7 Digital Games

Carrie Lewis Miller

Learning Objectives

  • Summarize the current availability of serious games and digital games for educational purposes
  • Select 2-3 digital games for potential use in your own organizational context

Learning engagement, motivation, problem-solving, logic practice, and risk-free exploration of the content are all benefits of using games in learning (Gee, 2010; Hainey et al., 2013; Lewis et al., 2013).

Digital games are games played on a computer, game system, television, or mobile device.  They can be made specifically for educational purposes, in which case they are often referred to as “Serious Games,” or they can be commercial games such as HaloCall of Duty, or Hearthstone. For a more in-depth reading on the history of digital games, check out A Brief History of Video Games.

Digital games can be designed for single-player, online, co-op, or collaborative play.  Some digital games, such as Final Fantasy XI or EverQuest, fall into the Massive Multiplayer Online (MMO) category, meaning that players worldwide log in to a virtual world to play the game.

Digital games fall into many categories.  Role-playing games (RPGs), first-person shooters (FPS), social games, sports games, casual games, racing games, music games, and combat games are types of digital games that have very different game mechanics, goals, and gameplay.

Gaming Software in education is a growing platform that allows students to acquire knowledge in various subjects through reaching specific game objectives on their electronic devices. Here are a few platforms that would allow you to create your own games or simulations:

GameSalad – GameSalad is a platform that allows users to create 2D games with no programming.

Twine – Twine is a free, text-based game creator geared for those who would like to create Interactive Fiction

Gamestar Mechanic – Gamestar Mechanic uses fun, game-based quests and courses to help you learn game design and make your own video games!

Unity – A real-time game development platform that allows you to create 3D, 2D, VR & AR experiences.


Digital Game Sources


iCivics is a non-profit organization driven by Justice Sandra Day O’Connor’s passion for increasing civics knowledge in K-12 students.  iCivics and Filament Games have developed a suite of games and lesson plans based on various civics and governmental topics.

Filament Games

Filament Games produces games exclusively for learning, relying on their staff of instructional designers and game developers to create games that are based on learning theory.

Center for Games and Impact

The Center for Games and Impact at Arizona State University is the brainchild of Dr. James Gee, one of the top names in educational gaming.  The Center’s mission is to evaluate the impact of games on learning and evaluate the sustainability of gaming models in education.


OpenSimulator is an open platform sim creator that can be used to create a virtual environment.

Making History

The Making History games series provides players an opportunity to work through alternate history events using logic and strategy to determine the course of events for their chosen country.


Get as many followers as you can by creating fake news.

Fake it to make it

A social impact game about fake news.

This War of Mine

Try to survive in a city under siege



Gee, J. P. (2010). Video games: What they can teach us about audience engagement. Nieman Reports, 64(2), 52.

Hainey, T., Westera, W., Connolly, T. M., Boyle, L., Baxter, G., Beeby, R. B., & Soflano, M. (2013). Students’ attitudes toward playing games and using games in education: Comparing Scotland and the Netherlands. Computers & Education, 69, 474.

Lewis, C., Lancaster, J., Savenye, W., & Haas, N. (2013). A formative evaluation of the balance of power game and curriculum. Journal of Applied Instructional Design3(3), 5-16. https://docs.wixstatic.com/ugd/c9b0ce_3456d4cf26e94d7c9c39ae1012d62907.pdf


Recommended Supplementary Material



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Game Based and Adaptive Learning Strategies Copyright © 2021 by Carrie Lewis Miller is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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