Video Game Behaviour and Education Practices

Blog Task #2: How might game playing behaviour influence or inform education practices?


The integration of digital games based learning (GBL) resources and activities in education environments should consider psychological aspects of learners’ experiences. A more detailed knowledge of the psychological effects that video games have on learners can assist in the creation of quality GBL resources and pedagogically sound activities that encourage and motivate learning as well as avoiding the potentially harmful effects of gaming addiction. King, Delfabbro and Griffiths (2010) have identified a range of positive and negative aspects related to video game technologies in a new taxonomy that is beneficial for approaches to GBL teaching and learning because it assists in analysing the psychological effects of video games in the classroom. Research into GBL has intensified in recent years with the results of longitudinal studies and subsequent efforts to apply consistent evaluation frameworks toward the technical, cultural and social aspects of educational games (Mayer et. al., 2014; Escudeiro and Escudeiro, 2012). King, Delfabbro and Griffiths (2010) argue that their taxonomy can assist in the development of further research into video game structures that have affordances for increased cultural and social awareness into the psychology of video games in the classroom.

GBL researchers such as Prensky (2005) and Gee (2005) have consistently advocated the value of video games in education, yet de Freitas and Maharg (2011) highlight the difficulties experienced by educators in their adoption. A significant barrier to classroom integration has been the fear of negative experiences associated with excessive use of video games and King, Delfabbro and Griffiths (2010) argue that this is because of structural similarities with gambling machines. Gee (2005) identifies the important similarities that problem based strategies inherent in children’s video games have with psychological studies on thinking and learning. These socio- cultural psychological theories are also being used to help develop video games known as serious games (SG) that are designed to educate people in an ethical approach to their roles as global citizens (McGonical, 2011).

The technological affordance of ‘just in time’ (Gee, 2005) feedback in educational video games has been identified by King, Delfabbro and Griffiths (2010) to be one of the most important features of enjoyment experienced by players of games. Escudeiro and Escudeiro (2012) suggest that their Quality Evaluation Framework (QEF) and the implementation of Dynamic Difficulty Adjustment (Liu, Agrawal, Sarkar and Chen, 2009; Bellotti et. al., 2013) as they relate to measurement factors of game psychology can help to measure and ensure the quality of educational games. The most significant aspect of motivating game players’ participation is attaining a state of ‘flow’ and is defined by a balance between game challenge and player abilities or skill (Csikszentmihalyi, 1997; Chen, 2007; Koepp, et. al., 1998; Prensky, 2001, 2002, 2005) (Images 1 and 2). Escudeiro and Escudeiro (2012) argue that in serious games a state of flow can be achieved through the use of strategic initiatives and the development of sophisticated knowledge needed for higher order thinking tasks in serious games (Image 3). In this way a new paradigm can be theorised that seeks to balance video game behaviour and education practices.

Challenging learners who can utilise GBL resources and activities at a variety of social levels is consistent with the current cultural popularity of video games in mainstream society. King, Delfabbro and Griffiths have made a valuable contribution to the more specific areas of psychological research in the overall efforts to develop a consistent academic framework to an evaluation of video games for teaching and learning.




Bellotti, F., Berta, R., Carvalho, M., De Gloria, A. and Wiedemann, A. (2013). Serious Games Design A tutorial. Retreived from:


Chen, J. (2007). Flow in games (and everything else). Communications of the ACM, 50(4), 31-34.


Csikszentmihalyi, M. (1997). Finding flow: The psychology of engagement with everyday life. Basic Books.

de Freitas, S. and Maharg, P. (2011). Constructions of games, teachers and young people in formal learning, Chapter 8 in S. Freitas & P. Maharg, Digital games and learning (pp, 176-199)


Escudeiro, P. and Escudeiro, N. (2012). Evaluation of Serious Games in Mobile Platforms with QEF: QEF (Quantitative Evaluation Framework). In Wireless, Mobile and Ubiquitous Technology in Education (WMUTE), 2012 IEEE Seventh International Conference on (pp. 268-271). IEEE.


Gee, J.P. (2005). Good video games and good learning. Phi Kappa Phi Forum, 85(2), 33-3


Helen. (August 14, 2012). Why are games good for learning? Retrieved from:


King, D., Delfabbro, P. and Griffiths, M. (2010). Video game structural characteristics: A new psychological taxonomy. International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction, 8(1), 90-106.


Koepp, M. J., Gunn, R. N., Lawrence, A. D., Cunningham, V. J., Dagher, A., Jones, T., … and Grasby, P. M. (1998). Evidence for striatal dopamine release during a video game. Nature, 393(6682), 266-268.


Liu, C., Agrawal, P., Sarkar, N. and Chen, S. (2009). Dynamic difficulty adjustment in computer games through real-time anxiety-based affective feedback. International Journal of Human-Computer Interaction, 25(6), 506-529.


Mayer, I., Bekebrede, G., Harteveld, C., Warmelink, H., Zhou, Q., Ruijven, T. … and Wenzler, I. (2014). The research and evaluation of serious games: Toward a comprehensive methodology. British Journal of Educational Technology, 45(3), 502-527.


McGonigal, J. (2011). Reality is broken: Why games make us better and how they can change the world. Penguin.


Murphy, E. (February 21, 2008). The Psychology of Immersive Learning Simulations (Part 4): Flow Theory. Retrieved from:


Prensky, M. (2001). Fun, play and games: What makes games engaging. Digital game-based learning, 5, 1-05. Retrieved from:


Prensky, M. (2002). The motivation of gameplay: The real twenty-first century learning revolution. On the horizon, 10(1), 5-11. Retrieved from:


Prensky, M. (2005). Computer games and learning: Digital game-based learning. Handbook of computer game studies, 18, 97-122. Retrieved from:


3 thoughts on “Video Game Behaviour and Education Practices

  1. This is quite an in-depth response, and uses references to do this – more than was expected I think 🙂 Looking forward to getting Dean’s response, but I appreciate that you have highlighted the importance of ‘flow’ in the experience, as well as pinpointing value of the framework.

  2. This is a well presented balance. I liked that you described “potential harmful effects of games” as despite over a decade of claims of addiction (Kimberley Young kicked it off in 1999), the debate about games has been consumed into the older, ongoing debate about media-effects in general. One issue with much of the psychological science research is their use of experimental approaches, which Gee has dismissed for examples as unrealistic of the real world we live in.

    Social aspects of games are as you say important and useful. These things are also some of the ‘soft-skills’ which some teachers find difficult to generate though conventional lessons or assessments.


  3. Ian, I just want to say that the blog post is a terrific response to the question, and uses literature well to provide the reflective piece. I also want to say your writing has come along in leaps and bounds since INF530 – beautifully focused and concise. Great job!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *