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Gaming SEL

Games as Transformational to Social and Emotional Learning

Matthew Farber

Games enable children to practice emotions in spaces that are free from actualized consequences. With thoughtful guidance, games can help children manage emotions, perspective-take, demonstrate empathic concern, and exhibit prosocial behaviors.

Emerging research suggests that these competencies—also known as social and emotional learning (SEL) skills—are, in fact, teachable. In Gaming SEL: Games as Transformational to Social and Emotional Learning, Matthew Farber investigates the rich opportunities games have in supporting SEL skill development. Experts from the fields of education, game development, and SEL—including folks from CASEL, the Fred Rogers Center, Greater Good in Education, iThrive Games, Minecraft Education, and UNESCO MGIEP—share advice.

Games themselves cannot be responsible for children’s learning. Having a supportive educator or caregiver guiding experiences can be crucial. This book also includes recommendations for embedding games in classrooms in ways that support meaningful SEL skill development. Regardless of your experience, content area, or grade level, this book is for you!

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I researched and wrote the entirety of this book during the COVID-19 pandemic. This book would not have been possible without the support of many people. I would like to thank my wife, Laura, and our son, Spencer, for their continued support. A special thank you is extended to my parents, Gary and Judith Farber, and my mother-in-law, Virginia Fisher.

I am grateful to my publisher for faith in my vision, and to the experts interviewed as part of my research. I would like to express my gratitude to my colleagues at the University of Northern Colorado, including the Technology, Innovation, and Pedagogy program, the School of Teacher Education, and the College of Education and Behavioral Sciences. Go Bears!

On a personal note, our beloved family pet dog Lizzie sadly passed away in October 2020. Throughout her long life, we took many mindful walks together. She was playful and loyal to the end. This book is dedicated to her memory.

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