What’s the difference between serious games, educational games, and game-based learning? Episode 2

Approximate Reading Time: < 1 minute

I recently posted a table explaining the differences between games, serious games, educational, games, GBL, etc.

Copyright © 2016 K.Becker, Mink Hollow Media, Ltd.; All Rights Reserved

 

I thought a concrete example might help to understand the distinctions.

Say we are using The Parable of the Polygons to help a high school class learn about diversity. This is a wonderful little game that tells a story of how harmless choices can make a harmful world.

The Game for Learning (a.k.a. Educational Game) refers to the actual object: The Parable of the Polygons.

All Games for Learning are ALSO Serious Games (Games for Learning are a subset of Serious Games), and in turn, all Serious Games are also Games.
Note: All digital games are ALSO simulations, but that’s a story for another post.

Copyright © 2018 K.Becker, Mink Hollow Media, Ltd.; All Rights Reserved

 

The Game-Based Pedagogy is the lesson that the teacher created which uses that game.

Game-Based Learning is what the students are doing when they use the game to try and meet the learning objectives.

These two are essentially 2 sides of the same coin:

Copyright © 2016 K.Becker, Mink Hollow Media, Ltd.; All Rights Reserved

 

Gamification is not part of any of these. It is NOT a game, although it may use ideas, mechanics, and other elements that are common in games. For example, the idea of ‘unlockable content’ might be included in a lesson such that students need to earn some pre-determined minimum score on a test, before they can move on the the next unit. This was one of the ideas employed in the highly successful SRA Reading Labs.

Copyright © SRA Reading Labs

Does that help?

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Comments

What’s the difference between serious games, educational games, and game-based learning? Episode 2 — 8 Comments

  1. Hello, Katrin. Thank you for sharing the useful information. I am a second year PhD student at Hong Kong U. I am writing my thesis and need to clarify the differnce between serious games and educational games. May I cite this article and use the table and figures in my thesis? Of course with all the proper citation and references. Thank you very much in advance. I am looking forward to your reply.

  2. Hey Katrin, great work on this blog article! I was wondering since you separate serious games and educational games if you could give some examples of serious games that are not educational? I’m trying to get a better understanding, thanks in advance! 🙂

    • Thanks Timm!
      First let’s be clear on the difference between education and learning.
      Learning happens all the time – it’s what we DO.
      We can learn things that are good for us and bad for us; things that are useful and useless.
      Education is a societal construct. Education is value-laden.
      These are a few examples of serious games that are not educational games:
      – games for pain distraction
      – phobia management
      – advergames
      – exergames
      – social justice games
      – political games

      • Dear Katrin,
        Great article! thank you for posting,
        I am still confused about the difference between “educational games” and “G4L” as the term “educational games” maybe are more commonly used?
        Can you give some examples of serious video games, educational video games, and a video games for learning?
        I suggest you add an examples to your chart 🙂
        Thank you!

  3. Hello, Katrin. I am a software engineering undergraduate student doing a literature review for my final year project. Is it permissible for me to cite this article and reproduce the set of games you’ve made? Of course with all the proper references and citation.

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