Connecting dots for digital learning and teaching

Game Design as An Effective Pedagogy

Engaging your students in games and game design doesn’t require you to be an expert. Learning Games Network(LGN), a non-profit spin-off of the MIT Education Arcade and the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Games+Learning+Society Program, with FableVision, a Boston-based digital media production company, have developed a free Game Design Tool Kit(GDTK) for educators.

Whether your aim is to work with students to create paper-based games or digital game concepts, the GDTK cards and discussion prompts are designed to support a wide variety of game concepts. Final assignments range from completed Game Design Journals to fully developed design documents, playable paper prototypes, and/or class presentations.

It provides a game design framework to let you integrate the game mechanism into your curriculum either it’s for the weeks or semester-long projects. This tool kit is to help educators reach their educational goals, not about using any specific digital tools. The process of game design looks very similar to thoughtful research and and creative development activities you likely already incorporate into your teaching. And it’s an excellent activity to build students’ capability for successful team work. This guide is also the basis that LGN used to design their learning games.

game design as an effective pedagogy

Structuring a game design concept starts from the working title, students will put on their marketing hats to come out cool names that might resonate with their audience , and the game story is the main body to engage learners and integrate designer’s intentions and messages. The development of the game story involves all team members — artists, writers, musicians, and others. Then, a game structure should be created to give details about learning goals and challenges of several levels, points for achievements, player roles and communities, necessary information and navigation/map, end goals. After these, all designers will craft the player experience of every step in the journey. In the collaboration, each individual can play a role by focusing on what they like and what they’re good at, whether that’s research, writing, graphic design or illustration, music production or remix, technical awareness, or project management. A completed game design document ranges between 20-30 pages with diagrams, flow charts, user interface samples, and other schematics that enable the reader to better visualize a concept.

Starting from asking “What do you want to learn/help others learn?” This tool kit gives you step-by-step instructions that walks you through how to use game design as an effective pedagogy. You can go to LGN website and download the handbook and supplemental materials for free. There is professional development programs available too, and more resources are on the way.


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Categorised in: Constructivism, Game-Based Learning

9 Responses »

  1. Thanks for the coverage, Jessie! What’s great about the tool kit is how—just like in game design—we’ll have the freedom to continually iterate and improve the resource. We’re excited to see how teachers use it!


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“Tell me and I will forget, show me and I may remember, involve me and I will understand.” -------- Chinese Wisdom "Games are the most elevated form of investigation." -------- Albert Einstein
"I'm calling for investments in educational technology that will help create digital tutors that are as effective as personal tutors, educational software as compelling as the best video game," President Barack Obama said while touring a tech-focused Boston school (year 2011).
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