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Game Based Learning

Updated: Nov 27, 2022

Game-Based Learning

Game-based learning is training that uses game elements to teach a specific skill or achieve a specific learning outcome. It takes your core content and objectives and makes it fun.


Gamification is the application of game mechanics in a non-game context to promote desired behavior and drive learning outcomes. Think points, badges, leaderboards and incentives.

The main difference between the two is the integration of game mechanics with training content. GBL fully integrates the two, so the game is the training. On the other hand, gamification uses game elements as a reward for completing existing training modules.

Findlay, J. et al. (2020) Game-based learning vs. gamification: Do you know the difference?, Training Industry. Available at: (Accessed: November 26, 2022).

Games are a crucial aspect of human culture and society and promote motivation and engagement (Bozkurt & Durak, 2018). This is why the mechanics of gaming are increasingly transferred to generally game-free contexts, such as primary and secondary school education (e.g. Ioannou, 2019; Rachels & Rockinson-Szapkiw, 2018; Zainuddin, 2018), adult and higher education (e.g. Barata et al., 2017; Huang et al., 2019; Huang & Hew, 2018) healthcare and fitness (e. g. Orji & Moffatt, 2018; Sardi et al., 2017), the workplace (e.g. Passalacqua et al., 2020; Perryer et al., 2016) or consumer behavior (e.g. Morganti et al., 2017; Tobon et al., 2020), to promote desired motivational, behavior and learning outcomes (Zainuddin et al., 2020).

Krath, J., Schürmann, L. and von Korflesch, H.F.O. (2021) “Revealing the theoretical basis of gamification: A systematic review and analysis of theory in research on gamification, serious games and game-based learning,” Computers in Human Behavior, 125, p. 106963. Available at:

Reflecting on my past practices, I've realised that I have used games to teach in the last five years. It is coming from the fact that I enjoy games, and my students have fun when it's competing against each other.

1. Line game:

Inspired by Freedom Writers (2007), in the third week week of classes, I ask the students to make two lines. Then I ask questions such as who is studying what subject, who has siblings, who likes anime etc. and if they agree to step into the middle. The questions get a bit more sensitive with questions becoming who has been in love, who doesn't feel loved by their parents, who has/had depression etc. At the end, I tell them to look around. The smart ones, the popular ones, the loners, they all have the same problems. They all share emotions and experiences, and to take a second before they judge.

2. Questions:

This is inspired by the questions of the Line Game as well as my own curiosity of having favourites. This was used in the interventions to create an intimate bond and to remove preconceived labels. I also have a habit of asking people questions such as their favourite colour, favourite flower, what makes them happy, and the closer we get, I ask questions such as their 7th favourite insect or their 3rd favourite fruit. I have observed that most of the adults (roughly above 30) would not have a favourite colour or a favourite flower. However, asking anyone below 16, I have gotten an answer right away. It can be observed that as an adult, people stop asking what your favourite colour is after a certain age. When you ask these personal questions, then you open a little window into who you are and give space to connect with others. I also use also at the beginning of the semester to initiate the students to reflect on their own lives.

3. Teach Something:

I have had a dedicated class day where I ask students to take three minutes to teach something to the class. The purpose of it then was to give them confidence in presenting as with this task, they're presenting something they're passionate about. In the interventions, I used this method to show that adults don't have a monopoly on knowledge, and it can come from both sides of the age range.

4. Crisis Solving:

I used this in the Interventions inspired by how all walks of life came together to protest during the Sri Lankan Economic Crisis 2022. I wanted to determine if solving a problem together can open a platform for more serious discussions and would tackle cut-off communication.

5. Scavenger Hunt

If I have a free day after submissions, I give my students a scavenger hunt inspired by GISH ( Some of the items on this list involves talking to other lecturers, exploring the physical building of the university, and talking to other students. As my students are foundation level, they are only exposed to limited lecturers and classrooms. This gives them a taste of who their new lecturers would be and what the building actually looks like. It also gives them the sense that they are a very real part of the university.

6. Trivia

I did not play this as a game with students, but when it comes to old knowledge, I would ask the students if they know a piece of pop culture. One of the first assignments I give them is show them a picture of the Limewire (2022) logo and ask them to find out what it is. I did this to remind them that for them to try something new, they need to know what already existed. I adapted this as an intervention for the stakeholders to ask questions from each other with trivia designed using new trivia and old to evaluate the extent of knowledge exchange and to show its benefits.

The Museum of Chaotic Good

This is combination of them all as a serious of board games (this is a personal bias) that could be utilised in workshops and then at home with family, friends, strangers, and by themselves.

The word 'museum' is used here as a museum's purpose is to bring communities together, educate, inspire, and to learn from the past (Carlsson, 2022). These games, together and individually, serve that same purpose. Its origin (my personal experiences), the foundation (the research), the act of playing the game, and the result of it contribute to those four aspects.

Carlsson, R. (2022) Why we need museums now more than ever, MuseumNext. Available at: (Accessed: November 11, 2022).

LimeWire (2022) Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. Available at: (Accessed: November 27, 2022).

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