Game-based learning

There are two main approaches to incorporating game play into your course:

⦿ Games Based Learning (‘Serious Games’) are complete games with ‘serious’ intentions. Teachers can utilise pre-existing games or design a game from scratch. These could be card or board games, simulations, point and click games, escape rooms, role playing games or even augmented reality games.

⦿ Gameful design/gamification introduces game play elements to existing learning platforms or content in order to intrinsically motivate and engage the learner.

More information about gamification


*Well designed* games can:

⦿ Increase student engagement
⦿ Provide instant feedback
⦿ Intrinsically motivate
⦿ Stimulate decision making and problem solving
⦿ Prompt behavioural change
⦿ Contribute to skill development
⦿ Capture complex theoretical concepts and social phenomena
⦿ Encourage application of knowledge
⦿ Help students to learn by doing
⦿ Provide experiential learning


⦿ Agree your learning objectives and the exact time allocated for the game at the start.

⦿ Be realistic about the length of time you have to play in class, especially if there are post game activities.

⦿ Design a game with your objectives and restrictions in mind rather than try to adapt a game to fit.

⦿ Work towards the worst case scenario time-wise and give yourself room to stretch. 

⦿ Play-test as much as you can especially with your target audience to ensure that you are on the right track.

⦿ Give yourself an early deadline to stop designing your game.  Aim to finish designing the game with sufficient time to create and order game pieces and supporting materials.

At the LSE

‘Game of research’ board game: Kay Inckle, Sociology

Blog post

Reading and Resources

Game-based learning at UK universities

Molecules in Minecraft – University of Hull.
Available at: [Accessed 26 July 2018].

Reynolds, C. (2016). The Bourdieu game. [Blog] Research blog of the Huddersfield Centre for Research in Education and Society.
Available at: [Accessed 20 Feb. 2017].


Csikszentmihalyi, M. (1990). Flow : the psychology of optimal experience. New York: Harper & Row.

Dweck, C.S.(2000). Self-theories: Their role in motivation, personality, and development. Psychology Press.

Moseley, A. & Whitton, N. (eds.) (2013). New Traditional Games for Learning: A Case Book. Routledge: New York.

Whitton, N. & Moseley, A. (eds.) (2012). Using Games to Enhance Learning and Teaching: A Beginner’s Guide, Routledge: New York.

Journals and online publications

Egenfeldt-Nielsen, S. (2005). Beyond Edutainment: Exploring the Educational Potential of Computer Games. IT-University Copenhagen.

Egenfeldt-Nielsen, S. (2011). What Makes a Good Learning Game? Going beyond edutainment. eLearn Magazine. [online]
Available at: [Accessed 20 Feb. 2017].

Gameful Design. (2012). [Blog] Superbetter Blog.
Available at: [Accessed 20 Feb. 2017].

Howard-Jones, P., Jay, T., Mason, A. and Jones, H. (2016). Gamification of Learning Deactivates the Default Mode Network. Frontiers in Psychology, [online] 6.
Available at: [Accessed 20 Feb. 2017].

Moseley, A. (2012). An Alternate Reality for Education?: Lessons to be Learned from Online Immersive Games. International Journal of Game-Based Learning (IJGBL), 2(3), pp.32-50.

Secker, J. (2016). Do games improve learning? Jane tells us more…. [Blog] LSE LTI Blog.
Available at: [Accessed 20 Feb. 2017].

TED talks

Csikszentmihalyi, M. (2004). Flow, the secret to happiness. [online]
Available at: [Accessed 21 Feb. 2017].

McGonigal, J. (2010). Gaming can make a better world. [online]
Available at: [Accessed 21 Feb. 2017].


Many games researchers cite Nakamura and Csikszentmihalyi’s flow theory when explaining the power of game play. Flow (also called ‘optimal experience’ or being ‘in the zone’) describes “…the state in which people are so involved in an activity that nothing else seems to matter; the experience itself is so enjoyable that people will do it even at great cost, for the sheer sake of doing it.”

Escape room resources

Breakout EDU. (n.d.). [online] Breakout EDU.
Available at: [Accessed 21 Feb. 2017].

Design your own Educational Escape Room | Disruptive Media Learning Lab. (n.d.). [online]
Available at: [Accessed 21 Feb. 2017].