Game-based learning

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Draft 1

Editors: Rosa Maria Bottino and Michela Ott, ITD-CNR, Genoa



"Game-based learning" refers to teaching-learning actions carried out in formal and/or informal educational settings by adopting games. It encompasses the use of both games designed expressly for fulfilling learning objectives (educational games) and "mainstream games" -- i.e. those games that are developed for fun when used to pursue learning objectives (Kirriemuir and McFarlane, 2004 p.19).

A characterization of the term from a design perspective is:

"1. Having learning driven by personally meaningful scenarios;
2. Constructing problems to extend previous understandings and shape future ones;
3. Paying close attention to users' pre-existing beliefs;
4. Carefully designing for what the user experiences from moment to moment; and
5. Situating facts and knowledge in the context of doing."
::(Squire 2005 p.26)

Translation issues

Italiano: giochi educativi
German: lernspiel
French: apprentissage par le jeu

Disciplinary issues

The term has a very long tradition in theory and practice of pedagogy and psychology, although in its original meaning it was not expressly related to computer games (Martens et al, 2008). It has evolved towards a synonym of "Digital game-based learning", that is it refers to the use of digital games for learning purposes (Pivec, 2007; Prensky, 2001).

"Game-based learning environment" has a tight relation with the concept of "Serious games". Following some researchers the former is considered as a sub-category of the latter, following others they are considered synonymous. Considering them synonymous is correlative to a broad definition of learning as "any form of change in a person brought about by external measures such as (educational) games" (Breuer and Bente 2010, p.8)

Key references

Breuer J., Bente G. [1] (2010). Why so serious? On the relation of serious games and learning. Eludamos, Journal of Computer Game Culture, 4 (1) 7-24.

Kirriemuir J., McFarlane A. [2] (2004). Literature Review in Games and Learning Report 8 : Futurelab Series. 39 pages.

Klopfer et al [3](2009) "Moving learning games forward", Education Arcade paper (research report. 58 pages.

Moreno-Ger, P. et al., [4] (2008) Educational game design for online education, Computers in Human Behavior, doi:10.1016/j.chb.2008.03.012

Pivec M., [5] (2007) Editorial: Play and learn: potentials of game-based learning; British Journal of Educational Technology Vol 38 No 3 pp. 387-393

Prensky, M. [6] (2001). Digital game based learning. New York: McGraw-Hill. 442 pages.

Squire K., [7] (2005) Game-Based Learning: Present and Future State of the Field, coll. «An x-Learn Perspective Paper».

Related terms

Digital game-based learning, Edutainment, Epistemic games, Game-based learning environment, Serious games

Related documents

Mcfarlane et al. [8] (2002) Report on the educational use of games. A TEEM report.

Prensky M. [9] (2001) The digital game-based learning revolution - Chapter 1

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