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on November 12, 2011 at 6:02:34 pm

Implications for Game-based Learning


Learning Environments:

  • Teacher Guidance. The lack of teacher involvement in gameplay is another issue and no guidance was provided to students regarding important issues that are related to the state standards and objectives. Students were left alone to play with peers or alone. The weak design of the game plus lack of external guidance from teachers might have also contributed to students' poor performance, to add to the decrease of students' motivation. Some researchers (e.g., Gee, 2003, 2005; Shaeffer, 2006) call for minimal teacher guidance during implementation of the games because it is argued that game-based learning would enable students to take charge of their own learning. Our implementation model followed this minimal-external- guidance model where teachers acted solely as facilitators. However, the results of self- determination survey suggested that teachers' careful scaffolding and incorporation of the game content to class curriculum is crucial if digital game-based learning is to be successful. (Eseryel & Ge, 2010) 
  • Ethnicity. Results suggested that while students' gender or social class did not have hypothesized impact, students' ethnicity may impact their learning outcomes with educational games. Therefore, we recommend that in designing and implementing digital game-based learning environments educators have to consider cultural issues. (Eseryel & Ge, 2010)
  • Aligning Tasks with Standards. Some researchers also found that there were gaps between the testing standards and the goals of the game learning environment. Some students indicated that playing game did not help them to pass standardized tests. Further task analysis is needed to identify gaps between the test standards and the game and to improve the design by aligning knowledge, skills, and tasks of the game with the standards. (Eseryel & Ge, 2010)


Game Communities:

  • First, one size does not fit all. There is not a single game or type of game that will satisfy everyone. Instead, a diversity of games is required to fill the needs of this market.
  • Second, the games associated with Power Gamers are missing large segments of the market. As a result of this, there are a lot of missed opportunities.
  • Third, for the needs and wants of many players, the budgets for game development are not being invested according to their desires. Rather than a few big budget games, a greater diversity of challenging, yet simple games may satisfy greater numbers.
  • Together these factors contribute to a much more hospitable place for educational games, than was present in the marketplace even a few years ago. Gamers are demanding different types of games, even including games that are intellectually challenging. The commercial sector alone is unable to meet this demand, and instead must rely on collaboration from a network of contributors from academics to teachers to content experts.


Integrating Games in Classroom:

  • Choosing a Suitable Game: Prensky has put together a list of five  hundred “serious” games that can be used to teach different content. Many of these can be found at <http://www.socialimpactgames.com>, and his new book and accompanying Web site (see <http://www.gamesparentsteachers.com>) provide even more guidance on using games for learning. These games can be a good match for GBL depending on whether the explicit content is a match for the classroom content. Examples include Civilization to teach history, CSI to teach forensics and criminal justice, and SimCity to teach civil engineering and government. But they can also be a good match based on whether the underlying strategies and the game play match the content of the course. (Eck, 2006)
  • Aligning the Game with the Curriculum: Some of the studies on using games to teach mathematics made the distinction between whether a game was used as a pre-instructional strategy (for an advance organizer), a co-instructional strategy (for examples and practice of learning in a domain), or a post-instructional strategy (for assessment and synthesis). This decision is partly determined by the curriculum and partly by the game. A balance between the needs of the curriculum and the structure of the game must be achieved to avoid either compromising the learning outcomes or forcing a game to work in a way for which it is not suited. (Eck, 2006)
  • Aligning the Game with the Content:  Just as important as what is covered in the game is what is not covered. Missing topics (for games that focus on depth) and missing content within topics (for games that focus on breadth) are key issues. What prerequisite knowledge is required to interact with the game content in a way that is appropriate for the curriculum? What does the game get wrong? One of the biggest misconceptions among educators is that if a game is missing content or has inaccurate content, it cannot be used responsibly for GBL. (Eck, 2006)


Implications for Second Language Learning with Game-base Learning



  • Further studies should investigate interactivities that more closely align with the language of the game (e.g., many sports games’ voice commentary describes player actions), or give the learner deeper choices about in-game actions (e.g., many simulation and strategy games allow great agency).
  • Purushotma (2005) describes the link between player choice and goal-related incidental language learning (with remediated text glossed by images and animations) in the life simulation game “The Sims;” that game’s interactivity might lead to positive learning outcomes for the players in a replication of the current study. Continued interactivity research could utilize Sims’ (1997) taxonomy of interactivity as well as perspectives such as endogenous fantasy (Habgood, Ainsworth, & Benford, 2005) or action memory (Engelkamp, 2001). Future research should examine how interactivity helps or hinders other stages of the second language acquisition process. Studies that examine how game vocabulary is integrated with previous knowledge (i.e., how interactivity affects understanding), or is used communicatively, could greatly benefit digital game-based language learning research. Other affordances of video games (e.g., stories, play, subtitles, repetition, feedback, and visual representations of language) should continue to be examined. As well, studies should focus not only on vocabulary acquisition, but also on phonetic, syntactic, pragmatic knowledge building, and the transfer of these skills to communicative use. 


Adoption Games:

  • Commercial games can be adapted for use in second language learning and teaching, thus removing one important barrier for teachers who may not have the time and resources to develop their own games.  


Teacher's Role:


Designer's Role:

  • Some researchers acknowledge that teachers or instructors may not have the necessary technical skills (e.g., game programming, digital art) to develop a Game-based Learning environment on their own. However, by describing what is currently feasible, and by showing how gameplay aligns with accepted theoretical approaches to second language acquisition, interdisciplinary collaboration between people who do possess these skills and offer a possible road map for how this collaboration are encouraged to move this idea forward.





  • Klopfer, E., Osterweil, S., & Salen, K. (2009). Moving learning games forward. Cambridge, MA: The Education Arcade
  • De Haan, J., Reed, M., & Kuwada, K. (2010). The effect of interactivity with a music video game on second language vocabulary recall. Language Learning & Technology, 14(2), 74-94.
  • Neville, D.O. (2010). Structuring narrative in 3D digital game-based learning environments to support second language acquisition. Foreign Language Annals, 43(3), 446-469.
  • Eck, R. V. (2006) Digital game-based learning: It’s not just the digital natives who arerestless. EDUCAUSE Review, 41(2), 16-30.




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