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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 16. Games to Change the World


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Social impact games are a genre that seeks to affect positive changes in society through play. These games are not necessarily designed for teaching; rather, the goal is to enable players to have empathy about social issues. As a social studies teacher, I have found that they are effective in putting students into authentic, problem-solving scenarios. In some instances, students discover that there may be no solution to certain problems.

One of the first social impact games, Darfur is Dying has a message that still resonates today. My students virtually forage for water while outrunning the militia, as well as see daily life in a refugee camp. In Quandary, they encounter ethical dilemmas, or quandaries. To play, you assemble a team to colonize a new planet. Other social impact games to play in a classroom include the web-based The Migrant Trail, which puts players in two roles: a border patrol agent, and then as a migrant. All of these games have enjoyed recognition from Games for Change.

Game designer Jesse Schell refers to the social impact or serious games as “transformational.” His studio, Schell Games, moved from creating only entertainment titles to creating both educational and transformational games. To Schell, transformational games are “designed to change a person.” When we spoke in 2014, he elaborated: ← 299 | 300 →

I like the term better than “serious games,” which is a broken term. I’ve...

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