How to Embed Serious Games in Formal Education


“Thus we argue that, to understand the future of learning, we should be looking beyond schools to the emerging arena of video games.” -Shaffer, Squire, Halverson & Gee


As technology and devices advance there is more and more talk about embedding Game Based Learning into formal education. Although it may be more effective for learning and ultimately more convenient for the long term, in the mean time we are stuck with multiple constraints. If we were to embed Serious Games in most Formal Education we must push through the what seems like a grueling start-up.

To further embed Serious Games in formal education we first need to asses it’s weaknesses. There are concerns about using leisure games like the physical and cost barriers, how much hardware is needed, licences, I.T support, and training tutors. Also if tutors aren’t educated properly in the difference between good and bad Game Based Learning games then it could hinder the learners experience. There is also the issue of the learning outcomes being lost in ‘play’ to a significant degree. To continue to further Serious Games in formal education we need to overcome these barriers.

Simon Egendfeldt-Nielsen argues it is most important that the tutors feels as if their jobs being made easier rather than harder by Serious Games. Creating the solution of identifying whether the game can do that or not or whether it can be changed in order for it to become useful. Its taking the question away from being ‘is the game going to be more motivating?’ to ‘is the game going to be more effective?’

As mentioned by FutureLab, in order to overcome the issue game developers and educators need to develop and select games together. They have pointed out that Games for Learning Institute have recently developed a rubric for educators, researchers and designers that can help them evaluate educational games in 17 different design areas on a 5-point scale against three criteria: Technical implementation, Educational appropriateness and Overall integration with goals in addition to the criteria for choosing leisure games for teaching. “The RETAIN model was developed to support game development and assess how well educational contain academic content.” (FutureLab 2010) Within the Retain model the Required aspects for appropriate serious games were: relevance, embedding, transfer, adaption, immersion and naturalisation.

Arguably this method and methods like it can create a system to which Serious Games can be seen being used for many mainstream educational purposes. If awareness is spread about the positives of Serious Games further than just learner motivation the funding could possibly become available and the process could effectively start for educational systems.


“Video Games have the potential to change the landscape of education as we know it.” -Shaffer, Squire, Halverson & Gee.


Works Cited

Gee, J. Squire, K R. Halverson, R. Shaffer, D.Video Games and Learning. 2005.

FutureLab, Senior Researcher Mary Ulicask, Games in Education: Serious Games, June 2010. 

Egenfeldt-Nielsen, S. The Challenges to Diffusion of Educational Computer Games. IT-University of Copenhagen, Denmark.

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