Category Archives: Game Based Learning

Invasion of the German Board Games – “The Atlantic”

By Jonathan Kay from The Atlantic, January 21, 2018

In a development that would have been hard to imagine a generation ago, when video games were poised to take over living rooms, board games are thriving. Overall, the latest available data shows that U.S. sales grew by 28 percent between the spring of 2016 and the spring of 2017. Revenues are expected to rise at a similar rate into the early 2020s—largely, says one analyst, because the target audience “has changed from children to adults,” particularly younger ones.Much of this success is traceable to the rise of games that, well, get those adults acting somewhat more like children. Clever, low-overhead card games such as Cards Against Humanity, Secret Hitler, and Exploding Kittens (“A card game for people who are into kittens and explosions”) have sold exceptionally well. Games like these have proliferated on Kickstarter, where anyone with a great idea and a contact at an industrial printing company can circumvent the usual toy-and-retail gatekeepers who green-light new concepts. (The largest project category on Kickstarter is “Games,” and board games make up about three-quarters of those projects.)

Continue reading entire article HERE.



Civic Mirror: Simulated Nation Building for Middle Schoolers

kaio-simulated-national-building-civicmirrorOriginally posted on edutopia by  Aaronkaio

When I was in middle school, I had a U.S. history class that I can remember almost nothing about. The only thing I recall was that during a really exciting jeopardy game, the teacher asked me about a French word somehow connected to fur trappers during the colonization of North America, and I didn’t recall ever seeing it in the book. Honestly, that is the only thing I remember. Oh wait, I also remember that we took a lot of true and false quizzes.

When I became a teacher, I knew that I wanted my classes to be different.

Enter the political/economic country simulation called Civic Mirror. I first heard about Civic Mirror six years ago when a colleague tried it out. He said the kids were wildly excited about it and were learning like they had never learned before. I didn’t get a chance to use it until two years later, and I had similar results. This year I was able to introduce it in my sixth/seventh grade U.S. history class. I wonder why everyone doesn’t do it.

This is My Country

In the Civic Mirror, students become citizens of a new country that they set up and create for themselves. The simulated country runs through a website managed by Reagan Ross, the project’s creator. Once in the country (represented by a 36-hexagon map), students are able buy property, run businesses, participate in a government, develop resources and industries, and really anything else they can imagine.

The way I introduced students to the Civic Mirror this year was to put them through the normal colonization and revolution units that most U.S. history classes have, while letting them know that, in the same ways that the U.S. became a country, they would become a country within the class, and deal with many of the same problems that a real country would face.

To prepare for the simulation, students studied the Mayflower Compact and the Declaration of Independence, some of the foundational documents of our country. This continued with a look at the United States’ legal rulebook, the Constitution, which would be our rulebook as well. Then we chose a name, a national flower, different cultures and a national slogan. Although some of these are kind of weird in my opinion (Volcanoville, vampires, zombies, “Never back down from a fight”), to the kids they are relevant — they own these ideas.

Continue full original article at edutopia

Using the Game “Diplomacy” in the Classroom

This is an “article” about a teacher’s use of the boardgame “Diplomacy” in his 12th grade humanities classroom (who had just read Sun Tzu’s “The Art of War and Machiavelli’s “The Prince”).  I ran across this “article” awhile back when I was searching for examples of the use of existing games that have been used to teach topics in a real classroom.  I put quotes around the word “article” here because the work is not a published article but appeared in the form of a very long post on the “Boardgame Geek” forum.  As such there is no indication of the real name of this person or where his school is located.  In the opening paragraphs of his post he identifies himself as a teacher and states the following:

“This is written by a teacher, about a teacher’s experience using the game in the classroom, for an audience who is either interested in general in the world’s best game, or for teachers who are looking toward using gaming to enrich their instruction.”

diplomacyteacherThe poster (Calavera Despierta) includes great detail and photographs of his efforts to teach his students the game and apply it to the lesson he his hoping to teach them. He also goes to great lengths to analyze and give a detail debrief of his success.  I find the narrative fascinating and all the more so when one reads that this brave teacher actually did this simultaneously in four of his classes.

Calavara address many concerns that I have seen in other published accounts about using games in the classroom such as:

  • The time it takes to teach the game and the use of class time to do so as well as play the game.
  • Dealing with students who don’t “get into it” or just are non-participatory
  • Running simultaneous games
  • Gender issues with girls maybe not being as involved as boys (especially in war themed games)
  • The pitfalls of competition and (especially in this game) the pitfalls of Machiavellian behavior in the game that may carry out of the game.
  • How to actually make the game meaningful and apply it to the topic being taught.

Calavara does a good job explaining in detail how he deployed the game and how he attempted to address these issues.  I wish he had (or will) think about publishing his reflections on his experience.  In the meantime I highly recommend reading his post here:

Diplomacy in the Classroom: A  Massive Report

And then read his follow-up post about some of the written reflections of his students after experiencing the game in his classroom here:

Diplomacy in the Classroom: Part 2: Kids in their own words


Down the Rabbit Hole: How To Turn Your Class into an Alternate Reality Game

Re-posted from Ludic Learning : By Paul Darvasi

the_rabbit_hole_by_blargofdoom-d6i6w0pAre you Ready to Ascend to Epic Awesomeness?

Have you lost sleep wondering how to turn your class into the most epic adventure of all time? Can you imagine your students climbing over each others backs to get to your class and collectively groaning when it’s over? If you think you’re ready to ascend to a whole new level of awesomeness, brace yourself. Today begins your initiation to learn the ancient and jealously guarded secret of how to turn your class into an alternate reality game (ARG for short). You’ve never heard of alternate reality games, or you’re not quite sure what they’re all about? Leave your doubts and hesitations at the door and enter – all will be explained and the path will become clear(-ish). All mysteries will be demystified, and all secrets will be, well, unsecreted.

An Alternate Reality Collaboration


This tale begins two years ago, when John Fallon and I met at the Games in Education Symposium in Upstate New York, where we were presenting on the ARGs we’d designed for our classes. We quickly discovered a shared appreciation for games, books and secret societies and forged an instant friendship. It wasn’t long before talks turned to designing a game to be played between our two schools. Undaunted by the international border that separated us, we Skyped, Googled, Facetimed, Facebooked, Instagrammed, Tweeted and Retweeted, until Blind Protocol was born. What ensued was an immersive 30-day game that pit our two classes in the US and Canada in a mock-cyberwarfare simulation. By the time it was over, our students were well versed in the pitfalls of privacy, surveillance and online security. And they had fun. Yes, fun. Yes, in school.

This past summer, we were lucky enough to present on our work at the International Boys School Conference (IBSC) in Cape Town, South Africa and the Games in Education Symposium (GIE) in Albany, NY. One of the many promises that were made to the session participants was that we would publish a one-stop-shop resource to help ease them down the ARG rabbit hole. So here you have it – the recipe to channel the transformative power that will let you run your class as an immersive alternate reality game.

This first post will ground you in an overview of ARGs and their uses in education, and the next post will provide all the resources you need to get started.

Continue the complete blog post by Paul Darvasi HERE.

The Ultimate Education for Video Game Lovers

tabletHeadRe-posted from TechRadar  By , January 17, 2016 Gaming

Apparently – and excuse me as I adjust my Grumpy Old Man hat – you can now play video games as part of a school curriculum.

Sure, that school is in Norway, where they are progressive and cooler than actual snow (of which they have plenty), but it’s a sign that the world is going to hell in a handbasket, even though things like global warming and Donald Trump are infinitely more indicative of that. Let’s all just keep getting angry at video games, much like cavemen were scared of fire back when that was all the rage.

Okay, time to take off the Grumpy Old Man hat. It makes me cranky.

One pioneering Norwegian high school has introduced an elective eSports course as part of its curriculum. But I ask: why stop there? Imagine a future where children are educated solely by video games.

But what would the curriculum look like? If we are going to teach through games, we’d better do it right. So, here I present my plan for the world’s first video game school.


There is no greater maths professor in the real or virtual world than Doctor Kawashima from Nintendo’s Brain Training. Not only is he someone that makes maths fun – mostly by judging your brain to be that of a middle-aged dog rather than a 15-year-old kid – but he’s also an assist trophy in Smash Bros, which means he can take you out if you don’t do your homework. And he will.


So long as you don’t care too much about actual, factual history and you’re okay with learning about how one bunch of people were responsible for basically everything good in history, then you’ll love the Assassin’s Creed History module. Remember, pupils: if you always put “it was all the Templar’s fault” then you’re almost certain to ace your exams.

Religious Studies

All that boring New Testament stuff tends to weigh you down after a while. It’s all so… nice. You liked the Old Testament way more, with bits about God’s Wrath and fire raining down from the skies. Vengeful God was much more Hollywood. Well, good news: your RE teacher has been replaced with Bayonetta. She’s tall, scary, and she beats up Old Testament angels for a living. That’s what I go to school for.


Everyone hates PE, but everyone loves Wii Fit! All you need is your gym kit, extra socks, a towel, a Wii, a balance board, and one Wii remote per person. Easy, right? But if you do still loathe PE as much as ever… well, now you have more things to conveniently “forget”.


Where’s the fun in learning grammar if you can’t go out and use it in the real world to make dinosaurs appear out of thin air? There is none, so that’s why English would be about playing Scribblenauts. Students would learn how to use verbs, nouns and adjectives as they mine Scribblenauts’ impressively vast dictionary in order to solve the series of puzzles. It’s the only time in their lives where they’ll be rewarded for writing rude words.


When it comes to physics, who better to teach it than Portal’s no-nonsense GLaDOS? Not only is she ridiculously intelligent, her sarcastic wit is a class apart – and for those reasons I would prescribe Portal 2 for all science students. It’s also a good game for teaching children how to work together and, more importantly, how people will inevitably let them down.

I’d also recommend Spore for educating children about evolution and, again, how life is full of disappointments.

Food Tech

Speaking from experience, my Food Tech lessons always seemed to be less “let’s make something cool, ambitious and actually worth eating” and more “make a cake, or whatever, I don’t care”. Cooking Mama would never let you down in such a way. She’s perky, encouraging, and does everything step-by-step so you never get lost. You might actually learn something from her.


There aren’t many games where you can learn geography without subsequently declaring it as yours, but Civilisation is a game that takes it one step further: You discover land and other tribes, and then re-create it as your own weird, messed up version of Earth where a hyper-aggressive Gandhi was the world’s first superpower. Learning is fun!

And there you have it. If you are on some kind of school board and you would like to buy my ideas off me for lots of money, please contact my editor.

Re-posted from TechRadar  By , January 17, 2016 Gaming

A Review On The Benefits of Video Games in Education

Re-posted from Gamification Co of 1/14/2016

gamesinclassResources and Further Readings on the Benefits of Video Games in Education

Many recent articles have been critical of the computer games industry siting evidence of the negative effects of computer games on learning and even on physical and mental health. These studies raise the alarm about how video games lead to addictions, violent behavior, sexism, lack of physical exercise and other terrible consequences in children.

However, some recent study reviews have suggested that those evaluations are short-sighted. A review by Professor Gerald Mattingly found that the consensus of research confirms how playing video games (both violent and non-violent types) improves visual attention as well as spatial-motor skills.

Educational video games and simulators can teach educational skills such as algebra, biology, photography, computer programming, and flight training. Studies also suggest that appropriate simulation games can improve a child’s sense of self esteem and even improve socialization skills, leadership skills, and team building.  Continue the article here…

How a Classroom Game Becomes an Embedded Assesment

Link to article in Etutopia

Megagame: Political Science Simulation for the Classroom

Alliance Mega Game Web Site

Games vs Game Based Learning vs Gamificatiion

Games vs Game-based Learning vs Gamification

Games vs Game-based Learning vs Gamification
Click to view the complete infographic. | Infographic by Upside Learning

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