The power of video games to capture students' attention, time, and efforts has always astounded me; so when a classmate, Matthew Sun, mentioned using principles of video game design in classroom engagement, my curiosity was piqued:
How can educators harness the "fun factors" of video games to make learning more fun and engaging? 

The following principles for designing engaging video games (Hunicke, LeBlanc, and Zubek, 2004) could also be applied to teaching:

1. Discovery- exploring uncharted territory
  • Posing questions which do not have answers at the back of the textbook or in the teacher's mind
  • Allowing students to take the lead in their learning: giving them choice as to which area of the topic they want to explore (eg. passion-based learning)
2. Challenge- having obstacles to overcome, problems to solve
  • Integrating challenge-based learning and problem-based learning into the classroom
  • Ensuring that students who have more expertise in an area are receiving both scaffolding and problems to further stretch their thinking
3. Fellowship- having social interactions with peers
  • Teaching group work skills and providing opportunities for both in-person and online collaboration
  • Creating a supportive classroom community where students interact kindly and respectfully
4. Expression- having the opportunity to convey one's preferences and personality
  • Giving students choice as to how they want to express their ideas and the content of their learning (eg. different methods of presentation: poster, PowerPoint, drama, story, video, Prezi, song, drawing)
  • Allowing students to incorporate their interests and passions into projects (eg. topic for writing/art/reading)
5. Narrative- unfolding of a story
  • Designing cohesive units with lessons interconnected by an essential question- a question that unfolds more and more over the unit
  • Asking students to create and share stories or role play scenarios to reinforce learning
6. Fantasy- using imagination for make-believe
  • Having the opportunity to be creative in learning (eg. creating comic strip for the rock cycle, designing a creature that would survive Mars)
  • Engaging with fiction
7. Sensation- enjoying beauty in art (via senses of sight, hearing, touch)
  • Integrating art projects of different mediums into different subject areas (eg. painting predator eyes during a unit about the food web; connecting mathematical sequences to music; baking cupcakes in learning about fractions)
8. Submission - having a mindless past-time
  • Learning and mindless seem quite contradictory. Perhaps this principle would not be applicable, except maybe when I surf Pintrest or Twitter for ideas (but I would consider this more automated than mindless).


Hunicke, R., LeBlanc, M., and Zubek, R. 2004. MDA: A formal approach to game
    design and game research. In Proceedings of the Challenges in Game AI    
    Workshop, 19th National Conference on Artificial Intelligence (AAAI '04, San
    Jose, CA), AAAI Press.
1/17/2013 01:18:04 pm

Do you plan to engage the students further using gaming during your long practicum? I will show you some work that one of my students did last year. He created an ecosystems project using Minecraft.

1/17/2013 04:04:57 pm

@ Mr. Hong

Educational gaming is something that I would love to look into more. Also, I am interested in integrating aspects of gaming which are engaging to students into classroom projects and activities.

I would love to see that Minecraft ecosystems project!


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