Gaming in Education

what games have to teach us about learning

Josh Caldwell

Junior High

Why Games?

A game is an opportunity to focus our energy, with relentless optimism, at something we’re good at (or getting better at) and enjoy. In other words, gameplay is the direct emotional opposite of depression.

― Jane McGonigal, Reality Is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World


  • Achievements/Badges
  • Progress Bars
  • Sandbox Learning

Game Based Learning

  • Serious Games
  • Commercial Games
  • "Grind" Games

Serious Games

  • Games with Purpose
  • Educational Games
  • Social Issues
  • Solving real-world problems
  • ARGs (Alternative Reality Games)

Commercial Games

  • Designed for fun and playability
  • Better buy-in than "educational" games
  • Modern story-telling medium
  • Innovative indie games

"Grind" Games

  • Repetitive Activity
  • Rote Learning
  • Drill and Kill
  • Point Accumulation
  • Anchor Activities
  • Casual Gaming


  • Grading Up, not Down
  • Social Learning
  • Recognition of Skills
  • Motivation
  • Constructive Feedback Loop
  • Classroom Management