EdTech Insight: Impact of Game-Based Learning on Students

‘Learning’ means the attainment of skills and thought processes necessary for responding suitably in times of need, under various situations. Learning does not mean simply memorizing books. William Butler Yeats has rightly commented ‘Education is not 

the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire’. It is high time that we should realize this truth and take steps to put forth efficient and interactive experiences that can influence and dynamically employ us in the learning curriculum. This is exactly where game-based learning fits in with incorporation of educational games.

There are several implications in delivering gaming experiences in education and training. Almost 170 million people in U.S. played computer and videogames in 2008, with the expenditure of a record $11.7 billion. It thus becomes evident that well-designed games have the potential for achievement of specific learning goals, with the generation of a group of exceedingly provoked learners who are enthusiastic in engaging with and practicing in application of problem-solving skills. It is due to the implications of well-designed games that have led more than 11 million subscribers to spend an average of 23 hours within a week being engrossed in a World of Warcraft. Nevertheless, it becomes apparent that the factors that make well-designed games to be greatly stimulating also seem to play a role in making them ideal learning environments.

Effective game-based learning

In an educational environment, all types of educational games are explicitly designed to meet certain educational purposes like teaching people about certain subjects, growing concepts, reinforcing growth, understanding an historical event or culture, or assisting them in learning skill while they play.  Nowadays, there are many games like ‘God of War’ which teach about Greek legends and ‘We the jury’ which teach about legal cases. Higher education is on its way for extensive integration of all sorts of games like Simulation Based Games, Massively Multiplayer Online games, Alternate Reality Games, Serious Games that happen on real world social issues, within the classroom environment.

Good game-based learning applications can bring us into realistic environments that tend to look and feel familiar and relevant. Dr. Susan Ambrose, Director of Carnegie Mellon’s Eberly Center for Teaching Excellence said that game-based learning tend to be inspirational since we can envisage and understand the relation that exists between the learning experience and our real life work at a fast pace.
Within an effective game-based learning environment, we work towards an objective, selecting actions and experiencing the consequences of those events all through the way.  We are likely to make faults in a risk-free environment, and by means of experimentation, we seem to actually learn and practice the right way to perform things. No doubt, this makes us in keeping greatly employed in working behaviors and thought processes that we shift from the virtual environment to real life without any difficulty. In game-based environments, we learn not only the particulars, but also the significant, fundamental ways and reasons.  This consideration of deeper, more hypothetical values prepares us to for working repeatedly and efficiently, even in new and unforeseen circumstances. Game-based learning provides adaptability for more than one learning style, and can also affect the cognitive and psychomotor skills.

A team at the National Foundation for Education Research took a glance of the evidence of game-based learning and its possible impact on education and knowledge. The report of the team drew its attention on a range of sources, including empirical, practice-based evidence and more tentative literature, published from 2006 onwards and it became relevant every time that those video games can create a positive impact on problem solving skills, motivation and engagement. However, researchers found it was indistinct whether this impact could be continued over time. The report also provided information for teachers about the method for the integration of games into their teaching by using it within a clear academic process and also by making the academic content integral to the game rather than as an add-on. There were also recommendations for senior leaders who are eager to support the use of game-based learning in their schools.

Designing game environments

All games are not designed in the same manner. While learning through games can be very effective, they can become a disruption, and thus seem to make one too much concentrated on the games and not on the learning.
Furthermore, the games we tend to give up are actually the ones that let us down with respect to learning.  They seem to do a bad job in structuring our learning experience, and leave us to feel uninterested or upset.  Thus, game environments need to be prepared around how we learn, in order to prove to be efficient, and this is exactly where teachers and parents play a vital role.  Carnegie Mellon’s Eberly Center for Teaching Excellence has combined a few basic principles that represent the learning methodology.  A few key principles in learning methodology are given here:

Principle 1: Students’ earlier awareness can help or hamper learning.
Principle 2: Students’ enthusiasm leads to the decision, guidance and sustenance of their performance for learning.
Principle 3: For developing mastery, students must gain constituent skills, put into practice in integrating them, and learn when to make an application what they have learned.
Principle 4: Objective-targeted performance along with targeted comment improves the worth of students’ learning.

Impact of game-based learning

It is through learning that a player makes a progress in a game.  It is the ability of the human mind to grasp and understand a new system.  The progress of comprehending a new concept through gaming makes an individual feel a sense of reward whether the game is meant for entertainment or seriousness. Well-designed games that can motivate players make them ideal for learning environments. An individual gets the opportunity to face real-world challenges more easily within a game containing efficient and interactive experiences which actively engage people in the learning process. Within a successful game-based learning environment, choosing actions, experiencing consequences, and moving towards objectives, permits players to make mistakes by experimentation in a risk-free environment. Games are interactive and provide outcomes and feedback, and have their rules and structure and goals that instill a sense of motivation. Majority of the games also have problem solving situations that glitter inventiveness.

Education games take into account of the immediate, in-depth data about each student’s performance and pave the way to completely new methods of progress measurement and achievement, in ways that reward and reinforce engagement.  This is done by assessment of the performance at the same time.  In addition, during games there is little likelihood of any sort of untrustworthy to be happening.  Students can realize their day-by-day position, not just at test time, from the ongoing assessment and frequent feedback, and can learn where they exactly need to work (play) harder to take help.  Rewards and awards program can provide a role to motivate students to keep trying when they might otherwise give up, and educators can adjust what and how to teach based on formative assessment of the individual and summative assessment by collective progress of their students.

Quite often games have a dream element for engagement of players in a learning activity through description or story lines. Educational video games can help to motivate children and permit them to develop an awareness of consequentiality. Children have the opportunity to express themselves as individuals during learning and engaging in social problems. Games of today tend to be more social, with most teens playing games with others at least for some time and can incorporate numerous aspects of civic and political life.  Students participating in educational video games have the potential to provide a depth and more meaningful insights in all academic areas.

The persistent difficulty pertaining to the way of gaining students’ concentration in teaching has turned to be severe.  Well-designed digital games which are complete with practical settings and convincing narratives seem to the present and future generations what adventure novels like Robinson Crusoe proved to the former generations.  With the capability to be used for learning purposes, well-designed games have the potential to cut through distractions and employ the audience in a way similar to some other methods. Therefore, organizations are more and more looking how funding greatly employable game-based approaches will have the potential to bring considerable profits.

Technological advancement in game-based learning

There is no controversy in the fact that in the past, game-based learning environments proved to be prohibitively expensive for majority of the organizations. A few sectors, like aviation and military were able to give good reason for the cost, because the worth of training was no doubt a life-or-death concern.  It is only very recently that health care organizations and medical schools have started to depend on games and simulations, and application on these tools is now expected or even compulsory.

Today, game-based learning gets an access in many different industries for four reasons:

  • The achievement of game- and simulation-based learning in the aviation, military and healthcare industries provides an effective proof-of-concept, and a support of learning efficiency.
  • Advances in natural processing authority with employee shrinkage in cost have been able to bring game-based learning within reach.
  • The development of stable and flexible game engines and tool kits are responsible for lowering the cost of development and reducing the need for 100% tradition from-scratch application expansion.
  • A rising group of designers and developers knowledgeable in the medium of games have combined a vital level of information relevant to what works and what does not.

Nevertheless, technology and games are expected to be used in replication environments for the purpose of imitation of real world problems in the long run.  In the professional area, like flight training, simulations are already in usage with the endeavour for preparing pilots for training before actually going out into planes.  These training sessions are meant for the usage of replication of real life stresses without the risk factor associated with flying. It is worthwhile to mention that Multiplayer role playing games (MMO’s) provide opportunities to the players for improvement of skills like multifaceted learning, thinking and social practices.


The model of interactive, greatly employable training and education is no doubt, a primitive one. A Chinese proverb says: "Tell me, and I'll forget. Show me, and I may remember. Involve me, and I'll understand."  However, the gap continues to grow between out of date, inactive training methods and a group that relies on increasingly interactive, multimedia, user-controlled way of life.  Significantly, the advent of game-based learning tools with the objective to bridge that gap comes the oath of immensely more creative and occupied students and workforce, who aspire for learning rather than taking it as a troublesome load.  Several teachers and educators throughout the world are giving emphasis to gamely the classroom. With the arrival of continual more innovations by vendors and adoption by students and teachers, game-based learning is likely to impart a good impact on education, even though there are still immense scopes for growth and development.


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About the Author
Author: Dr. Sukla Das

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