Why analog games now?


Osvaldo Jiménez: 0000-0002-6515-4145

Document Type

Conference Presentation


Computer Science

Conference Title

Proceedings of the European Conference on Games-based Learning

Date of Presentation



Over the past fifteen years, video games have shifted from being seen as merely entertainment to being 'sometimes-useful' tools in educators' lesson planning repertoires (Schrier, 2019). Practicing educators and policy makers have been convinced that games can be good for learning, but many questions about games' reliable and effective implementation remain unanswered (Takeuchi & Vaala, 2014). Fortunately, researchers and developers have begun to advance important questions of practice, including how educational games can be used and designed effectively (Clark et al., 2015), how to improve games' design (e.g., Burke & Kafai, 2014), on understanding the classroom ecologies in which they're being used (Shah & Foster, 2014), and on teachers' professional development around games' use (Jan et al., 2017). Collectively, this research can be seen as the beginning of an exciting field that combines theories of play, learning, and design across a diversity of contexts, whereby games are designed to mediate and support individual and community learning. As our understanding of play-based learning expands beyond childhood learning to include how to design e.g., games for museums or college-aged students, non-digital games can help researchers better understand how play can be designed for and how to best develop formal and informal learning supports, especially in everyday contexts and in ways that are practical. In this paper, we begin with describing some of the challenges of making educational games go viral, or getting effective play-based learning into effective widespread, and sustained practice especially in formal education. To achieve this aim, and to support accompanying research, we frame the issue as the "last mile" problem of game-based learning and propose that expanding the currently disparate research on non-digital games can help overcome this issue. Using two cases of analog game development that were undertaken for research purposes (Author), we describe the dilemmas and key tradeoffs that we have learned through the games' development and use. It is our hope that such a description will allow us to bridge the research being produced in digital games with the potential of non-digital formats and support the more coordinated advance of play-based learning research and development.





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