Game Based Learning

We are talking here about a special kind of fun ...
"hard fun."
Seymour Papert
What is it?
Game Based Learning (GBL) is the use of games for learning. This may involve using games that have specific learning outcomes and objectives, designing games, or learning from commercial games that were not originally designed for that purpose.
Why is it important to have in the classroom?
What makes games fun, ultimately, is the learning that happens in them. Learning is more than rote memorization, it is the development of skills and understanding. Games are particularly suited for engaging students in skill development or new contexts for an extended period of time

How does it support intrinsic motivation and ownership?
High quality GBL draws us into contexts that feel highly relevant and give us a great deal of autonomy within that context. As we play the game, we develop skills as a side effect of the game play, not as the end goal.
This is in contrast to so-called games that have skill development (such as addition) as the clear end goal of the game and the game play (clicking or shooting) is incidental.  These games are known as chocolate covered broccoli.
What does it look like in practice?
There are many ways that GBL can be used for learning. In Alternate Reality Games, students are asked to role play a context that forces them to gain skills in an authentic context. For example, in one community college, business students were sent out to study local restaurants and came back with a deeper understanding of inventory, cash flow, and more.
Commercial games such as Minecraft are often used by teachers in teaching mathematics to young students. The combination of virtual manipulatives and an environment where the students already have had experiences of success support better learning of early mathematics.
In literature, games can serve as texts to be deconstructed and analyzed in much the same way as books, but with the advantage that they are truly interactive, leading to more active learning.