There are two hot buzzwords surrounding gaming and education: gamification and game-based learning (GBL). Gamification involves adding game-like elements to a non gaming environment (like incorporating game mechanics, badges, awards, or achievements into your normal class activities), while game-based learning involves using games to reach learning outcomes. Both can be great ways to achieve better outcomes for all students, regardless of ability, personality, or learning style. Not convinced? Check out my infographic on video games and learning, or read this article on gamification versus game-based learning by Steven Isaacs. The list below focuses on resources for game-based learning in all subject areas.
1. Gamindex: This website offers in-depth reviews of video games in all subject areas. Developed by Mallory Kessen, an English teacher and avid gamer (whom I happen to have the fortune of working with 🙂 ), Gamindex is easily the sleekest and most intuitive resource on this list–just click on your subject area and BAM! You will find a list of expert-reviewed games to use in your class. Reviews include everything from age level to game difficulty to educational and overall ratings, and even ideas for how to use the game in your classroom.
Sneak Peek: Fine Arts, English Language Arts
“More and more indie games are being developed with a focus on telling a good story and experimenting with new styles of gameplay. Toren is one of those games. Created by Brazilian developer Swordtales, Toren places players in the role of Moonchild, a young warrior who has lost her memories and forgotten her past inside a massive tower. Players lead Moonchild through childhood, adolescence, and adulthood as she climbs the tower and the Tree of Life on her journey to defeat the dragon atop it. Toren is a short myth that the player learns about and explores along with Moonchild as she grows up and recovers her memories.”
2. Steam Community–Extra Credits EDU: This site includes a list of games for all subjects, including descriptions of themes/ideas, difficulty, and time to play. Better yet, it is hosted by Steam, an online entertainment platform with over 3,500 games of all varieties. This means that once you create a free account, you can simply click to purchase or play any of the games on the list. You will also have access to the Steam Community, a social media platform where you can join groups like Extra Credits EDU to follow games you are interested in and to learn about new games.
Sneak Peek: History
“[Darkest Hour] features a mixture of short and in-depth campaigns set across the darkest chapters of the 20th century. Play from the outbreak of the Great War up until the onset of the Cold War.”
“History. 3-4 hours. Difficult. Control an existing nation state during the first and second world wars. Play with student input in class to discuss WWII”
3. Games for Change: With a mission of “Catalyzing social impact through digital games,” Games for Change inspires a unique approach to game-based learning. They offer a wide array of games which can be filtered by age as well as subject, including (but not limited to): civics, conflict, economics, education, environment, family, fitness, gender, health, and human rights.
Sneak Peek: Science
“Bioharmonious makes the player responsible for the fate of two interconnected planets. The Manufactured Planet, a place of clockwork machinery and choking smog, is on the verge of collapse, and its sister planet, the lush and diverse Natural Planet, will die along with it unless something is done. Through a process of “bioharmony,” scientists from the Manufactured Planet are able to integrate the flora and fauna of the Natural Planet into their machines to improve the environment of their home world.”
4. “30 Ways to Use Minecraft in the Classroom”: This isn’t a website, but rather, a blog post about, well…30 ways to use Minecraft in the classroom. Minecraft is a popular block-building game (think Legos for your computer), and can be played online or on a mobile device. This post includes unique ideas for using Minecraft in all different subject areas. Believe it or not, you can use Minecraft to teach everything from sustainability to ancient history to probability, storytelling, or even foreign language! Check it out!
Sneek Peek: Math
“In this lesson from MakersFactory, students learn about volume using Minecraft blocks, measuring dimensions and calculating the volume of increasingly more complicated shapes. Students travel through a “museum” of progressively more difficult geometric shapes, and are asked to calculate their volume. After completing the museum, students measure a Minecraft recreation of the Parthenon of ancient Greece, and calculate its volume. To download the map and associated lesson plans, click here: http://services.minecraftedu.com/worlds/node/133 – See more at: http://teachwithict.weebly.com/minecraft-lesson-ideas.html#sthash.UqthF69T.dpuf”
Hopefully this gives you some ideas to get started! Of course, this list is nowhere near exhaustive, so if you have other resources for games to use in the classroom, let me know!