Hello Teachers/Educators! I'm a game designer wanting to ask what matters to you in games for learning environments.

Learning and Educational games have become two separate game styles. Some are better at engagement or fostering deep understanding with a topic. Some are geared toward strict curriculum, while others softly push students to explore a topic.

Many claim to be fun and loved by students while others are clung to by teachers for a game's basis in research. Sometimes teacher and student interests are at odds, where it's great there are no golden solutions.

It's a new field formed over the last few decades and I'm interested in what matters to you in games intended for learning. Feel free to send me a message or email on this topic.

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It really depends on the audience, the learning objectives, and the content itself.  I've taught in academia and in the private sector (health care), and the games that I would use in my tech college classes would be very different than the ones I used to train doctors in a clinical setting. 

A universal "need" would be 1) ease of use, and 2) accessibility.  Learners tune out really quickly if the game is not intuitive and has a logical flow (not to be confused with "easy to play").  Accessibility is huge.  The cool thing about games is the ability to take repeated attempts and learn from failure.  It seems like a lot of instructional games negate this and only give users 1 attempt (just like a final exam).  I would really want to see a game that is accessible and that gave students multiple attempts.  A good example that I've seen working in healthcare is Septris from Stanford. 

Perhaps all the teachers that have used games successfully in their classroom, myself included, might list them with any helpful comments? Maybe even suggest games they'd like to use but can't and reasons for that?

Thanks Andrew and Scott for replying. Andrew brings up a big point on more universal needs and sounds like you're familiar with accessibility issues. Could you share moments in your experience where access and freedom to fail were out of balance? Universal needs are a perfect item to start, if anyone could share from their experience.

Scott, you said there are games you'd like to put into action but can't. That means there are barriers of use for teachers aside from students. How have you have used games? What's your experience like?

I really want to provide a well thought out reply to this. Winter break starts thus weekend and I will be providing my list of software with pros & cons. I teach science and a game design class that caters to the writer and artist.  With a minimal budget I have gleaned the best free and low cost options that are still exciting from the perspective of the student. Stay tuned!


Hi Brandon.  I developed a simulation (using game mechanics and avatars) to train clinical staff how to use their electronic med record system (EMR).  There are multiple scenarios that are conducted on fake patients in a fake EMR.  Long story short, the users/students can only play the scenarios once.  Without going into  to much detail, the patients in the training environments can only be used once a day (example: once Jane Doe is admitted to the hospital, you can't readmit her till the environments refresh).  Users/students like the game, it's fun and effective, but once they're done, they're done. It's easy to use, highly interactive, safe (they get a buzzer and instant feedback if they do something wrong) and immerses the users in the experience, but there is no repetition. Like Brue Lee said, "Learn it till you forget it". 

In terms of accessibility, it can only be accessed onsite (at work), and are intended to be used in F2F classes.  So if users/learners want to practice outside of class (where the majority of learning really happens), these simulations would not be suitable.  Ideally, there would be a stand alone version that users could play whenever they wanted, asynchronously.  A mobile app version would be great (our providers are all issued iphones). 

As an educator I can say without hesitation and near absolute confidence, that there is a HUGE market for a 'World Peace Game' alternative.  We have been waiting for years now and there is no instruction manual or boxed curriculum available. Only limited training opportunities. A version that is either web based or printed materials that could be stored easily.  Suitable for high school use, smaller groups, adjustable durations....

if it was a computer game it'd be a combination of civ and sim city?

HI Brandon,

I really like when students can manipulate an environment to create things. I love that games naturally lend themselves to critical thinking and development. However, if a game can have an aspect where students have budgets design constraints etc. Yet still ned to build successful products. This leads to very valuable learning. 




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