Game-Based Education: Why Is It a Useful Learning Method?

Image of Students using game-based education learning approach
Students Using Game-Based Education or Learning

The game-based education or learning seeks answers on how to increase student engagement in the learning process.

So, are you a teacher, and all you do is stand in front of your students and read notes? Is your only instructional material for the assignment textbook?

Then, it would help if you read this with an unbiased mind.

The era when teachers face their students and reach word for word has since given way to a more innovative teaching method.


Using textbooks alone for assignments and exercises does not give the necessary results.

Learning shouldn’t be a tedious exercise.

Teachers should always look for ways to engage and motivate students to participate actively in the learning process.

Here’s why

Students will master the lesson and develop critical thinking, creative skills, and positive mindsets. You can achieve these by introducing different kinds of games during lessons.

This would not only boost retention of the course materials; it would also increase participation and a warm learning environment.

I think you’ll agree with me when I say; that modern teaching requires more than just the regurgitation of facts. 

 Instructors must provide tips, techniques, and tools that help students develop critical thinking skills, emotional control, focus, and retentive memory.


What is Game-Based Education or Learning?

Game-based education might sound new to you if you’re new to teaching or education in general. 

However, games have always been used in the education system. The use of games in teaching dates back to the Middle Ages when the early strategic thinkers used Chess to teach strategic thinking.

What, then, is game-based education?

Game-based learning is the use of games in educational activities. It’s the use of the power of the game to achieve learning objectives. 

There’s game-based learning when there’s high student engagement, instant rewards, and healthy competition. Playing while acquiring knowledge motivates the students.

According to Edutopia, “research shows that using games in teaching can help increase student participation, foster social and emotional learning, and motivate students to take risks.”

Using games in learning allows the students to engage with instructional materials playfully and dynamically. So, the idea behind game-based learning is to enhance teaching through repetition, failure, and goal accomplishment.

What’s more?

The ever-evolving technology constantly changes the type of games people play. At this age, educators make the most use of video and electronic gaming to enhance learning to get the desired result.


What are the benefits of Game-based learning in Education?


Now that you have a firm understanding of game-based learning in education, it is also crucial to know why it’s an important learning method. Are you ready? Let’s go straight.

You see, in this day and time, most people use computers, mobile phones, and other electronic devices for almost all forms of transactions. 

In one of its 2019 reports, Forbes observes that young people spend at least 7 hours per week playing games.

What this means is that.

There’s a high propensity for more people to learn through these devices since they use them more often.

 So, as we stated earlier, game-based learning allows students to explore and practice what they learn without harboring the thought of failure. 


With the introduction of games, the learning process will be more fun. So, students participate actively and learn while having fun.

In specific terms, game-based learning has the following benefits:

1. Critical thinking Skills

Game-based learning encourages critical thinking in students, independence of thoughts, and team spirit.

2. Active Participation and Motivation

 Educators using a game-based method in teaching motivate students to engage and participate more in learning activities.

3. Problem-Solving Skills

Game-based learning helps students develop problem-solving skills.

Here’s what we mean on this point.

When students learn with games, they will understand why things happen the way they do, become more logical, and build more decision-making abilities that they’ll continue to use even after school.

4. Special Education Needs

Students with special needs also find game-based learning helpful. 

Let me break this down a bit further.

Game-based learning helps special needs students to gain social participation and independence. Also, a recent study shows that students with autism participate more actively in academic exercise when they learn with digital-game-assisted devices.

5. Situated Cognition

You must be wondering what this means.

Situated Cognition, otherwise known as situational learning, suggests that students learn faster and better when they relate, engage in cross-fertilization of ideas, and interpret the instructional content to one another, using the language or code that each of them understands. And how do we achieve this? There’s no better way to accomplish this than through game-based learning.

Read Also:10 Top Digital Skills for Students

How to Effectively Implement Game-Based Learning as an Educator

So, you’ve picked an appropriate and engaging classroom game, and your students are eager to engage it. 

What’ll be your following action?

You need to put your game to use in the classroom. Follow these steps to achieve success!

Adopt a concrete plan 

This sounds obvious, but it’s true. Are your students going to play every day or only on certain days? Before or after lectures? For how long? At home or in the classroom? How you administer the game is certainly up to you. Still, we’ve found that students are often so eager to play classroom video games that they end up asking for extra home assignments involving these games (yes, you read that correctly — students asking for more homework). In that case, we recommend you get students’ parents on board and make sure they’re aware that these games are being used as an essential component of their children’s coursework.

Choose the suitable format.

With the availability of smartphones and hand-held devices, digital games are top-rated among children and teens; these are an obvious choice for classroom games if your school has a computer lab or in-class devices.

If digital games don’t work, you can use other kinds of in-class activities to get students out of their seats and eager to participate, like group labs, in-class presentations, Jeopardy-style assessments, and more. 

To that end, consider if you’d like your students to work independently or collaboratively. Most students are vocal and active in group work, allowing them to develop their social and interpersonal skills. But not every size fits all — other students do prefer independent work. And in some classes, group work doesn’t make sense.

Bottom line? Make sure the format you decide on works for you and your students and is easy to implement.

Evaluate the efficacy, gather feedback, and repeat

It would be best if you made sure the games you implement are helping students master the content and progress in the class. With educational digital games, it’s easier if your students have their accounts and a built-in means of measuring progress and participation, like XP (Experience Points) earned. 

These metrics usually correlate well to the number of effort students put into practicing the concepts they learn in class.

Moreover, even though you’re the sole authority in your classroom, students should have some say in how they learn. If you find some students struggling with the format you’ve chosen, you should seek feedback from everyone to ensure that your games are working well. For example, suppose the difficulty doesn’t scale well, and some students are consistently underperforming. In that case, you can split your class into groups, where each tier receives challenges and activities that match its level of proficiency.


Types of Game-Based Learning

Knowing the different types of game-based learning in education will help our understanding of the essence of using games for instructional purposes. So, game-based learning includes, but is not limited to:

a. Role-playing games (RPGs) — a game in which players assume the role of imaginary characters who engage in adventures. A popular fantasy tabletop RPG, Dungeons & Dragons, was first introduced in 1974. Prodigy Math is also a massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) where 1st to 8th-grade students go on exciting adventures and correctly answer curriculum-aligned math questions to progress

b. Card games — A game that uses a traditional or game-specific deck of cards. “War” is a classic card game that can have a mathematical twist. 

c. Simulation games — A game designed to simulate real-world activities closely. The Sims, launched in 2000, is one of the most popular life simulation games series involving creating and exploring virtual worlds.

d. Board games — A game you play on a board that usually involves the movement of pieces. Chess and checkers are the most popular ones, but there are hundreds if not thousands of board games for kids to explore.

e. Video games — an electronic game wherein players can manipulate what appears on the screen with, for example, a joystick, controller, or keyboard. A couple that might pop into your head is the decades-old classic Pac-Man or, more recently, Fortnite.

f. Word games — A game typically designed to explore the properties of language or the ability to use a language itself. Scrabble is an example of a traditional word game, while the app Words With Friends is more modern.

g. Puzzle games — A game that emphasizes puzzle solving through one’s use of logic, word completion, sequence solving, and spatial and pattern recognition. For example, Sudoku and 2048 are famous math puzzles.


Differentiating Game-Based Learning and Gamification

Game-Based Learning is often confused with gamification, a term often heard in school environments.

But are they really the same?

 According to EdTechReview, gamification is “the application of game elements and digital game design techniques to non-game problems, such as business (growing in education technology) and social impact challenges.”

Here’s what I want you to learn from this

The game elements can be points, achievements, badges, and leaderboards. They are used as extrinsic motivational tools in traditional classroom activities.

There’s always a thin line between Game-Based Learning and gamification. Gamification elements are typically present in a GBL activity, not vice versa.

GBL usually includes a game-like environment and practice of the learning content through activities like theatre and role play.

In Game-Based Learning, the learning process comes from playing the game. On the other hand, gamification is about inserting some game elements into educational activities.

Although Quizzes can be considered an example of gamification, tools like web apps for creating quizzes, such as Kahoot or Quizizz, are not considered GBL.

They are quizzes, a stack of questions, a story, or an environment without characters or rules.

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