31 Game-Based Learning Resources for Educators

GBL Resources

Game based learning (GBL) offers proven benefits for student engagement and academic performance. But convincing some educators to include GBL resources in their curriculum can sometimes feel like a clash of the titans—the teen kind, not the ones who dared to defy the Olympian gods.

You, though, are no ordinary teacher. You’re a mighty legend on a mission to help kids and their futures. You come to budget and planning meetings equipped with resources, expert opinions, and data, perhaps some of the information found here. These GBL resources range from books to websites, and from scholarly articles to research studies.



Photos of elementary students using iPads at school to do amazing projects (http://www.schooltechnology.org).

The books listed here are available for purchase on Amazon. They won’t be light reading, but that’s what the holidays are for. You can dig into one of them while friends and family brave holiday shopping or some other errand.

  1. Computer Games for Learning: An Evidence-Based Approach. If you desire to dazzle at the next superintendent meeting, bring MIT’s research with you. The book provides proof in three, primary avenues: the value-added approach, the cognitive-consequences approach, and the media comparative approach. (Author: Richard E. Mayer)
  2. Quest to Learn: Developing the School for Digital Kids. This book covers the formation, framework, and subsequent success of Quest to Learn, a New York City school that embraced GBL and studied its effects. You can get this book at no cost on Kindle. (Authors: Katie Salen Tekinbas, Robert Torres, Arana Shapiro, et al.)
  3. Leading Thinkers: Digital Media & Learning. Affirm your GBL cause with the leading thinkers of today. This book, also free on Kindle, asks a simple question of educational thought leaders: how have students’ learning norms changed due to digital media? (Author: MacArthur Foundation)
  4. The Gamification of Learning and Instruction: Game-Based Methods and Strategies for Training and Education. This book argues that gamification utterly transforms learning design, rather than being a tacked-on component. It makes the case through practical advice and real-world examples. (Author: Karl M. Kapp)
  5. Gamify Your Classroom: A Field Guide to Game-Based Learning. If you buy only one book from the list, make it this one. The book features practical tips and interviews with a slew of leading experts, including James Paul Gee, Richard Bartle, and Katie Salen. (Author: Matthew Farber)
  6. The Multiplayer Classroom: Designing Coursework as a Game. This book discusses how to use gaming terminology and concepts to further engage students in classroom subjects. (Author: Lee Sheldon)
  7. A Playful Path. To cleanse the palate of data-driven books, finish with this one. It emphasizes the importance of play and helps readers find a way back to delight and laughter. (Author: Bernard DeKoven)

Articles and Research

Photos of elementary students using iPads at school to do amazing projects (http://www.schooltechnology.org).

Research in the area of GBL goes back at least a decade, but most of the articles and studies found here arise from the past four years.

  1. Game Based Learning: What It Is, Why It Works, and Where It’s Going. If you’re beginning the journey into GBL techniques and pedagogy, start with New Media Institute’s primer. It offers a great overview of the subject. (Author: New Media Institute)
  2. Bartle’s Player Type Theory. Bartle’s theory has lost favor in recent years, but it’s a good starting point when thinking about students and their predisposition toward certain learning models. (Author: Richard Bartle)
  3. Mapping Learning and Game Mechanics for Serious Games Analysis. This article contains information for designers and analysts of games, as well as guidelines teachers can use to evaluate game effectiveness and best practices for implementation. (Authors: Sylvester Arnab, et al)
  4. Acceptance of Game-Based Learning by Secondary School Teachers. You may think GBL is great, but others don’t. This study helps you understand their perspective and more importantly, gain their acceptance and support. (Authors: Jeroen Bourgonjon, et al)
  5. Promoting Science Learning in Game-Based Learning with Question Prompts and Feedback. This study helps educators evaluate games for the classroom. The article suggests that science-learning outcomes improve with specific types of prompts, namely, knowledge over application. (Authors: Victor Law and Ching-Huei Chen)
  6. A Collaborative Game-Based Learning Approach to Improving Students’ Learning Performance in Science Courses. Students gain so much more than increased retention with GBL. They also learn to organize their knowledge, share it with others, and grow more independent and motivated to learn. (Authors: Han-Yu Sung and Gwo-Jen Hwang)
  7. Enhancing 5th Graders’ Science Content Knowledge and Self-Efficacy through Game-Based Learning. Another science-related article, this one takes a deep dive into the world of fifth graders and the impact of GBL on their retention and critical-thinking abilities. (Author: Angela Meluso, et al)
  8. Learning through Playing Virtual Age. Teachers in the sciences wanting an in-depth review of the game Virtual Age may enjoy this article, as might teachers exploring methods to increase student engagement and knowledge retention. (Authors: Meng-Tzu Cheng, Y-Wen Lin, and Hsiao-Ching She)
  9. Assessing Foreign Language Learning through Mobile Game-Based Learning Environments. Teachers in language arts or with older students should consider this study. It explores the effects of a collaborative foreign language learning app on student outcomes. (Authors: Manuel Palomo Duarte, et al)
  10. Playing to Learn: Panelists at Stanford. This article is a must-read with its sound bytes. Read and use them when reconvening with the people who set the annual EdTech budget. (Author: Stanford University)


Photos of elementary students using iPads at school to do amazing projects (http://www.schooltechnology.org).

Numerous organizations study teaching pedagogies, with some emphasizing digital literacy and GBL initiatives. A selection of the best ones follows below.

  1. National Education Institution
  2. Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD)
  3. The Joan Ganz Cooney Center (at Sesame Workshop)
  4. Institute of Play
  5. Games + Learning + Society Center
  6. Games and Learning
  7. Mind/Shift (from KQED, PBS)
  8. Edutopia
  9. Education Week
  10. TeachThought
  11. EdSurge
  12. EdTech
  13. The Journal, Transforming Education through Technology
  14. Edudemic, Connecting Education & Technology

We could go on, but time is a precious resource when you’re a legend with teaching ability. Plus, the GBL resources found here should take you well into 2017 and beyond. If we missed a source, give us a shout. We become Legends of Learning by working as a league.

Images: Brad Flickinger (Creative Commons)

For Teachers
For Schools
For Districts