Hi Alex,

well your question is complex for me.  My view is that for the most part, gaming and video games have not contributed much to teaching and learning in the context of formal curriculum, for example, the Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks.  I am sure that if you google gaming and education you will get lots of hits as there is much hype and enthusiasm for this topic, especially by non-teachers and non-educators.  Gaming is always often good for hypothesizing but when it come down to the work of learning curriculum, developing rational thought, learning to be a good writer and communicator, learning to be a good cooperator and citizen, gaming does not offer a whole lot.  With respect to educational software, it is extremely difficult to get the right balance between gaming and pursuing learning objectives.  people often look to game the game and just focus on the gaming characteristics and ignoring the actual content.  the best research i have seen regarding gaming was at MIT where they had kids developing their own games.  in that context they learned a lot about math, programming, and logic.  there is a built in conflict of interest in educational gaming when for-profit game companies want to suggest that their games are effective but their research is questionable because they stand to profit from selling games to education.  Unfortunately there is a loot of enthusiasm for games and education but the research does not support that they are typically productive.  My view is that games are fun and should remain so and we benefit from recognizing that learning is a complex process of interaction with people and ideas that requires study, work, discipline, and often patience and that complex process cannot be rendered painless through games.
let me know if you want to carry the conversation further.

Developing and evaluating dialogue games for collaborative e–learning

A. Ravenscroft M.P. Matheson 

The Open University
Belief change • Collaboration • Dialogue • Empirical • Modelling • School • Science


Abstract This paper argues that developments in collaborative e-learning dialogue should be based on pedagogically sound principles of discourse, and therefore, by implication, there is a need to develop methodologies which transpose — typically informal — models of educational dialogue into cognitive tools that are suitable for students. A methodology of ‘investigation by design’ is described which has been used to design computer-based dialogue games supporting conceptual change and development in science — based on the findings of empirical studies. An evaluation of two dialogue games for collaborative interaction, a facilitating game and an elicit-inform game, has shown that they produce significant improvements in students conceptual understanding, and they are differentially successful — depending on the nature of the conceptual difficulties experienced by the learners. The implications this study has for the role of collaborative dialogue in learning and designing computer-based and computer–mediated collaborative interaction are discussed.


Re-purposing existing generic games and simulations for e-learning


There is a growing interest among teachers in using games as a part of their lesson plans. A standardised, interoperable approach to the sharing of such game-based lesson plans would allow teachers and educational technologists to compare and contrast Digital Game Based Learning scenarios, allowing best practices and lessons learned to emerge. Although games can be used as ‘add-ons’ in educational contexts, greater benefits can be attained by integrating games more fully into the educational process, i.e. by repurposing existing games to target the specific learning objectives. In this article we analyse this problem. We developed two possible solutions based on the integration and the interaction of games and learning scenarios. The first solution is based on ‘pedagogical wrappers’, where games are linked to e-learning flows but without interaction and communication. The second solution sees a tighter integration which supports ongoing interaction and communication between game and e-learning flow. We applied both solutions to a generic game. This game was firstly programmed in Action Script and later re-used for learning purposes and represented in IMS Learning Design. We analysed the pros and cons of each solution and identify research topics for further research.

More info:

Articles on affective responses to video games

There are a lot of interesting article summaries over at vgresearcher.  Here is one that is particularly relevant to our project: “Affective response to video games: effects of personality, gender and in-game reinforcement (Chumbley & Griffiths, 2006)”

The abstract includes:  ‘The implications of the impact of game-play on affect are discussed with reference to the concepts of “addiction” and “aggression.”  This would be a good article for our lab to read.   I’ve put this on our To get  list, to get from interlibrary loan…. Hm, never mind!  BU subscribes to Ebscohost and I got the full text).

The authors found:


Of particular interest is the finding that, by increasing the ratio of negative to positive reinforcement, participants experienced more frustration and less excitement. In-game reinforcement characteristics were also found to have an effect on the game’s “playa-ability.” An increase in the positive reinforcement was associated with a higher propensity to continue and return to play and vice versa.

— Prof. C-H

David Perry on Video Games

Here’s a TED talk on video games. Perry shows some good examples of how various video game genres have evolved over time (and notice how educational games were not included). He also says that one of the most pervasive topics in video game creation is emotionality: “Can a video game make you cry? These are the kind of topics we care about”. Not sure if I would recommend watching the second half, though. It just shows a student film project on video games and I didn’t find it very interesting. – jimmy

New Journal: Games & Culture

Just ran across this journal online. BU doesn’t have access, but we should get some ILLs if there are any articles that look interesting. Some related topics that are covered:

  • What makes a game fun/addicting?
  • Games and learning


Infant-directed speech facilitates lexical learning in adults hearing Chinese: implications for language acquisition

Golinkoff, R.M. & Alioto, A. (1995). Infant-directed speech facilitates lexical learning in adults hearing Chinese: implications for language acquisition. J Child Lang, 22, 703-720.

Characteristics and functions of ID speech (compared to ADS)

  • slower speech rate
  • extended frequency rage
  • higher overal fundamental frequency
  • repeated pitch contours
  • marked intensity shiefts
  • longer pauses
  • simplified vocab
  • lengthened vowels

Advantages of CDS

  • intonational highlighting increases perceptual salience (Bock & Mazzella, 1983)
  • seems to communicate positive affect (smiles from young infants are more effectively elicited by high-pitched human voice than by visual or other auditory stimuli – Wolf, 1963)
  • increases eye-gaze in children (Santarcangelo & Dyer, 1988)
  • generates greater attentiveness (Werker & McLeod, 1989)
  • helps early word learning when highlighted word is at the end of a sentence due to both quality of input and recency effect (Fernald & Mazzie, 1991)

Exp 1: Can lexical learning (in foreign lang) for adults be facilitated by IDS?

  • Monolingual Eng speakers assigned to either ID group or AD group
  • Subjs looked at slides of common objects and hear an audio naming and talking about the objects in Chinese. Subjs asked to look at slide and focus on what is being siad.
  • Test: Given 10 numbered Chinese words with 3 choices of English words to choose from. Then heard a speaker name those words in ADS and had to choose the correct Eng equivalent.
  • Results: ID group (~65%) > AD group (~40% correct)

Exp 2: Does IDS help when placed in any part of the sentence or only in the final position?

  • Subjs divided into 2 groups: target word medial and target word final (position)
  • Same procedures as Exp 1
  • Results: There was an interaction between IDS and sentence position. That is, IDS only had an effect on lexical learning when the target word was in the utterance-final position.
  • IDS final > ADS final=IDS media