What is Game-based learning?


Game-based learning in fiction, as far as this concept of learning goes, Ender’s Game, the 1985 military science fiction novel by American author Orson Scott Card is perhaps one of the earliest examples of game-based learning in fiction. Without spoiling the plot for you, Ender is accepted into the battle school, a military training school situated in Earth’s orbit where cadets participate in competitive war simulation sin zero gravity. After perfecting various battle situations Ender is told that he is about to undergo his final test but there is a shocking surprise at the end of it. Was it a game or was it a reality? Although this is a fictional story it does bring to question the use of games for learning, what better way to experience and plan a dangerous situation than to practice in a made-up setting.

The technological advancements in the late 1900s led to many incredible developments of which simulations are just one. These are imitations of a real-world process or system and could be considered as an early form of game-based learning in some circumstances. The first simulation game is said to have been created by Thomas. T. Goldsmith Junior and Estle Ray Mann which was a simple game which involved firing a missile at a target though this is not something the military used to practice firing missiles, it did pave the way to future military simulations also known as war games which, later on, became very popular which are now used to test theories of warfare and are used to redefine techniques without the need of actual hostilities. Yet this is not the only educational use of simulations, pilots practice flying techniques, doctors practice and refine techniques to perform life-saving surgeries and astronauts practice dangerous space missions. In many ways using simulations for educational purposes have helped us to achieve some of the greatest escapades.


VR or virtual reality is also one of the major contributors in the world of game-based learning, although the exact origins of virtual reality are highly disputed because it has been extremely difficult to formulate an exact definition of an alternative existence, however, Virtual reality as we know it today really started to develop in the 1990s which saw the first widespread release of the commercial headset for consumers. From 2015 onwards the world started to go mad over VR headsets after the entry of big companies in the market like Google, Apple, Microsoft, Amazon and many others investing a lot of time, money and human resources on VR’s development. Although VR has many uses, game-based learning has lots of potentials and already there are interesting games like ‘Cleanapolis’ where the theme is to fight against climate change.

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