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Educational game

Educational game

Educational games engage the learner in the game process during which he is acquiring cognitive and/or social skills. Educational games do include card- board- and video games or variations of well known games like Jeopardy and contain a competitve and/or chance component. Participants learn while running through the process of the game. Some games are based on decisions a trainee has to take using both new concepts and previous experiences. Other games demonstrate the effect of a certain set of rules to the trainee or highlight (hidden) assumptions.  A similar concept is used by educational simulation, however in simulations usually stress the interactive component over the competitve and chance component.


Brettspiel, Spiel

You will need


The game hardware (cards, board, powerpoint version of game or device to access videogames)
Clear instructions

Benefits and limitations


  • games can engage students that are afraid of the subject matter
  • games increase the motivation and interaction of the group
  • in addition to the cognitive level games also achieve a learning through the unconcious level, making it more "sticky"
  • due to their pre-defined set of rules games are suitable for teachers with a limited teaching experience
  • students learn about their own behaviour 
  • Games can be set-up to cater for more than one learning style


  • it can be difficult to find the right game for your intended learning outcome
  • setting up games from scratch can be time consuming
  • students might become overambitious
  • Due to the chance component, the learning experiences might vary between individuals/groups

What do I actually do as an instructor/facilitator?

Preparation / before class

You start by identifying the goals of using a game and whether participants work in teams or as individuals. Depending on the goals you either identify an existing game or you need to adapt an existing game or create your own game. Creating your own game can include very simple (e.g. adapting rules of card games) up to the creation of new board of video games from scratch.

Once you have designed/selected a game, you familiarise yourself with the rules and prepare how you will introduce the game rules and the intended learning outcome to the trainees.


Implementation / during class

You introduce the game and its rules to the trainees. Make sure that the assignments are well understood as otherwise you will need to re-explain and thus reducing the acual game time. A method that might help you in clarifying the assignment is to do a quick paired discussion(see example here - link to Heiko's application) You can also do one practice round with the entire class bo ensure that instructions are understood. In most games it is advisable if you wander around to observe whether there are any issues arising where you should facilitate (e.g. conflicts between participants, breaking of rules, unclear assignments)

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Examples and materials

Public Health
Drug Discovery Game

Image credits/copyright

Reproduced with permission from Novartis Pharma AG

Similar Methods



Educational simulations create a virtual and interactive environment. Participants learn while running through this simulated process or series of events. Being part of the simulation the participant has to take decisions using both new concepts and previous experiences. The virtual and interactive environment is either created with the help of computers or by individual impersonating a certain role (e.g. CEO, client). Simulations range from an almost complete reproduction of reality (e.g. flight simulator) to simulations of situations using roleplay (e.g. emergency scenario simulations). A similar concept is used by educational (board) games, however in this case the environment is not interactive and games often focus more on the competitive aspect

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