Gaming and Gamification

Dr. Beaumie Kim is coming to class to discuss gaming and gamefication in education. We have a selection of 3 papers to center our discussion. James Gee’s Learning in Games, Eric Zimerman’s Gaming Literacy and Constance Stienkueler and Kurt Squire’s Videogames and Learning. All four of these authors are part of the Games+ +Learning+Society.

Fun&Game_sJames Gee argues that good game design can teach us about learning and learning theory. Gaming provides experiences for structured problem solving, with learning in action, immediate feedback, opportunities for learning from failure, extending and applying previous learning in new situations, and opportunities for sharing and learning with with peers.

Eric Zimmerman argues gaming literacy includes systems, play and design. Systems-based thinking is about processes. “Play is the human effect of rules set into motion”. Game design is about the creation of possibilities. Design mediates between structure and play, explores a process, creates meaning and is multi-modal literacy. I have played many games, but I have never designed a game. Does one need to design a game to have gaming literacy?

All of the articles make a compelling argument that games represent some of the best aspects of learning theory. Yet, there are differences between education and gaming. In gaming, the purpose is to play. In education, the purpose is to learn specific content. When educational games have specific learning purposes, is the notion of a game for plays sake somehow ruined?

I know playing crib can improve two-digit addition. But crib was not designed to help people learn to add. The adding skills are a bonus of a fun game.  Conversely, I have seen way to many drill and practice software programs disguised as games.  Children are rarely fooled.  How do we keep the notion of play for play’s sake and ensure learning outcomes are met?


Gadamer, H.-G. (1989). Truth and method. (J. Weinsheimer & D. G. Marshall, Trans.) (2nd ed.). New York: Continuum Press.

Gee, J. P. (2008). Learning and games. In K. Salen (Ed.), The Ecology of Games (pp. 21–40). Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press. Available at:

Zimmerman, E. (2009). Gaming literacy: Game design as a model for literacy in the twenty-first century. The Video Game Theory Reader, 2, 23–31. Available at:

Steinkueler, C., & Squire, K. (2014). Videogames and learning. In R. K. Sawyer (Ed.), The Cambridge Handbook of the Learning Sciences (2 edition). Cambridge University Press.



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