Topic 7: Digital Games and Design

There is something about games that makes gamers coming back to play for more. It would be powerful if education is gamified – students would keep coming back to learn for more. The game itself, however, should not be stand-alone activities or be substituted with lessons (Mayer, 2016). Instead, elements of games should be integrated into conventional learning activities.

Teaching to the test is an issue where students learn facts to pass tests but cannot apply their knowledge in other domains (Gee, 2005). Digital Games (DG) for educational purposes are an exciting alternative that allow transfer of knowledge from games to other contexts (Mayer, 2019).

The affordance of DG is that the challenges in games are ‘pleasantly frustrating’ and within students’ ‘regime of competence’ since difficult challenges are still doable (Gee, 2005). This is because failure in games is without real-life consequences. Students are thereby encouraged to take risks and explore. Whereas, schools often confine space for risk and failure (Gee, 2005).

Learning process is differentiated as games connect words to situated meanings and experiences, such as actions, images, or dialogues for better comprehension (Gee, 2005). Mayer (2019) defines this as ‘multimedia learning scenarios’ where instructional materials integrate words and graphics that lead to long-term comprehension.

All games have strengths and weaknesses, so teachers need to efficiently discern which ones are effective for game-based pedagogy. Some non-educational games benefit students because they could be replete with problem-solving situations or provide useful knowledge (Gee, 2005). The research by Mayer (2019) shows that people who played Tetris for 6 hours or more benefited in mental rotation tests of 2D shapes.

Tetris played by Hanah Park

Students can learn about subject-specific content from off-the-shelf games. For example, fractions can be introduced to Year 7 students with Flipping pancakes. Certain games are designed to improve cognitive skills (Mayer, 2019).

Learning fractions with Flipping Pancakes played by Hanah Park

DG already encourage students to explore and think laterally (Gee, 2005). Imagine how much more benefits would stem from students being designers of games.

Deep learning occurs when students become self-regulated learners who gain ownership and take responsibility for their cognitive processing during gameplay (Mayer, 2019).

Creativity comes from innovating novel ideas. Students as designers of games can apply their existing knowledge during their design process, which encourages creative thinking and critical thinking (Khairulamin et al., 2018). Students will not only play, but also build games that generate an open mind (Khairulamin et al., 2018).

Playing multiplication game I created on Scratch. Or click here to play.

I relied on a tutorial to design this multiplication game on Scratch. Students also require guidance on basic coding skills before creating their own. (Screenshot of coding by Hanah Park)

Educational DG must be curriculum-aligned and used to supplement learning activities, not supplant (Mayer, 2016). Excessive time investment, in comparison to what we achieve in return, must be avoided (Moore-Russo, 2018).


Gee, J. P. (2005). Good video games and good learning. Phi Kappa Phi forum, 85(2), 33-37.

Khairulamin, A., Ibharim, M., Farhana, L. (2018). Creativity of student as a game designer: An exploratory study. The International Journal of Multimedia and Its Applications, 10(6), 105-115. doi: 10.5121/ijma.2018.10609

Mayer, R. E. (2016). What should be the role of computer games in education? Policy Insights from the Behavioural and Brain Sciences, 3(1), 20-26. doi:10.1177/2372732215621311

Mayer, R. E. (2019). Computer games in education. Annual Review of Psychology, 70(1), 531-549. doi:10.1146/annurev-psych-010418-102744


2 thoughts on “Topic 7: Digital Games and Design”

  1. Hi Hanah,
    Thank you for posting an interesting post about digital games. I like how you mentioned some games by offering videos of how to play them and pointing out the benefits of playing that game. You also linked the games to specific learning contents, which is very helpful. You have mentioned that excessive time investment must be avoided. Do you have any suggestions about time management when using digital games in the classroom, as I found it a bit challenging, especially when introducing a new game to students? Thanks.


  2. Hi Hanah,

    Your post about how digital games can be used within classrooms, as well as how they foster creativity was well presented, I really enjoyed reading it. The information and justification you provided as to why game elements could be used to educate students was well thought out and relevant, as well as supported by academic literature which added to the credibility of your argument. The media that you provided also displays the level of engagement you had with the topic, trying a variety of games and analysing them to see their various uses.
    I would like to ask your thoughts on whether or not there should be a limit to the amount of game-based learning that students undergo and whether or not there are any adverse effects to their learning if they are exposed to too much gamified learning as they progress through school.

    Thank you for providing your detailed and informative post.



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