Game-based learning: Latest evidence and future directions
Game-based learning: Latest evidence and future directions

Carlo Perrotta, Gill Featherstone, Helen Aston and Emily Houghton

Research Report, April 2013


The role of video games in teaching and learning is a source of debate among many educators, researchers and in the popular press. Detractors and advocates have been discussing the influences and the potentials of video games for quite some time, and we feel that sound evidence and informed advice on these topics is still very much needed. Against this background, Futurelab at NFER felt that it was timely to provide practitioners, industry and researchers with an up-to-date account of what the evidence tells us about game-based learning and its potential impact on learning and teaching. The review aims to bridge academic and non academic domains, to provide insights that will be of interest to educators, educational researchers, industry and others seeking to engage in a more thoughtful debate about the types of educational values that can be attached to gaming. In particular, we provide accessible advice for practitioners, in the belief that innovation in education is always underpinned by informed and critical teaching.

We carried out a rapid review of key literature to identify relevant theoretical contributions and evidence. This involved systematic searching and a consistent, best evidence, approach to the selection of the literature. We focused on a range of sources, including empirical, practice-based evidence and more speculative literature, published from 2006 onward.

Key Findings:
  • The literature was split on the extent to which video games can impact upon overall academic performance.
  • The studies consistently found that video games can impact positively on problem solving skills, motivation and engagement. However, it was unclear whether this impact could be sustained over time.
  • Despite some promising results, the current literature does not evidence adequately the presumed link between motivation, attitude to learning and learning outcomes. Overall, the strength of the evidence was often affected by the research design or lack of information about the research design.

Further Information:
Format: PDF, 49pp, ISBN: 9781908666604


How to cite this publication:

Perrotta, C., Featherstone, G., Aston, H. and Houghton, E. (2013). Game-based Learning: Latest Evidence and Future Directions (NFER Research Programme: Innovation in Education). Slough: NFER.


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