and Learning/Topics/Introduction

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See the NYT magazine article on Quest to Learn:

In 2006 the MacArthur Foundation turned their attention to the design of 21st century learning environments that would respond both to the needs of kids growing up in a digital, information-rich, globally complex era prizing creativity, innovation, and resourcefulness. As part of this work, in spring 2007 New Visions for Public Schools joined forces with the Institute of Play, a games and learning non-profit, with an idea for a school that would use “game-like learning” as a way to empower and engage students from all walks of life. Quest to Learn (Q2L) is the result of this collaboration, and is specific in its focus on connecting rigorous student learning to the demands of the 21st century, supporting young people in their learning across digital networks, peer communities, content, careers, and media.

Also, see the readers' discussion with James Paul Gee.


What is the rationale for introducing games in education? What are the risks / pitfalls? What are the open questions we need to consider?


Gee, J. P. (2005), 'Learning by design: Good video games as learning machines', E-Learning and Digital Media 2 (1), 5-16.

This article asks how good video and computer game designers manage to get new players to learn long, complex and difficult games. The short answer is that designers of good games have hit on excellent methods for getting people to learn and to enjoy learning. The longer answer is more complex. Integral to this answer are the good principles of learning built into successful games. The author discusses 13 such principles under the headings of 'Empowered Learners', 'Problem Solving' and 'Understanding' and concludes that the main impediment to implementing these principles in formal education is cost. This, however, is not only or even so much monetary cost. It is, importantly, the cost of changing minds about how and where learning is done and of changing one of our most profoundly change-resistant institutions: the school.

updated version of: Gee, J. P. (2004), 'Learning by design: Games as learning machines', Interactive Educational Multimedia 8, 15-23.

Squire, K. D. (2003), 'Video games in education', Int. J. Intell. Games & Simulation 2 (1) , 49-62.

Computer and video games are a maturing medium and industry and have caught the attention of scholars across a variety of disciplines. By and large, computer and video games have been ignored by educators. When educators have discussed games, they have focused on the social consequences of game play, ignoring important educational potentials of gaming. This paper examines the history of games in educational research, and argues that the cognitive potential of games have been largely ignored by educators. Contemporary developments in gaming, particularly interactive stories, digital authoring tools, and collaborative worlds, suggest powerful new opportunities for educational media.

Iacovides, I.; Aczel, J.; Scanlon, E.; Taylor, J. & Woods, W. (2011), 'Motivation, engagement and learning through digital games', International Journal of Virtual and Personal Learning Environments 2 (2), 1-16.

Digital games can be powerful learning environments because they encourage active learning and participation within “affinity groups” Gee, 2004. However, the use of games in formal educational environments is not always successful O’Neil et al., 2005. There is a need to update existing theories of motivation and engagement in order to take recent game-related developments into account. Understanding the links between why people play games, what keeps them engaged in this process, and what they learn as a result could have a significant impact on how people value and use games for learning. This paper examines key research that relates to motivation, engagement, and informal learning through digital games, in order to highlight the need for empirical studies which examine the activities that occur in and around everyday gaming practice.

Literature reviews

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.

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.