Game-Based Learning (GBL) is an emerging educational medium that employs video games to increase students’ skills, their level of awareness, and their motivation to learn.

GBL has evolved considerably during the last decades, in terms of theoretical models and applications, and is gaining increasing recognition among a wide range of sectors including formal education and corporate training. This significant change has been supported by new and more accessible gaming technologies, and the advent of educational theories that promote a constructive approach to learning, and acknowledge motivation and personal differences as determining factors for successful learning.

However, despite a growing body of knowledge on educational video games, there is still a need for more rigorous experiments in order to define frameworks that guarantee systematic learning and motivation. Without solid theoretical foundations, and universal guidelines on how to design and use video games in educational settings, it will be difficult to obtain all the benefits that these games can offer.

Several successful GBL solutions have been produced to date, and researchers have made substantial findings which have furthered the understanding of the intricate factors that affect learning and motivation in video games. Nonetheless, many challenges lie ahead:

  • More developers need to be informed of best practices pertaining to the design of successful educational games.
  • More educators need to be aware of the educational potential of video games. They need to understand how this medium can be used successfully to consistently motivate and instruct learners.
  • Stakeholders involved in funding and identifying relevant educational solutions (e.g., company owners, policy-makers, or managers) should be informed accordingly, so that they understand the economical and managerial implications of GBL. This should enable them to make informed decisions, thereby supporting instructors and learners with relevant structures and resources.
  • Educational video games should be envisaged through a multidisciplinary approach, and be designed accordingly by multidisciplinary teams including experts in game design, instructional design, and psychology.
  • Researchers should avoid the mistakes of the past and create educational applications that truly tap into the motivational and emotional potential of video games; educational games should also account for curricular learning objectives. These two conditions are crucial for the adoption of GBL by both instructors and students.
  • More practical recommendations on how to use GBL systems are needed. Whereas many publications on GBL report on experiments and theoretical models, very few manage to provide simple and practical guidelines that designers and instructors can easily follow and apply.
  • GBL systems should follow a user-centered approach to learning, and acknowledge personal differences at both cognitive and affective levels. It is only by providing personalized emotional and cognitive experiences to users (e.g., characters, scenarios, or learning interventions) that reproducible and sustainable results will be achieved.

To address some of these challenges and expand the existing body of knowledge on GBL, Dr. Patrick Felicia decided to launch a a series of publication projects, workshops, and keynotes to compile current research in GBL, to provide a comprehensive yet practical explanation of GBL, and to analyze the multiple factors, including design, development, integration, and evaluation, that contribute to both learning and motivation in video games This blog is part of this initiative and includes information, discussions,  links and resources on GBL