8 Game-based Learning

Game-based learning involves the integration of games into the learning experience. It includes a spectrum of approaches that range from high-fidelity simulation to gamification, which is the integration of classic game elements into traditional learning activities. Game-based learning is appropriate for all disciplines, student levels, and course formats, including online, blended, and traditional classroom settings.

We will focus on gamification as an instructional approach unique to game-based learning. Gamification integrates game elements into the classroom, including but not limited to the following:

  • Stories, themes, and aesthetics
  • Competition, conflict, and collaboration
  • Rating systems and rewards
  • Strategy, chance, and choice
  • Levels, badging, and point systems

Nicolson (2015) describes components of meaningful gamification in the following terms:

  • Play: freedom to explore and fail within established boundaries
  • Exposition: problem-solving within authentic settings and scenarios
  • Choice: flexibility in learning processes and products, which enables

    student autonomy

  • Information: design and displays that reinforce content and process


  • Engagement: opportunities for collaboration
  • Reflection: connecting experience to other interests, goals, or experiences

Practice examples and resources


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