Week 1

Connecting Games and Learning

1. In this week…

The videos for this lecture will introduce you to using games and simulations in your own courses, what it means to immerse and engage students in learning games, and present an online game called Labyrinth. The assignment will ask you to play the game, think about how to apply the game to your course, and read a chapter on what it means to design an effective educational game.

Learning Games are Hard Fun Video [ZIP, 125 MB, 540 p]
Learning Games are Hard Fun Video Slides [ PDF ]
Learning Games are Hard Fun Video Transcript [ DOC ]

What Makes Games Work? Video [ ZIP, 91 MB, 540 p ]
What Makes Games Work? Video Slides [ PDF ]
What Makes Games Work? Video Transcript [ DOC ]

Lure of the Labyrinth Game [ Link ]
Learning and Games Chapter [ PDF ]

2. Learning Games are Hard Fun

Eric Klopfer gives an overview of the course and talks about how “learning games are hard fun.”

Transcript [ DOC ]

3. What Makes Games Work?

Scot Osterweil talks about “what makes games work?” and introduces Lure of the Labyrinth for the first assignment.

Transcript [ DOC ]

4. Assignment

For this week, you’ll be playing Lure of the Labyrinth, a game that was designed at the MIT Education Arcade, and played by thousands of students. The game targets the subject areas of math and literacy, but has other applications as well.


Play Lure of the Labyrinth

  • Log in as a student to play the game. Immerse yourself as a student would, and play through several levels and puzzle areas.
  • Hint: In the game world, find the maps in your possession to locate your assignment.
  • Complete a few levels and at least 4 puzzles.

Think About

Once you have completed at least a couple of levels of several puzzles, How you might use Labyrinth in your class if you were a teacher in one of the related subject areas? You should consider issues like:

  • Where would students play the game? As homework or as classwork?
  • When in the sequence would students play the game? Before or after a topic was introduced?
  • What would you use in conjunction with the game? Lectures? Worksheets? Readings?
  • How would you assess student progress and learning? In game feedback (assume that you could see how many times each student tried and succeeded or failed on each puzzle)? Traditional tests? Observations of student play?
  • What activities could you structure around the game to make it more useful? Have students work in teams and support each other? Play the game in the context of learning enough to solve a problem given to them at the beginning of class?


Read “Learning and Games” by Jim Gee, a chapter from The Ecology of Games edited by Katie Salen.

  • What quote or idea from the chapter surprised or provoked you to reflect on your assumptions about learning and games?