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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!

Game-Based Learning in Action by Matthew Farber is an excellent and timely book. It offers fresh and imaginative solutions that are all too rare in charting the future of American education. By documenting an innovative tribe of remarkable teachers who have proven, compelling ways to use games to revolutionize twenty-first century teaching, learning and assessment, Farber has done the field a real service. Chock full of practical insights on ways to catalyze the ‘playful learning movement’ the book delivers the passion, knowledge and ‘game plan’ of the real heroes who can, if given a shot, transform America’s classrooms.”—Michael Levine, Founder and Executive Director of the Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop

“Matthew Farber’s book sheds a fascinating light on a dispersed group of educators who bring radical educational practices into conventional settings. More importantly, this book portrays how this small but effective global community supports one another, both personally and professionally, and provides the foundation required to integrate games-based learning into on-going coursework. For those new to games-based learning, Farber shows us how classroom learning can be transformed when educators work together to understand their students then design curriculum that speaks to their passions.”—Barry Joseph, Associate Director for Digital Learning at the American Museum of Natural History

“If you want to become an expert on games for learning, I know no better way than Game-Based Learning in Action. It makes research accessible, and is full of thoughtful case studies on exemplary games as well as great advice about how to integrate all of it into a classroom. It is rare to find a book that is great for researchers, game designers, and teachers, but here it is!”—Jesse Schell, CEO Schell Games, and Distinguished Professor of Entertainment Technology at Carnegie Mellon University

“Following a group of innovative tech-savvy teachers, Matthew Farber unearths a close-knit tribe of passionate educator-scholars actively using games in their classrooms. This community applies scholarly research on game-based learning to their own teaching and presents their results at academic conferences and teacher workshops. Farber’s book introduces you to the teachers, the tools, and their techniques, and ties it together with current cutting-edge research. At the end of each chapter you’ll find yourself excited to dive into an overflowing toolbox of techniques to try, games to play, and papers to read. Farber covers a vast landscape, pulling resources together and presenting them to you in a thorough and easy to follow format. Press start!” —Mark DeLoura, Engineer, Game Developer, Former Senior Advisor for Digital Media in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy