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Report: Moving Learning Games Forward

"This grand vision of the integration of gaming culture with school culture will require a tremendous effort on the part of all involved – schools, parents, academics, government agencies, non-profit agencies, gaming professionals, and others. Providing access for all students to the kind of playful, investigative, collaborative and well-supported education that we envision in this document will necessarily depend on school culture and gaming culture coming to a respectful, mutual understanding and comfortable integration. Certainly, teachers and schools will have to take brave risks to innovate, but the learning games community will need to meet schools, understanding the constraints on the system and individual teachers."

This is the conclusion of an important paper on games for learning from the Education Arcade at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The paper starts by making a case for learning games grounded in principles of good fun and good learning. From there the paper explores the commercial games market, gleaning lessons from this rapidly growing and diversifying place. In order to address the concerns of those who see “edutainment” as a dead market, the paper analyzes the downfall of edutainment in the 1990s and establishes how the current movement differs. As
there are many applications of games related (more or less) to learning games, the paper lays out the ecology
of games with a purpose beyond play. Much of the rest of the paper establishes principles and best practices
for moving the field forward in a positive direction. The paper should provide a good grounding in the field
and both motivate and inform those wanting to participate in this rapidly growing domain.

The Education Arcade explores games that promote learning through authentic and engaging play. TEA's research and development projects focus both on the learning that naturally occurs in popular commercial games, and on the design of games that more vigorously address the educational needs of players.