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Gamify Your Classroom

A Field Guide to Game-Based Learning


Matthew Farber

This book is a field guide on how to implement game-based learning and «gamification» techniques to the everyday teaching. It is a survey of best practices aggregated from interviews with experts in the field, including: James Paul Gee (Author, What Video Games Have to Teach Us about Learning and Literacy); Henry Jenkins (Provost Professor at University of Southern California); Katie Salen (Founder, Institute of Play); Bernie DeKoven (Author, A Playful Path); Richard Bartle (Bartle’s Player Type Theory); Kurt Squire (Games + Learning + Society Center); Jessica Millstone (Joan Ganz Cooney Center), Dan White (Filament Games); Erin Hoffman (GlassLab Games); Jesse Schell (Schell Games/Professor at Carnegie Mellon); Tracy Fullerton (University of Southern California Game Innovation Lab); Alan Gershenfeld (E-Line Media); Noah Falstein (Chief Game Designer, Google); Valerie Shute (Professor at Florida State University); Lee Sheldon (Author, The Multiplayer Classroom); Robert J. Torres (Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation), Asi Burak (President, Games for Change); Toby Rowland (MangaHigh); Jocelyn Leavitt (Hopscotch); Krishna Vedati (Tynker); and researchers at BrainPOP and designers from Electric Funstuff (Mission U.S. games). Each chapter concludes with practical lesson plan ideas, games to play (both digital and tabletop), and links to research further. Much of the book draws on the author’s experiences implementing games with his middle school students. Regardless of your teaching discipline or grade level, whether you are a pre-service teacher or veteran educator, this book will engage and reinvigorate the way you teach and how your students learn!
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Chapter 10. Video Games for Learning

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In a telling interview with Joystiq magazine, Valve Corporation (developer of the Steam gaming platform) founder Gabe Newell stated that he did not “believe in a distinction between games and educational games. A lot of times [the label] ‘educational games’ is a way of being an excuse for bad game design or poor production values.” Newell’s statement came after years of poorly executed “edutainment” games, titles that focused on content, not delivery. Part of the fun of engaging in games is learning how to play the game itself. The learning should be part of the core mechanic, not just transposed on it.

This chapter features a “behind-the-scenes” look at several major educational game releases. GlassLab’s lead designer, Erin Hoffman, shares the design process of its SimCityEDU: Pollution Challenge! game, which my students tested prior to release. She also details the making of Mars Generation One: Argubot Academy, GlassLab’s tablet-based argumentation game. This chapter also includes interviews with the next generation of learning game developers. I had the opportunity to speak with Filament Games’s Dan White, Schell Games’s Jesse Schell, MangaHigh’s Toby Rowland, and E-Line Media’s Kate Reilly and co-founder Alan Gershenfeld. Finally, I review one the best platforms to find learning games: BrainPOP. Featured are notes from my tour of its New York City headquarters.

Filament Games is a Wisconsin-based development studio with a simple design philosophy: Learning itself is a fun act (unofficially, its motto is to make learning games “that don’t suck”). Its games...

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