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Gamify Your Classroom

A Field Guide to Game-Based Learning – Revised edition


Matthew Farber

This completely revised and expanded field guide is packed with new innovative ideas on how to implement game-based learning and gamification techniques in everyday teaching. With nearly two dozen more experts than the first edition, this book contains interviews with more than 70 authorities in the field, including academics such as James Paul Gee, Kurt Squire, Mizuko (Mimi) Ito, Lee Sheldon, Jordan Shapiro, and Mary Flanagan. The author also shares conversations with experts from numerous organizations such as Common Sense Media, iCivics, DragonBox, Connected Camps, GlassLab Games, Schell Games, Institute of Play, Games for Change, BrainPOP, Tiggly, Toca Boca, ThinkFun, BrainQuake, Filament Games, BreakoutEDU, Kahoot, Classcraft, and more. Featuring a new introduction, as well as a foreword from USA Today’s national K-12 education writer Greg Toppo, this book provides new practical lesson plan ideas, ready-to-use games, and links for further research in each updated chapter. Included are best practice recommendations from star game-based learning teachers, including Steve Isaacs, Peggy Sheehy, Michael Matera, Rafranz Davis, Zack Gilbert, and Paul Darvasi. Regardless of your teaching discipline or grade level, whether you are new to game-based learning or if you have experience and want to take a deeper dive, this book will engage and reinvigorate the way you teach and how your students learn!

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Chapter 7. Puzzles, Games, and Digital Toys


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Back in 1994 Will Wright was interviewed by Wired magazine about an upcoming project he called “Doll House.” Wright had trepidations about his game because it wasn’t really a game at all. Playing with dolls, after all, is not like playing Twister or Monopoly. He told interviewer Kevin Kelly, “I have in mind a game I want to call ‘Doll House.’ It gives grown-ups some tools to design what is basically a dollhouse. But a dollhouse for adults may not be very marketable” (1994). The digital dolls in Wright’s Doll House were eventually released under a different name: The Sims. The name refers to “simulation,” as in a simulated version of real life. Wright’s toy—or game—was successful because it tapped into a psychological need for symbolic play. It has also spawned an entire genre of games, where the player controls a fishbowl-like world. Civilization and Clash of Clans are examples. In April 2014, I spoke to James Paul Gee about digital toys such as The Sims. He said:

The best-selling game in history is The Sims; people say it is not a game. Who gives a damn? It’s good interactivity. We’re producing interactivity that’s engaging and relates to real learning. Whether or not the thing is a pure game, whether everything in it is a game, is quite irrelevant.

Henry Jenkins shared an anecdote with me in May 2014 about his...

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