Games in Education: Serious Games

Mary Ulicsak

01 June 2010

This report is a review of research around gaming environments for education; this includes games, serious games, virtual worlds and simulations. These games are used widely outside of formal education systems, for example by the military and within the health and commerce sectors. Yet their use within schools is less common.

Identifying games that can be used for education is complex. there are many definitions and ways of classifying educational games, serious games and their relationship to virtual worlds and simulations.

Some view them as a continuum (Aldrich 2009), while others see them all as different categories of the same thing (Sawyer & Smith 2008). Serious games are the accepted term for games with an educational intent. they need to be engaging, although not necessarily fun, while the learning can be implicit or explicit. there is no uniform pedagogy within serious or educational games; earlier games tended to be based on a behaviourist model. later games try and incorporate experiential, situated and socio-cultural pedagogical models. the learning outcome is dependent upon an appropriate pedagogy and the underlying game mechanics and how the content is integrated into the game so the learning is intrinsic to play. A comparison of the use of serious games (including simulations and virtual worlds) in multiple domains was made. the aim was to determine if the practice could be transferred to the formal educational domain.