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on November 13, 2011 at 9:35:03 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) (deHaan, Reed & Kuwada, 2010).
  • 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 (deHaan, Reed & Kuwada, 2010)


Instructional Design:

  • Designers of educational games for the teaching of foreign languages should consider the type of interactivity they are requiring from their users. The incorporation of additional ludic (e.g., cooperative or competitive modes of play) or social tasks (e.g., recording and sharing video of gameplay) may foster better attention and processing of the game’s language.  However, designers of those media should also carefully consider the degree and type of interaction they require from their users in order to avoid overwhelming them. Purushotma, Thorne and Wheatley (2008) offer numerous principles for the design of digital games for language learning (deHaan, Reed & Kuwada, 2010)
  • 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. 


Implications for self study:

  • Students use a variety of media to autonomously learn a foreign language. As video games continue to gain popularity, it seems likely that learners will import or download foreign language games. Students should realize that not all video games are useful for language learning; they should choose their study materials carefully. If students want to use a game like Parappa the Rapper 2, they should be aware of the difficulty in balancing their attention between gameplay and language (deHaan, Reed & Kuwada, 2010).
  • Students may not be as overwhelmed as the players in this study by: repeating levels, taking breaks between sessions, using notes and dictionaries, recording their play to watch later, consulting online forums and guides, and playing with friends (perhaps alternating and discussing the game and its language after each turn). Video games used in conjunction with learner strategies may be more beneficial than this experimental study’s controlled play and tasks. Students, for example, may choose a game of a different genre than the game used in this study (deHaan, Reed & Kuwada, 2010).


Implications for pedagogy:

  • Because of students’ enjoyment of video games, language teachers may be interested in using games in their classrooms. While games do contain a wealth of comprehensible language,  teachers should carefully consider the interactivity of the games they want to use in class and design pedagogical strategies for scaffolding students’ play and language learning with mindfully- selected games. Teachers may like to choose a game of a different genre than the game used in this study. Scaffolds might be used before, during or after gameplay (deHaan, Reed & Kuwada, 2010).
  • As Land and Hannafin (1997) have suggested that it cannot be safely assumed that simply dropping students into a DGBL environment will produce the types of pedagogical results that we expect. Rather, these virtual environments should be carefully introduced into the curriculum either by scaffolding them into existing, more familiar, instructional approaches or by designing instruction exclusively around the game experience so that game activity can be seamlessly blended with classroom activity and homework assignments (Purushotma, 2005; Roschelle, Pea, Hoadley, Gordin, & Means, 2000).  An example of possible scaffolded use of DGBL in a SLA curriculum is described in Figure 1. (Neville, Shelton, & Mclnnis, 2009) 

Figure 1: Possible scaffolded use of DGBL in a SLA curriculum. (Neville, Shelton, & Mclnnis, 2009)



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.  




  • Klopfer, E., Osterweil, S., & Salen, K. (2009). Moving learning games forward. Cambridge, MA: The Education Arcade
  • deHaan, 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.
  •  Purushotma, R., Thorne, S., & Wheatley, J. (2008). 10 Key principles for designing video games for foreign language learning. Open Language & Learning Games Project, Massachusetts Institute of Technology Education Arcade. 
  • Neville, D., Shelton, B., & McInnis, B. (2009). Cybertext redux: Using digital game-based learning toteach L2 vocabulary, reading, and culture. Computer Assisted Language Learning, 22(5), 409-424. 




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