The earliest games have been used to support training and learning objectives (Coleman, 1971). The first games
and simulations, for specifically educational purposes, were in fact war games, and this trend may partly explain
the diversity of ‘first person’ shoot ‘em up games available in the leisure games market today.
Against a context of the development of computers and in particular personal computing and most recently
the internet, the broadening use of leisure games and simulations has produced an increased interest in how
‘immersive learning’ can be used to support educational practices.
Simulations to date have been widely employed to support specified training needs, in particular to support
professional and vocational training needs, e.g. military, surgical, medical and business training. These
approaches have not necessarily been taken up in areas of more abstract learning, e.g. to support conceptual
and higher level cognition. Simulations, and more recently games, have been used more frequently to practice
scenarios and skills in advance of taking up a professional employment opportunity. The trend for using
simulations in this way has perhaps had an influence upon how games might be used for education and although
these are different forms, there are clear links between the two, not least historically. However while simulations
are regarded as acceptable training tools, games due their association with violence and leisure time activities
have been more widely resisted by tutors and parents alike.
The particular ‘perceptions’ about games is that they are violent and promote aggression, and this partly explains
why learning games are only now becoming part of the toolset of the tutor. Although this trend is clearly changing,
not least because of the widespread success and uptake of games in the leisure field, another contributing factor
has been because developers have begun to realise the educational potential of opening up a market for selling
these newly branded types of games.
This report presents the findings of a literature review alongside a set of case studies of game-based learning
from everyday practice contexts.