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Game-Based Learning in Action

How an Expert Affinity Group Teaches With Games


Matthew Farber

How are expert educators using games in their classrooms to give students agency, while also teaching twenty-first century skills, like empathy, systems thinking, and design thinking? This question has motivated Matthew Farber’s Game-Based Learning in Action: How an Expert Affinity Group Teaches With Games showcasing how one affinity group of K12 educators—known as "The Tribe"—teaches with games. They are transformational leaders outside the classroom, in communities of practice. They mentor and lead newcomers to game-based learning, as well as advise game developers, academics, and policymakers.

Teachers in "The Tribe" do not teach in isolation—they share, support, and mentor each other in a community of practice. Farber shares his findings about the social practices of these educators. Game-Based Learning in Action details how the classrooms of expert game-based learning teachers function, from how they rollout games to how they assess learning outcomes.

There are plenty of lessons to be learned from the best practices of expert educators. These teachers use games to provide a shared meaningful experience for students. Games are often the focal point of instruction. Featuring a foreword from James Paul Gee (Mary Lou Fulton Presidential Professor of Literacy Studies, and Regents’ Professor), this book comments on promises and challenges of game-based learning in twenty-first century classrooms. If you are looking to innovate your classroom with playful and gameful learning practices, then Game-Based Learning in Action is for you!

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Chapter 5: “For the Next 3 Hours, You Have a License to Snoop Around the House”


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Paul Darvasi is an English and media studies teacher at Royal St. George’s College in Toronto, Canada. Royal St. George’s College is an all-boys private school for students in grades 3 through 12. The school is affiliated with the Anglican Church and is situated in an urban setting, in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Almost 500 boys attend the school. Darvasi’s students are all male high school seniors.

As a transformational leader in game-based learning, Darvasi has spoken at several international conferences about his use of games to teach. Darvasi wrote a two-page case study reflection on his use of the video game Gone Home in the publication, Learning, Education, and Games (Schrier, 2014). He is, along with game-based learning journalist Katrina Schwartz and academic Katie Salen, included in the MindShift Guide to Digital Games + Learning (Shapiro, 2014). In spring 2016, Darvasi was a panelist at the SXSWedu conference, along with Peggy Sheehy and Greg Toppo.

In addition to teaching with digital games, Darvasi has designed pervasive games for his students, which are games that take place both in the virtual world and in the real world. The Ward Game is his game-based approach to teach Ken Kesey’s (1963) novel One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest to his high school seniors. Darvasi also codesigned Blind Protocol, “an inter-school ← 79 | 80 → Alternate Reality Game (ARG) that...

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