Effective Educational Games

Effective Educational Games

Louise Sauvé
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61520-731-2.ch002
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This chapter argues that although educational games have not always been taken seriously, they are forms of play that offer strong interactive communication support and should be a component of 21st century education. It reports on a systematic review of studies highlighting the game elements that support motivation and learning: repetition, learning content segmentation, feedback, challenge and competition, active participation in learning, teamwork, and interaction, and illustrates these mechanisms with examples.
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Before discussing game mechanisms and learning, we define what we understand by learning and motivation.


“Game” and “learning” are terms that are regularly linked in the research literature. Games are studied from multiple perspectives in connection with knowledge acquisition and transfer; they are considered as favoring learning (described as tools for active participation by the learner, knowledge structuring and integration, information gathering and communication, etc.), or, conversely, as obstacles to learning. To unravel this controversy, we must understand what we mean by learning through games.

Learning is the acquisition of knowledge, attitudes and skills with the help of experience, practice, or study. Learning is a particularly complex act; a learning situation includes not only a specific environment, but also a person’s individual characteristics. Learning means not only modifying behavior, but also, and especially, changing the meaning which we give to our experience. Cognitive psychology helps us to better understand the active role played by the person in a learning situation, as much in the effectiveness of his learning strategies as in the representations used to give meaning to activity. The socioconstructivist approach also demonstrates the important roles of both knowledge organization in memory and social interactions in the elaboration of new knowledge. All these aspects of learning are supported in an effective educational game.

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