What is Game-Based Learning?


Game-based learning has gained considerable traction since 2003, when James Gee began to describe the impact of game play on cognitive development. Since then, research — and interest in — the potential of gaming on learning has exploded, as has the diversity of games themselves, with the emergence of serious games as a genre, the proliferation of gaming platforms, and the evolution of games on mobile devices. Developers and researchers are working in every area of game-based learning, including games that are goal-oriented; social game environments; non-digital games that are easy to construct and play; games developed expressly for education; and commercial games that lend themselves to refining team and group skills. Role-playing, collaborative problem solving, and other forms of simulated experiences constitute topics for further research, but are recognized for having broad applicability across a wide range of disciplines.

A few years further out, but increasingly interesting, is the creation of massively multiplayer online (MMO) games designed for learning. Like their entertainment- or training-focused counterparts (World of Warcraft, Everquest, Lord of the Rings Online, America’s Army, and others), games of this type bring many players together to work on activities that require collaborative problem-solving. Games like these are complex, and include solo as well as group content and goals that are collaborative as well as some that are competitive. They are often goal-oriented in ways that tie to a storyline or theme, but the highest levels of interaction and play require outside learning and discovery. What makes MMO games especially compelling and effective is the variety of sub-games or paths of engagement that are available to players — there are social aspects, large and small goals to work towards, often an interesting back story that sets the context, and more. Players dedicate enormous amounts of time on task pursuing the goals of these games. The problem that needs to be solved, and which is being tackled on many fronts today, is that of embedding educational content in such a way that it becomes a natural part of playing the game.

ALT-C Next Steps:

Please capture the discussion of your groups around this question in the space below:

How can we maximise the ability of Higher and Further Education institutions and their learning technology innovators to take advantage of this emerging technology and its applications?

INSTRUCTIONS: Enter your responses to the questions below. This is most easily done by moving your cursor to the end of the last item and pressing RETURN to create a new bullet point. Please include URLs whenever you can (full URLs will automatically be turned into hyperlinks; please type them out rather than using the linking tools in the toolbar).

  • Include more simulations vs. games, because simulations have more of an "experiential" quality
  • Building in more play-time into departments - kind of like how recess helps children. Less structure, more playfulness.
  • More opportunities for experimentation - a very important component of success and achievement. You may not be able to achieve something in one session, but what you learn becomes part of the journey to achievement.
  • Change the nomenclature: Simply call education software an "app" - use the energy around the terminology to promote an idea. But there is a thin line between using the energy and there being terminology prejudice.
  • Active learning. Playing a game works to human nature more than learning via lectures.
  • Authentic learning. Games are more in tune with how people naturally learn outside the classroom.
  • The nature of the game has to be relevant to the subject - i.e. a first person shooter would not be relevant to an economics course
  • Create more games that encourage failure as learning experiences - i.e. you lose in Monopoly, you still learn a valuable lesson in economics
  • Why always link learning to assessment? Games create more freedom to learn without worry or being distracted by grades.
  • Incorporate students and teachers into the game design process?

Overall Themes
-Time and money provided for experiental learning
-Changing the nomenclature, changing the perception of game-based learning. It's all about credibility.
-Incorporate more unconventional forms of learning assessment




Work of the Advisory Board previous to Sept 5


INSTRUCTIONS: Enter your responses to the questions below. This is most easily done by moving your cursor to the end of the last item and pressing RETURN to create a new bullet point. Please include URLs whenever you can (full URLs will automatically be turned into hyperlinks; please type them out rather than using the linking tools in the toolbar).

Please "sign" your contributions by marking with the code of 4 tildes (~) in a row so that we can follow up with you if we need additional information or leads to examples- this produces a signature when the page is updated, like this: - alan alan Jan 27, 2010

(1) How might this technology be relevant to the educational sector you know best?

  • your response here
  • another response here

(2) What themes are missing from the above description that you think are important?

  • I'd expect to see Alternative Reality Gaming discussed in this context. - josie.fraser josie.fraser May 18, 2011
  • Gamification and Social Gaming/the impact of mainstream online activities/practices - josie.fraser josie.fraser May 18, 2011
  • Overlaps with geolocation, mobile & location based services themes - josie.fraser josie.fraser May 18, 2011
  • another response here

(3) What do you see as the potential impact of this technology on teaching, learning, research or information management within the next five years?

  • your response here
  • another response here

(4) Do you have or know of a project working in this area?


ARGOSI: Alternate Reality Games for Orientation, Socialisation and Induction

Please share information about related projects in our Horizon Project sharing form.