Unit 2: Selecting Educational Video Games


ETAP_623_Spring_2021_(Byrne) |Rawan Abdelaal's Portfolio Page | Integrating Educational Video Games

Learning Objectives

At the end of this unit, you should be able to

  • Define the criteria needed when selecting an educational video game
  • Understand Gee’s(2005) Learning Principles of Educational Video Games

Recap of Unit 1: Benefits of Educational Video Games:

16472957 1353603411368001 7506961958080925425 n.jpg

2.1 Introduction

After we have established the definition of game-based learning, its basis, and how its implementation enhances several social and cognitive skills. The question now diverts to how we can select an educational video game that elicit engagement and motivation as well as ensure that it is designed with the intended educational content. There are many educational video games available for class implementation, however, many are redundant, easy or stimulatingly boring that students are just not as interested or motivated to play. In this unit, we will discuss the characteristics of a good educational video game, its attributes, and how educators can ensure that they are providing their students with the best quality of learning through the selected video game.

Before we dive deep into our unit, take a moment to solve this quiz. https://www.cbc.ca/kidscbc2/the-feed/how-much-do-you-know-about-video-games

2.2 What makes a good educational video game,good?

Gee (2006) discusses how good video and computer game designers create games that manage to get new players to learn long, complex and difficult games. They build these games based on the good principles of learning that involve 3 main criteria, ‘Empowered Learners’, Problem Solving’ and ‘Understanding’. Good video games employ strategies that causes players to exercise their learning muscles, without knowing it and without having to pay overt attention to the matter. Good educational video games excite human learning through mind-provoking challenges and hooks. Cognitive scientists identify good educational video games as games that are both fun as well as provide a good educational experience by connecting to the student’s deeper appreciation for learning and their own trajectory in life.

The three large criteria of a good educational game design, as discussed by Gee (2006), if implemented in schools would necessitate significant changes in the structure and nature of formal schooling. Empowered Learners, Problem Solving and Understanding all entail important learning principles and features that the more they are present in the selected game, the stronger the game in delivering its content.

Empowered Learners: This category of principles entails that good learning dictates that learners feel like active agents (producers) and not just passive recipients (consumers). It includes learning principle such as identity, customization, Manipulation and Distributed Knowledge.

Problem-Solving: This category of principles entails that good learning occurs through though-provoking challenges and problem that push the players creativity and forces them to use their building knowledge to solve problems. It includes principles such as Well-ordered problems, pleasantly frustrating principles, cycles of expertise, and just in Time and On-demand principles.

Understanding: This category of principles entails that good learning is based on acquired systematic thinking and comprehension, which allows the learner to comprehend and understand every element of their content/problem. It includes system Thinking principle and meaning as action image principle.

So what are the learning principles that a good educational video game is built on?

The first attribute of a good educational video game is how engaging it is? Engagement is a broad category that involves many properties in order to sustain it. Gee (2005) provides an outline of the learning principles of a good video educational video game. Those are outlined below.

Screen Shot 2021-05-13 at 3.24.48 PM.png

These learning principles should be applied to school learning at all times, not just through educational video games. They change the current trend for skill-and-drill, scripted instruction, and standardized multiple-choice testing.

For further elaborating on the learning principles, please read Gee (2006) and Gee (2005) publications.

2.3 Unit 2 Activity

As an educator, who is now aware of game-based learning, educational video games, its benefits, and the learning principles, create an outline of a lesson plan that you would incorporate an educational video game in. The game could be part of the lesson or used in every unit of the lesson, or through all your lessons, there is no limit.

Please create this in Google Docs and share it to rabdelaal@albany.edu.

2.4 Unit 2 Reflection Task

Understanding Gee's learning principles and the criteria to use when selecting an educational video game, discuss in your opinion, what are the important features that a good educational video game should have? What are some necessary features are needed to make sure that an educational video game compliments your pedagogical approach and enhances it?

Please write your reflection in this Google Docs File: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1u37mo58uCaurcNPVDLiVGG_XC4M24ZXdMdiDyhpKfHw/edit?usp=sharing

Click here Unit 3: Integrating Educational Video Games in the Classroom to navigate to the next unit of this course.


Gee, J. P. (2003). What video games have to teach us about learning and literacy. Computers in Entertainment (CIE), 1(1), 20-20.

Gee, J. P. (2005). Learning by design: Good video games as learning machines. E-learning and Digital Media, 2(1), 5-16.

Gee, J. P. (2005). What would a state of the art instructional video game look like?. Innovate: Journal of online education, 1(6).

Gee, J. P. (2006). Are video games good for learning?. Nordic Journal of Digital Literacy, 1(03), 172-183.

Gee, J. P. (2007). Good video games+ good learning: Collected essays on video games, learning, and literacy. Peter Lang.

Gee, J. P. (2008). Good videogames, the human mind, and good learning.