This chapter and the next are quite dense and include a great number of citations. This chapter on game based learning and the next on game based pedagogy form the foundation on which the remainder of the book will build. In this chapter we will see why all games involve learning. We highlight some of what is currently known about games and learning including the arguments in favor (attraction, flow, engagement, etc.) by going through the motivation and learning theories that connect most closely with games, and examine the Clark-Kozma debate through the lens of games as educational technology. We also look at some of the challenges to using computer games in the classroom (lack of access to technogoly, lack of institutional support, funding, access to good games, etc.). We will explore the things that make games unique as a medium, and as a learning technology such as the fact that rule systems and enforcement tend to be hard-coded in games, whereas they are personally or socially mediated in traditional games. In games, players can take risks and explore “what if” questions that might be too dangerous, or risky in real life. And we conclude with a brief examination of the place games have in media literacy.

Chapter Goals

  • Explore the learning theories that have formed the foundation for digital game-based learning.
  • Connect the dots between theories of learning and the design of good digital games.
  • Review the Clark-Kozma Debate and see how games fit in.
  • Consider how it is that all games can be said to teach.
  • Identify some of the advantages and challenges in using games for learning.


  1. The Clark-Kozma Debate
  2. All Games Teach
  3. Why Games?
  4. Why NOT Games?
  5. Games Literacy
  • book/ch02.txt
  • Last modified: 2015/05/18 17:55
  • by becker