Part III | Learning through Gameplay

Part III | Learning through Gameplay

Part III of Dissertation Research Series

The way in which users learn through video games has been conceptualized through a model by Garris et al. (2002). They state that the tacit model of learning in most studies of individual games starts with the Input as a game that includes the instructional content is designed with features of games. These then trigger the process of a cycle of user judgements (such as enjoyment), user behavior (engaging in the game play), and system feedback (situated within the game). When the game design is successful, this cycle should promote recurring, self-motivated game play. This successful process will then lead to the outcome, achieving the learning objectives. This model can be seen in the figure above, reprinted from (Garris et al., 2002).

The game cycle being a recursive process is key to the model, as games should motivate users to choose to continue to be engaged in the features as they progress towards the learning outcomes. The authors point out that while it is not represented in the model, they see the learner as actively constructing knowledge from their game play experiences during this process (Garris et al., 2002). The link between the game cycle and learning objectives is represented by debriefing, or reviewing and reflecting on game play in order to ensure game events become learning (Garris et al., 2002).

Prensky argues that when games fail to effectively teach, it’s likely because those games are poorly designed; there is plenty of evidence that well-designed games will produce effective learning (Prensky, 2001).



Garris, R., Ahlers, R., & Driskell, J. E. (2002). Games, Motivation, and Learning: A Research and Practice Model. Simulation & Gaming, 33(4), 441–467. doi:10.1177/1046878102238607

Prensky, M. (2001). Digital natives, digital immigrants Part 2: Do they really think differently? On the Horizon, 9(6), 1–6.


Lindsey Tropf

Lindsey Tropf

Founder & CEO of @immersedgames // School psychology doctoral candidate interested in #edtech, game-based learning, and using data.

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