Game-Based Learning And 21st Century Skills

What exactly is Game-Based Learning (GBL)?

A ladders game template (Source: Pinterest)
  • Gamification encompasses extracting elements and structures from games and applying them to more “serious” environments like companies, schools or households
  • Playful Learning does not necessarily utilize games for learning, but rather emphasizes some of the playful components of learning
  • Serious Games are “designed for purposes other than pure entertainment” and might for example help with the training of doctors. The term also includes simulations: Lamb et al. (2018) mention that “Call of Duty, if used to train military personal in room clearing techniques, could be considered an example of a Serious Game”

What does the Research say about the Effectiveness of GBL?

  • While 21st century skills by themselves are only a small subfield of GBL research, most of the 29 papers focused on the development of critical thinking skills. Only few investigated creativity and collaboration, and only one single study took a closer look at communication skills
  • Participants covered a wide range of ages, from K5 (5 to 11 years old) up to graduate level students, which is fantastic — in comparison, action video game research focuses almost entirely on young adults
  • Constructivism was the learning theory that was most often referred to by studies, however, across the field as a whole, many studies seem to fail to address learning theories in the theoretical foundation of their research (Wu et al., 2012). This might have something to do with the outcomes of said research
  • Less than half of the studies reported effect sizes, although most (85%) reported significant effects. This is unfortunate as it limits the conclusions that can be drawn from their results
  • The results of the studies that found significant effects seemed to mostly depend on game design, while “game design elements proven successful in the entertainment game industry are most likely to lead to effective learning“. Examples of such critical elements would be Competition, Collaboration and Exploration & Discovery, which are very prevalent in non-educational video games
  • In connection to that last point, design-based games seemed to work best in improving 21st century skills despite them not having educational goals!
Photo by Bermix Studio on Unsplash

Conclusions and Outlook



Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Adani Abutto

Adani Abutto

Hi there, I’m a psychology student from Switzerland with various interests :) I have moved my writings to my website ->