Computer game

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1 Definition

A computer game is a partially (or mostly fully) computer-supported game. Most games are a kind of video game.

See also Simulation and gaming

2 Typologies of computer games

(this is very provisional ...)

Action and skills games
  • Sports games
  • Combat games
  • Platform games
  • Labyrinth games
  • Interactive moviews
Strategy and role games
Hybrid play
  • Real time strategy games
  • Real time adventure and role playing games with combat

See also:

3 Why games in education ?

Some people see a lot of potential for education. and in recent years, a whole serious gameing community sprang up. Serious games as opposed to "normal" games are primarily designed with learning in mind, although they do adapt similar game play principles.

  • Games are rather engaging and learners do things.
  • Learning can, and should, be hard fun (Quinn, 2005:22). “ We are not, cannot be, about designing content. A fundamental perspective I want you to take away is that we are designing experiences. If nothing else, start thinking not about creating content but about designing learner environments and architecting experiences. It has become clear to me that this is a fundamental point. You have to start thinking about putting the learners into a context where they have to make decisions, understand why those decisions are important, want to make those decisions, and know that there are consequences of those decisions” (Quinn, 2005: 10).

Marc Prensky (2001:05-1) gives twelve reasons why he believes that computer and videogames are potentially the most engaging pastime in the history of mankind:

  1. Games are a form of fun. That gives us enjoyment and pleasure.
  2. Games are form of play. That gives us intense and passionate #
  3. Games have rules. That gives us structure.
  4. Games have goals. That gives us motivation.
  5. Games are interactive. That gives us doing.
  6. Games are adaptive. That gives us flow.
  7. Games have outcomes and feedback. That gives us learning.
  8. Games have win states. That gives us ego gratification.
  9. Games have conflict/competition/challenge/opposition. That gives us #
  10. Games have problem solving. That sparks our creativity.
  11. Games have interaction. That gives us social groups.
  12. Games have representation and story. That gives us emotion.

and he adds to that that “ Nothing else provides all of these. Books and movies, which perhaps come closest, have many of these characteristics, but they are not interactive, and are typically experienced alone. Games, at their best, are highly social, highly interactive experiences.” (Prensky (2001:05-2).

However, few studies have demonstrated the benefits of playing video games on learning. Within the scarce pieces of literature that try to scientifically assess the effect of games on learning, distinguishes three types of learning outcomes:

  1. cognitive abilities and skills (like the effect of Tetris on mental rotation abilities, Green & Bavelier, 2003, 2006) ;
  2. affective and motivational aspects, like aggressiveness and hostility (Anderson & Bushman, 2001) or motivational issues ;
  3. knowledge and content learning (Rieber & Matzko, 2001)

Overall, the benefits are often very specific and linked to the task which is performed in the game (for a review, see Rebetez & Betrancourt, 2007). For example, playing Tetris improves only the performance of spatial rotation tasks that were very close to the Tetris task. Using a simulation in physics, Rieber & Matzko (2001) demonstrate that though implicit knowledge is gained, explicit principles are not memorized unless multimedia explanations are provided at some point in the game. To sum up, computer games should be regarded as all other computer-supported learning tools: the activities that the tool supports are the critical elements.

4 Computer games as programming micro-worlds

(this section needs some references and more examples ...)

Instead of using programming microworlds or traditional programming languages, one also can consider using game development toolkits to teach computer programming basics. For some learners, such environments combined with a game creation project may increase motivation. (Dillon; Phelps et al., 2009).

E.g. the Game Maker software was initially created with the purpose in mind.

5 Software

Good overview on various commercial and free game creation software and engines can be found on Wikipedia:

You also may find more pointers starting from Wikipedia's Game development or list of gaming topics

5.1 PC games toolkits used in education

  • AgentSheets (can be used to design games)
  • Adventure Author (includes the ScriptCards language)
  • Simventive toolset enables designers of instructional ("serious") games to create training simulations and to define the behavior of characters and objects that populate those simulations, all without programming. includes a Scenario Player, Scenario Editor, and Scenario Debugger. (window/linux/MacOS, commercial, price unknown).
  • Construct (example of use in classroom)

5.2 Website with games

  • (Good old games, cheap commercial). The interest to educators is that nowadays, such games are easier to create and they run on all platforms.

5.3 commercial games modification toolkits used in education

(there are more)

5.4 Homebrew game console development

  • DevKit Pro This site is home to the toolchains of choice for homebrew game development, currently available for GameBoy Advance, GP32, Playstation Portable, GameCube, Wii, ...
  • Handheld Devices from WidgEd.

See also Nintendo Wii (includes pointers to software for programming the Wii and/or its peripherals)

6 Links

General Introductions, links, etc.
  • Games for Change - Games for Change (G4C) provides support, visibility and shared resources to organizations and individuals using digital games for social change.
  • A theory of fun Web site for the game design book of the same name by Raph Koster. Also includes references to famous games and other links.
Organizations, Labs, etc.
  • Gravel, University of Minnesota Game Research and Virtual Environment Lab.
  • Serious Games Initiative - Community/News Portal. The Serious Games Initiative is focused on uses for games in exploring management and leadership challenges facing the public sector. Part of its overall charter is to help forge productive links between the electronic game industry and projects involving the use of games in education, training, health, and public policy.
  • LingualGamers. Games for language learning (includes pointers to people and thesis)
  • Game Design. Some articles by Erasmatazz, a designer of interactive fiction and other stuff.

7 Bibliography

  • Anderson, C. A., & Bushman, B. J. (2001). Effects of violent video games on aggressive behavior, aggressive cognition, aggressive affect, psychological arousal and prosocial behavior: a meta-analytic review of the scientific literature. Psychological science, 12(5), 353-359.
  • Butler-Purry, K., Srinivasan, V., Pedersen, S. Video game for enhancing learning in Digital Systems courses (2009) ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings, 9 p. Abstract.
  • Communications of the ACM, Volume 50 , Issue 7 (July 2007), Special issue on gaming TOC.
  • Crawford, Chris (1997). The Art of Computer Game Design, Washington State University. (This is an on-line book of text written much earlier).
  • Dillon, Teresa, Adventure Games for Learning and Storytelling. A Futurelab prototype context paper: Adventure Author, FutureLab Report.
  • Gee, James (2003). What Video Games Have to Teach Us About Learning and Literacy, New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Gorriz C. and C. Medina, (200). "Engaging Girls with Computers throughSoftware Games," Comm. ACM, vol. 43, no. 1, 42-49
  • Green, S. C., & Bavelier, D. (2003). Action video game modifies visual selective attention. Nature, 423, 534-537.
  • Green, S. C., & Bavelier, D. (2006). Enumeration versus multiple object tracking: the case of action video game players. Cognition, 101, 217-245.
  • Herz, Jessie Cameron. Joystick Nation: How Videogames Ate Our Quarters, Won Our Hearts, and Rewired Our Minds. Boston, MA: Little, Brown, and Co., 1997. ISBN: 0316360074.
  • Hiebert, Jeremy (2003). Why Video Games Won't Thrive in Mainstream Education, Blog Entry, HTML
  • Howland, K., Good., J., and Robertson, J. (2006) 'Script Cards: A Visual Programming Language for Games Authoring by Young People', in Proceedings of the IEEE Symposium on Visual Languages and Human-Centric Computing (VL/HCC). Pp. 181-184. DOI
  • Jenkins, H., K. Squire, and P. Tan. "You Can't Bring That Game To School!: Designing Supercharged!" In Design Research. Edited by B. Laurel. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2003. ISBN: 0262122634 - Book Abstract
  • Kuo, Mei-Jen. "How does an online game based learning environment promote students? intrinsic motivation for learning natural science and how does it affect their," digitel, pp.135-142, The First IEEE International Workshop on Digital Game and Intelligent Toy Enhanced Learning (DIGITEL'07), 2007
  • Laet, M. de et al. (2005). "Computer Games and CS Education: Why and How," Proc. 36th Sigcse Tech. Symp. Computer Science Education, ACM Press, pp. 256-257.
  • McFarlane, A., Sparrowhawk, A., & Heald, Y. (2002). Report on the educational use of games: An exploration by TEEM of the contribution which games can make to the education process. [] PDF
  • Perrone, C., D. Clark, and A. Repenning, "WebQuest: Substantiating Education in Edutainment through Interactive Learning Games," Proceedings of the WWW5 Conference, Paris, France, Elsevier Publishers, 1996
  • Phelps, Andrew M.; Christopher A. Egert, Jessica D. Bayliss, "Media Impact: Games in the Classroom: Using Games as a Motivator for the Study of Computing: Part 1," IEEE MultiMedia, vol. 16, no. 2, pp. 4-8, Apr.-June 2009, doi:10.1109/MMUL.2009.40
  • Phelps, Andrew M.; Christopher A. Egert, Jessica D. Bayliss, "Media Impact: Games in the Classroom: Using Games as a Motivator for the Study of Computing: Part 2," IEEE MultiMedia, vol. 16, no. 3, pp. 2-7, July-Sept. 2009, doi:10.1109/MMUL.2009.50
  • Prensky, Marc (2001), Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants-- A New Way To Look At Ourselves and Our Kids, On the Horizon (NCB University Press), Vol. 9 No. 5, October 2001, PDF
  • Prensky, Marc (2005). Engage Me or Enrage Me -- What Today's Learners Demand (in Educause). EDUCAUSE Review, September/October 2005, PDF
  • Rebetez, C., & Bétrancourt, M. (2007). Video game research in cognitive and Educational sciences. CogniN´ie, Creier, Comportament / Cognition, Brain, Behavior, 11( 1), 131-142. PDF
  • Rieber, L. P., & Matzko, M. J. (2001). Serious design of serious play in physics. Educational technology, 41(1), 14-24.
  • Robertson, J., & Good, J. (2005). Story creation in virtual game worlds (PDF). Communications of the ACM, 48(1), 61-65. PDF
  • Robertson, J., and Good, J. (in press) 'Adventure Author: A Computer-game Authoring Tool for Children'. Accepted for publication in Educational Technology.
  • Robertson, J., and Good, J. (2006) 'Children's Narrative Development through Game Authoring', TechTrends, 49, 43-59. PDF
  • Prensky, Marc (2001). Chapter 5: Fun, Play and Games: What Makes Games Engaging. In Digital Game-Based Learning. New York: McGraw-Hill. PDF
  • Repenning, Alexander and Clayton Lewis, Playing a Game: The Ecology of Designing, Building and Testing Games as Educational Activities. ED-Media 2005, World Conference on Educational Multimedia, Hypermedia & Telecommunications, Montreal, Canada, Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education. PDF
  • Purushotma, Ravi, [Foreign Language Education Learning with Video Games and Live Web Media from Authentic Youth Culture HTML] (preprint ? , retrieved 16:42, 28 December 2006 (MET)).
  • Sandford, Richard; Mary Ulicsak and Tim Rudd (???), Teaching with Games, Using commercial off-the-shelf computer games in formal education, FutureLab Report, [ HTML/PDF]
  • Schrier Karen (2005). Revolutionizing History Education: Using Augmented Reality Games to Teach History, MIT Master Thesis. [[1]
  • Smith, Roger (). Game Impact Theory: The Five Forces That Are Driving the Adoption of Game Technologies within Multiple Established Industries. PDF
  • Squire, K. "Reframing the Cultural Space of Computer and Video Games." Faculty Working Paper, Comparative Media Studies, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2001.
  • van Eck, Richard (2006), An Instructional Designer Looks at Digital Game-Based Learning, Web Seminars Contributed by EDUCAUSE (2006) Abstract / HTML / PDF
  • Virvou, M., Katsionis, G., & Manos, K. (2005). Combining software games with education: Evaluation of its educational effectiveness (PDF). Educational Technology & Society, 8(2), 54-65. PDF