Game Based Learning – Gaining Momentum?

Motivation, confidence, enjoyment, engagement, immersion, are all words that can be used to highlight what a good Game Based Learning (GBL) resource can bring to the user in a given subject. Over the last decade users have become accustomed to varying ways to play games in general. Desktop PC’s and bespoke consoles still arguably offer the most realistic platforms for the most popular games, but now mobile devices are the norm and go to devices for quick games, its becoming easier to target more users to focus on a game while learning. Also now more immersive technologies are becoming affordable with gadgets like the Oculus Rift, a user can become more immersed than ever before.

Looking for some global gaming statistics for 2014 shows why we can expect GBL to increase in demand as users have all they need to partake in GBL right in there pockets:

  • 80% of time on mobile is spent inside apps or games
  • 84% of tablet owners spend most of their time playing games on it.
  • 77% of gamers play at least one hour a week (in the US)
Statistics from

An article form the Guardian published in September 2014 highlighted a few areas that most may come as a surprise to non-gamers. A study showed that over a six month period in 2014, “70% of the country played a game” and “based on interviews with 4,000 UK residents, the research asserts that women now account for 52% of the gaming audience, up from 49% three years ago”. This is interesting as if you speak to someone who is not used to games, they would likely think games are for younger boys/adults in bedrooms. These new statistics dispel that idea.

Statistics from

These statistics are useful for GBL because the target audience needs to be as wide as possible and you’d hope that a GBL game is not going to be the first game a user has played before because then they can focus more on the content of the game rather than the functionality and the learning process of the controls etc.

Games for education can be beneficial because of the way a user gives focus to a game they become hooked on because of such things like the competitive elements of a leader-board or social interactions, challenges faced that entice them to play again, to do better. Or to unlock more content and rewards.

…”according to the IAB, one of the most interesting discoveries through the 4,000 surveys and 20 in-depth interviews that contributed to the findings, was the immersive nature of the medium. Researchers found that, when UK gamers are playing, they give their full attention.

‘We were really surprised by how captivated consumers are by the gaming environment; once they are playing, they are completely ‘in the zone,’’ said Chester. ‘We hear a lot about how everyone is always multi-tasking but the study shows that games are a unique and engaging environment which requires people’s complete and utter focus.'”

SimCity – commercial game with a sense of humour but with lots of educational values…

Tying all the elements together that makes a game addictive, and add to it the content required to learn a particular subject in as much detail as necessary, can make for a very successful GBL resource. From a personal point of view, I have an early memory of a somewhat involuntary GBL approach on my part when in secondary school, I played SimCity a lot. Building cities from scratch, maintaining zones for residential, commercial and industrial areas. Keeping transport efficient to turn a profit, whilst keeping the population satisfied that there taxes were going to worthy causes (policing, education, fire department, hospitals, waste management, roads, other transport etc). During this time I was given a project in Geography. The project required a report about if I was to design a city from scratch, how would I go about it whilst highlighting the most important things to be aware of. I got one of the highest grades for that project over any Geography project before and after it. And I put it down solely to what I learned whilst playing SimCity.

GBL in education example:

Other useful links for GBL:

Infographic highlighting benefits of GBL from three research studies:

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