The Use of Computer Games in Education: A Review of the Literature

The Use of Computer Games in Education: A Review of the Literature

Thomas Hainey (University of the West of Scotland, Scotland), Thomas Connolly (University of the West of Scotland, Scotland), Mark Stansfield (University of the West of Scotland, Scotland) and Liz Boyle (University of the West of Scotland, Scotland)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60960-495-0.ch002
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Games-based learning has captured the interest of educationalists as it is perceived as a potentially highly motivating approach for learning in a diverse number of areas. Despite this, there is a dearth of empirical evidence in the GBL literature, and confusion as to where games-based learning fits in relation to games, simulations, and serious games. This chapter will present a review of the current state of the GBL empirical literature, but will particularly focus on the fields of software engineering, Information Systems, and computer science. This chapter will also take into account the advantages and disadvantages that have to be considered when selecting a GBL approach.
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What Is Games-Based Learning?

This section will provide a definition of Games-Based Learning and some of the cognate terms surrounding it in the literature such as: games, simulations, computer games, simulation games, computer simulations, computer simulation games and serious games. Taking these definitions and distinctions into account, a diagram will be produced to illustrate the position of GBL to situate these terms within the literature.

The term “game” covers a very wide range of activities but, as Juul (2003) and others (e.g. Crawford, 2003) have observed, it is difficult to define in terms of necessary and sufficient features, and there is no real consensus on shared terms and their definitions. Several definitions of games have been proposed. For example, Dempsey, Haynes, Lucassen and Casey (2002) define a game as “… a set of activities involving one or more players. It has goals, constraints, payoffs, and consequences. A game is rule-guided and artificial in some respects. Finally, a game involves some aspect of competition, even if that competition is with oneself.” Grendler (1996, pp. 523) defines games as “consisting of rules that describe allowable player moves, game constraints and privileges (such as ways of earning extra turns) and penalties for illegal (non permissible) actions. Further the rules may be imaginative in that they need not relate to real world-events.” On the other hand, Caillois (1961) defines a game as “an activity that is voluntary and enjoyable, separate from the real world, uncertain, unproductive (in that the activity does not produce any goods of external value), and governed by rules.” The main characteristics of games are that they are voluntary, and typically enjoyable, physical or mental activities; they involve goals and ways of achieving these goals usually through “moves” or actions within the game that can be subject to constraints or rules; they are in some way separate from real life. Games can be played singly, in pairs or in teams. Smed and Hakonen (2003) define a computer game as “a game that is carried out with the help of a computer program.

The term “simulation” generally refers to a representation of a real system, an abstract system, an environment or a process that is electronically generated. Crookall and Saunders (1989) view a simulation as a representation of a real world system that may focus on a specific aspect of reality. Thavikulwat (1999) defines the term “simulation” as “a replicable representation of a process. The representation can be phenotypical or genotypical. If phenotypical, it is a reflection of the process; if genotypical, it is a subset. Thus, a phenotypical representation of employment would have participants employ fictitious persons; a genotypical representation would have them employ each other. Computer animation might make the phenotypical representation realistic, but it cannot make it real. Genotypical representation, however, is real.”

The term “computer simulation” has many definitions. Pritsker (1979) compiled an inventory and found twenty-one different definitions. In the largest possible sense, McLeod (1986) defines a computer simulation as “the use of computers to model things” whereas Laurillard (2002) defines it as an “artefact that embodies some model of an aspect of the real world, allows the user to make inputs to the model, runs the model and displays the results.

Complete Chapter List

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Editorial Advisory Board
Table of Contents
Richard Van Eck
Patrick Felicia
Patrick Felicia
Chapter 1
Gunilla Svingby, Elisabet M. Nilsson
The interest for game-based learning is growing among science educators. A range of research reviews have been published regarding the educational... Sample PDF
Research Review: Empirical Studies on Computer Game Play in Science Education
Chapter 2
Thomas Hainey, Thomas Connolly, Mark Stansfield, Liz Boyle
Games-based learning has captured the interest of educationalists as it is perceived as a potentially highly motivating approach for learning in a... Sample PDF
The Use of Computer Games in Education: A Review of the Literature
Chapter 3
Caroline Kearney
This chapter summarizes the main results of the comparative study, How are digital games used in schools? (European Schoolnet, April 2009)... Sample PDF
European Schoolnet1’s Games in Schools Study: The Current State of Play in European Schools and the Game Ahead
Chapter 4
René St-Pierre
Playing video games stimulates affective, cognitive, and communicational processes, thus facilitating the emergence of knowledge. In order to... Sample PDF
Learning with Video Games
Chapter 5
Jan-Paul van Staalduinen
As of yet, there is no clear relationship between game elements and deep learning. This chapter used a literature review to create an overview of 25... Sample PDF
A First Step towards Integrating Educational Theory and Game Design
Chapter 6
Damien Djaouti, Julian Alvarez, Jean-Pierre Jessel
The purpose of this chapter is to introduce an overall classification system for Serious Games. ?The intention of this classification is to guide... Sample PDF
Classifying Serious Games: The G/P/S Model
Chapter 7
Manuel Ecker, Wolfgang Müller, Johannes Zylka
This chapter introduces an approach to use best-practice experiences in terms of Design Patterns to support the development of high-quality and... Sample PDF
Game-Based Learning Design Patterns: An Approach to Support the Development of “Better” Educational Games
Chapter 8
Monica Evans
Educational games often implement educational theory, but rarely implement the best practices of entertainment game structures. Currently, many... Sample PDF
I’d Rather Be Playing Calculus: Adapting Entertainment Game Structures to Educational Games
Chapter 9
Gareth Schott, Neil Selwyn
Game playing is made possible by players’ engagement in configurative practices that work in conjunction with interpretive practices, referring to... Sample PDF
Game Literacy: Assessing its Value for Both Classification and Public Perceptions of Games in a New Zealand Context
Chapter 10
David I. Schwartz, Jessica D. Bayliss
Games have impacted education, research, and industry in multiple ways, altering notions of interaction. Traditionally, instructional design and... Sample PDF
Unifying Instructional and Game Design
Chapter 11
Nicolas Szilas, Martin Acosta
This theory is then put into practice by analyzing three commercial educational games. It constitutes a first step towards Instructional Game Design. Sample PDF
A Theoretical Background for Educational Video Games: Games, Signs, Knowledge
Chapter 12
Thomas Hainey, Thomas Connolly, Mark Stansfield, Liz Boyle
While there are some teachers who are dubious about the benefits of gaming in education, language teachers make great use of simulation/gaming... Sample PDF
ARGuing for Multilingual Motivation in Web 2.0: An Evaluation of a Large-Scale European Pilot
Chapter 13
Claire Dormann, Jennifer R. Whitson, Robert Biddle
This chapter addresses how computer games can support affective learning, taking specific focus on learning for the affective domain. It first... Sample PDF
Computer Games for Affective Learning
Chapter 14
Paul Toprac
This chapter describes how to design a motivating educational game for middle school students using digital-game based learning techniques in a... Sample PDF
Motivating By Design: Using Digital-Game Based Learning Techniques to Create an Interesting Problem-Based Learning Environment
Chapter 15
Leonard A. Annetta, Richard Lamb, Brandy Bowling, Rebecca Cheng
The critical nature of engaging students in authentic learning tasks is not a new concept, but as 21st century technologies become more pervasive in... Sample PDF
Assessing Engagement in Serious Educational Games: The Development of the Student Engaged Learning in a Technology Rich Interactive Classroom (SELTIC)
Chapter 16
Menno Deen, Ben A.M. Schouten
To accomplish this fit, game designers could not conceal the learning within a game, but explicitly communicate the constructed knowledge to the... Sample PDF
Games that Motivate to Learn: Design Serious Games by Identified Regulations
Chapter 17
Nicola Whitton
This chapter considers motivation from the adult learning perspective, specifically in the context of Higher Education. It is common for the... Sample PDF
Theories of Motivation for Adults Learning with Games
Chapter 18
Iro Voulgari, Vassilis Komis
In this chapter a theoretical framework is proposed for the investigation of Massively Multiplayer Online Games (MMOGs) as environments for the... Sample PDF
Collaborative Learning in Massively Multiplayer Online Games: A Review of Social, Cognitive and Motivational Perspectives
Chapter 19
Daniel Aranda, Jordi Sánchez-Navarro
This study presents the results of three investigations on the use of digital gaming in non-formal (leisure institutions) and informal (household... Sample PDF
How Digital Gaming Enhances Non-Formal and Informal Learning
Chapter 20
Priscilla Haring, Dimitrina Chakinska, Ute Ritterfeld
This chapter argues the importance of understanding the process of serious gaming, i.e. playing a game with a purpose other than solely... Sample PDF
Understanding Serious Gaming: A Psychological Perspective
Chapter 21
Flaithrí Neff, Ian Pitt
Game technology often offers solutions to problems that are difficult or impossible to solve in traditional educational settings. Maturing spatial... Sample PDF
Using Spatial Audio in Game Technology for Expressing Mathematical Problems to Blind Students
Chapter 22
Namsoo Shin, Cathleen Norris, Elliot Soloway
This study was conducted to investigate the relationship of students’ attitude toward mathematics, attitude toward a game, gaming performance... Sample PDF
Mobile Gaming Environment: Learning and Motivational Effects
Chapter 23
Eva Hudlicka
Games are being increasingly used for educational and training purposes, because of their unique ability to engage students, and to provide... Sample PDF
Affective Gaming in Education, Training and Therapy: Motivation, Requirements, Techniques
Chapter 24
Roman Danylak
Emerging game interface design increasingly incorporates human gestural learning. Electronic gestural games, when effectively designed, offer high... Sample PDF
Gestural Motivation, Learning and Evaluation using Interactive Game Design
Chapter 25
Jean-Charles Marty, Thibault Carron
In this chapter, the authors propose to address two main items contributing to motivation in Game-Based Learning Environments: the flexibility of... Sample PDF
Hints for Improving Motivation in Game-Based Learning Environments
Chapter 26
Eugenia M. W. Ng
The gender differences have long been an issue in computer games, but there is very little empirical research on the behavior and performance of... Sample PDF
Exploring the Gender Differences of Student Teachers when using an Educational Game to Learn Programming Concepts
Chapter 27
Penny de Byl, Jeffrey E. Brand
The objective of this chapter is to develop guidelines for targeted use of games in educational settings by presenting a typology of learning... Sample PDF
Designing Games to Motivate Student Cohorts through Targeted Game Genre Selection
Chapter 28
Krestina L. Amon, Andrew J. Campbell
Whilst biofeedback video games are still new to AD/HD treatment options, this Chapter demonstrates that with children growing up in a... Sample PDF
Game-Based Learning: Current Research in Games for Health, a Focus on Biofeedback Video Games as Treatment for AD/HD
Chapter 29
Stephanie B. Linek
Game-based learning is based on the idea of using the motivational potential of video games within the educational context. Thus, when designing an... Sample PDF
As You Like It: What Media Psychology Can Tell Us About Educational Game Design
Chapter 30
John Carr, Peter Blanchfield
Computer games offer an extremely engaging experience and are an overwhelmingly popular pastime for today’s youth. As such, they make an attractive... Sample PDF
Engaging the Un-Engageable
Chapter 31
Dennis Maciuszek, Alke Martens
Educational computer games may improve learning experiences and learning outcomes. However, many off-the-shelf games still fail at smoothly... Sample PDF
A Reference Architecture for Game-Based Intelligent Tutoring
Chapter 32
Joel C. Perry, Julien Andureu, Francesca Irene Cavallaro, Jan Veneman, Stefan Carmien, Thierry Keller
Games possess highly favourable attributes to bring to the field of neurorehabilitation by means of providing motivation and goal-directed exercise... Sample PDF
Effective Game use in Neurorehabilitation: User-Centered Perspectives
Chapter 33
Stephen Howell, Tony Veale
Serious games, especially word-based games, have long been popular in print and in modern computer games. Bringing serious word games into the... Sample PDF
Serious Linguistic Games as Intelligent Tutoring Systems
Chapter 34
Maria Saridaki, Constantinos Mourlas
Findings from the educational literature and experimental observations, as well as case studies from field studies will be presented and discussed... Sample PDF
Motivating the Demotivated Classroom: Gaming as a Motivational Medium for Students with Intellectual Disability and their Educators
Chapter 35
Wolfgang Bösche, Florian Kattner
This chapter reports on the transformation of a classical seminar paper presentation course into a completely virtual classroom experience beginning... Sample PDF
Field Report: Using a Violent Multiplayer Game as a Virtual Classroom for a Course on Violent Video Games
Chapter 36
Professor Neil Anderson, Lyn Courtney
This chapter describes an educational intervention to introduce and develop design thinking skills with two groups of Australian Indigenous high... Sample PDF
Students Using Indigenous Knowledge in Video Game Creation to Develop Design Thinking Skills
Chapter 37
Eleni Rossiou
Higher Education could be seen as an ideal field for the development and wide use of modern technologies and pedagogical methods of cooperative and... Sample PDF
Integration of Educational Games in Synchronous Virtual Classroom: A Case Study
Chapter 38
Ben Williamson, Richard Sandford
Game-based learning is proliferating in formal school classrooms, yet to date there is relatively little evidence to demonstrate its benefits. This... Sample PDF
Playful Pedagogies: Cultural and Curricular Approaches to Game-Based Learning in the School Classroom
Chapter 39
Wee Hoe Tan, Sue Johnston-Wilder, Sean Neill
This chapter is an instance of the deployment of game-based learning (GBL) in an upper secondary school in the UK. A retrospective case study was... Sample PDF
Game-Based Learning with a Dialogic Teaching Approach: A Case of Deep Learning and the Use of SporeTM in A-Level Biology Lessons
Chapter 40
Ryan Flynn
The use of computer and video games in education is not a new phenomenon. However, the use of commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) games, specifically... Sample PDF
Modifying Commercial Off-The-Shelf (COTS) Games for Use in Education
Chapter 41
Arul Chib
The spread of contagious STDs, HIV/AIDS, and unintended pregnancies amongst marginalized youth in developing nations is a source of concern. This... Sample PDF
Promoting Sexual Health Education via Gaming: Evidence from the Barrios of Lima, Peru
Chapter 42
Vinod Srinivasan, Karen Butler-Purry, Susan Pedersen
This chapter presents an experience with the development of an educational game focusing on digital systems design for undergraduate electrical... Sample PDF
Developing Educational Games for Engineering Education: A Case Study
Chapter 43
Kostas Anagnostou, Anastasia Pappa
This chapter reviews the potential of videogames to enhance physics education, and provide guidelines for designing educational videogames that... Sample PDF
Developing Videogames for Physics Education
Chapter 44
Helen Axe, Helen Routledge
There exists a growing body of evidence which supports the use of serious games in education: highlighting increased motivation, engagement, and... Sample PDF
Practical Applications of Serious Games in Education
Chapter 45
Dimitra Pappa, Ian Dunwell, Aristidis Protopsaltis, Lucia Pannese, Sonia Hetzner, Sara de Freitas, Genaro Rebolledo-Mendez
The increasing pervasiveness of digital technology is having a profound effect on how younger generations interact, play, and learn. The use of... Sample PDF
Game-Based Learning for Knowledge Sharing and Transfer: The e-VITA Approach for Intergenerational Learning
Chapter 46
Anna Åkerfeldt, Staffan Selander
The aim of this chapter is to explore two educational video games as a repository for action and meaning-making. Rixdax and El Patron feature two... Sample PDF
Exploring Educational Video Game Design: Meaning Potentials and Implications for Learning
Chapter 47
Nicola Lettieri, Ernesto Fabiani, Antonella Tartaglia Polcini, Rosario De Chiara, Vittorio Scarano
Over the last years, despite few exceptions, legal education has dropped behind in the use of digital game-based learning methods. Law schools... Sample PDF
Emerging Paradigms in Legal Education: A Learning Environment to Teach Law through Online Role Playing Games
Chapter 48
Sahar Shabanah
Data structures and algorithms are important foundation topics in computer science education. However, they are often complex and hard to... Sample PDF
Computer Games for Algorithm Learning
Chapter 49
Vasiliki Dai, Vasilis Daloukas, Maria Rigou, Spiros Sirmakessis
A discussion regarding the integration of video games in education has been going on lately. Recent studies indicate a positive shift in attitude... Sample PDF
Context-Free Educational Games: Open-Source and Flexible
Chapter 50
Andrea Corradini
This chapter explores the use of a set of 2D recreational puzzle games for training basic spatial skills such as tilting, rotating and flipping. An... Sample PDF
A Study on Whether Digital Games can Effect Spatial Reasoning Skills
Chapter 51
Brent D. Ruben, Kathleen M. Immordino, Sherrie Tromp, Brian Agnew
Leadership and leadership development have become increasingly frequent topics of discussion in popular, professional, and academic discourse. There... Sample PDF Using Interactive Scenario-Based Simulations for Leadership Development
Chapter 52
Boaventura DaCosta, Angelique Nasah, Carolyn Kinsell, Soonhwa Seok
There is a growing interest among educators to use video games in the classroom as part of the curriculum to meet the educational needs of today’s... Sample PDF
Digital Propensity: An Investigation of Video Game and Information and Communication Technology Practices
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