Good Games = Good Pedagogy: The Pedagogy of Commercial Video Games


It’s misleading to suppose there’s any basic difference between education & entertainment. This distinction merely relieves people of the responsibility of looking into the matter. – Marshall McLuhan, from “Classroom Without Walls”, Explorations Vol. 7, 1957

An Hour of Play: An Introduction to Video Game Literacy

Presentation Type: presentation suitable for keynote
Audience: Educators
Presenter(s): Katrin Becker

We have always appropriated whatever technologies are available to us for use as technologies for instruction. This practice may well date back as far as communication itself. The practice of “studying the masters” is an old and respected one, and using this perspective we can take advantage of the opportunities afforded us in studying outstanding examples of commercial digital games as “educational” objects, even if they weren’t produced by professional educators. An examination of successful games can progress towards an understanding of the essential elements of ‘good’ games and begin to discuss the implications this holds for the deliberate design of educational games. There is, however, a caveat: knowing why a game is good is not the same as knowing how to make a game good. It is nonetheless an essential step in that process.

This presentation examines some ways in which a few “good” games implement some well-known learning and instructional theories. “Good” games in this context are defined as those that have experienced both substantial commercial success and broad critical acclaim: the deliberate implementation of one or another learning or instructional design theory is not a prerequisite. In fact most will not have been consciously influenced by formal educational theory at all.

Implications include the notion that learning and instructional design theories can be developed in the context of learning with games. Finally, we will present some key distinctions between digital games and other learning technologies and what this might mean for the development of design models and methodologies.

Gagne’s Nine Events as expressed in videogames