Game based learning (GBL) is a type of game play that has defined learning outcomes. Generally, game based learning is designed to balance subject matter with gameplay and the ability of the player to retain and apply said subject matter to the real world.
Game based learning describes an approach to teaching, where students explore relevant aspect of games in a learning context designed by teachers. Teachers and students collaborate in order to add depth and perspective to the experience of playing the game.
Good game-based learning applications can draw us into virtual environments that look and feel familiar and relevant.
Within an effective game-based learning environment, we work toward a goal, choosing actions and experiencing the consequences of those actions along the way. We make mistakes in a risk-free setting, and through experimentation, we actively learn and practice the right way to do things. This keeps us highly engaged in practicing behaviors and thought processes that we can easily transfer from the simulated environment to real life.
While similar, gamification is a different breed of learning experience. Gamification takes game elements (such as points, badges, leaderboards, competition, achievements) and applies them to a non-game setting. It has the potential to turn routine, mundane tasks into refreshing, motivating experiences.
Here's a GBL checklist for educators.