21st Feb2020

The Importance of Game Based Learning in Modern Education

by James Smith

While it is true that there have always been some aspects of game-based learning in our schools, technology is changing how it is carried out. Because of this, educators are leaning more and more about technology to help them craft and improve their game-based learning methods. This push has been due to the realisation that game-based learning has a lot of benefits. Examining game-based learning through this lens is the focus of this article.


What Is Game-based Learning?

A lot of people might have experienced game-based learning without realising it. Game-based learning is simply the inclusion of games into teaching methods and instructions. This can be in the form of traditional games or computer and other technology-based games. Both of these approaches to game-based learning can form the basis of learning and teaching.

There are several challenges of teaching a group of diverse students. The students may:

  • Have different personalities
  • Have different learning preferences or
  • Have different learning capabilities.

Because of all these challenges, educators have to change the way they teach their students by finding a variety of activities, surprises, humour and rewards to keep different types of students engaged. The education programme from the University of Exeter Online will teach you how to do this and more.

Why Game-based Learning Is Required

Studies have shown that students have shorter attention spans than ever before. These studies have also shown that dull teaching practices of the past do not excite students anymore and therefore do not lead to the retention of information. Game-based learning allows students to learn how to apply the skills learnt in the class to solving real-world problems.

The Benefits of Game-based Learning

If you surveyed students today, you would find out that they prefer to learn through gaming then through sifting through pages of a textbook. In this way, game-based learning excites them and lets them learn in ways that books never could. Even though it may seem like fun and games, lesson plans that are well-structured capture kids’ imaginations, thereby helping them get excited about subjects or topics they would find dull and boring.

Other benefits of game-based learning include:

  • Better information retention – Game-based learning improves information retention. It does this by catering to the different ways kids learn, therefore acting like individualised lesson plans for different types of learners.
  • It can help teachers craft learning packages – Most game-based teaching plans combine different lessons in one game. In this way, a teacher can teach different subjects or even use a simple game to introduce difficult concepts that kids will learn about in the future. Because of this versatility, teachers have a lot more time to drill down on exactly what they want to teach and when, combining several of these plans in single games for even more flexibility.
  • It is much more appealing – Technology has made books boring. We no longer go to the library to read, but instead have all the information we need in the palms of our hands. Kids find learning through games more appealing than cracking a book open.
  • It is much faster – A teacher can pass on a lot more information in a 10-minute game than they ever could in a 30-minute talk. If the games are structured the right way, this is entirely possible.
  • It helps teach other life skills – Game-based learning is not always about math or science concepts, it can also be adapted to teach different life skills. For example, some strategy games teach planning, critical thinking, collaboration, game theory and much more.
  • Increasing memory capacity – A lot of games require the use of memorisation. When kids have to memorise sequences, track different elements and characters, or have to remember different aspects of the game, their memory capacity increases.
  • Helps develop hand-eye coordination – Games that require input using a keyboard, mouse or gamepad do help improve hand-eye coordination.
  • Can help with computer literacy and fluency – You cannot run away from computers; they are everywhere and they help coordinate all aspects of our lives. Kids who undergo game-based learning get an insight into how computers work, thereby helping them develop computer literacy and fluency skills.
  • Helps develop decision-making skills – All games have some form of decision-making baked in. Kids learn that making the right decisions leads to better results and vice versa. Kids also learn not only the consequences of making bad decisions, but how to assess their decisions to know if they are making the right or wrong ones.
  • Help improve self-esteem and self-confidence – Nothing boosts self-esteem and self-confidence quite like achieving something all by yourself. When kids start racking up achievements in the games they play, it could boost their esteem and confidence.

Some Points to Ponder

As outlined above, there are so many benefits of game-based learning. The only caveat is that it is relatively new. Because of this, it may not have been properly tested at the school you teach at or even where your kids attend. Since there are so many benefits to this learning approach, it would take the schools and the relevant education bodies working together to make it work.

If a teacher adopts computer games as part of their teaching plans, there is always the risk of misuse and lingering by the students. Some games are so engaging that they are harder for kids to put down. A teacher may have moved on from a game and a student may have not. Because of this, there has to be a plan on how to help students move on from games that the teacher has moved away from. A suggestion to ensure this never happens is to vet every game before the students are introduced to it.

Integrating Game-based Learning Into Your Teaching Plans.

A lot of teachers struggle with integrating game-based learning into their lesson plans. This may be due to logistical or budgeting issues. That said, here are some steps to help teachers integrate game-based learning into their teaching plans:

  1. Understand the purpose of game-based learning – Before selecting a game, it is important to think about why you want to integrate gaming-based learning into your classroom. Some reasons may include:
    • Enrichment – Here, you might find ways of presenting lessons through different mediums. This will help students see your lessons from different perspectives, thereby enriching the learning process.
    • Intervention – Teachers can use a game to address specific learning difficulties in specific students. Because we understand that different kids learn in different ways, you can use different games to make learning easier for them in ways that best appeal to them.
    • Reinforcement- Games can be used at the end of the lesson to reinforce the lessons taught.
  2. Align the game to learning goals – The best way to do this is to play the game yourself. Try to go as deep into the game as possible to ensure that it delivers the lesson goals you have already decided upon. A good game should:
    • Allow the teacher to control the content of the game
    • Be easy to understand and play
    • Accommodate different learning styles
    • Have different content levels so that it gets more challenging as students progress
    • Be engaging enough so students do not get bored playing it before you are done teaching your lesson or topic.
  3. Make sure it is accepted by parents – You might need to have approval from parents and the school’s administration before introducing any games into the classroom. The best way to make sure this process goes as smoothly as possible is to ensure that the games you plan to introduce meet the expectations of parents and the administration. When you do this, you will not have parents complaining that their kids are playing games instead of studying as they will already understand the educational value of these games.
  4. Carve out time for games – Scheduling when students can engage in game-based learning works better than sporadically letting students play the games whenever they want. Integrate game playing in your lesson plans and use the games as introductory and exit points for different topics and lessons.
  5. Keep up with your students’ progress – Teachers should always track progress, assess how their students are doing and instruct their students on where they may be going wrong. Teachers could also set exams around the lessons learnt in a game to see whether your game-based learning plans are leading to the intended outcomes. You can also collect data through:
    • Class discussions – This will help you identify any challenges or difficulties and allow you to adjust accordingly.
    • Self-reports – This is for games that do not have self-reporting features.
    • In-game reports – This option is for games that have reporting features, which most of the games used in game-based learning should have.

All this information will help you craft better game-based learning lesson plans while helping you address any lessons or concepts your students get stuck on.


Game-based learning may be relatively new but there is no doubt about the immense benefits it has to the learning process. This is especially true in a generation of kids who have shorter attention spans and different learning needs.

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