Gros, B. (2007). Digital games in education: The design of games-based learning environments. Journal of Research on Technology in Education 40(1), 23-38.
This article is a literature review on digital game-based learning and should lead to some great resources. DGBL stretches across many disciplines which each have their own focus and terminology, which make a comprehensive lit review difficulty. Research on DGBL in the field of education started to grow in the late 1990’s.
1st generation of educational games: called “edutainment.” This failed because the games were too simplistic in comparison to the commercial games. Also, the games were repetitive, poorly designed and did not support progressive understanding.
2nd generation: focused on the cognitive approach with the learner as the center of attention.
3rd generation: looked at the broader process of educational uses of computer games. This stressed the teacher as a facilitator who could provide the games with a social context.
(Egenfeldt & Nielsen, 2005)
The article goes on to talk about statistics of computer game users among children. Many studies have been done on the abstract learning effects, like improved mental rotation skills, ability to read iconic images, and divided visual attention/keeping track of multiple things.
Squire (2005) points out that the difference between e-learning and games is the focus on content vs. the gaming experience. Researchers think games don’t support “textual understanding” as much as other media, but do support: conceptual learning, problem solving, cooperation, and practical participation.
Greenfield (1996) found that games help learning through observation and hypotheses testing and that they “broadened understanding of scientific simulations.” The biggest disadvantage of games is the amount of time they take.
In author’s games, they strove towards learning environments that include 1) experimentation 2) reflection 3) activity 4) discussion
They found games to be most beneficial to less-advanced learners, though this is not supported in other researchers’ work. Little research has been done so far on how the knowledge gained in games transfers to other places.