The very idea of using video games for education might seem bizarre. Many people
might consider video games, at best, a waste of time and, at worst, even
harmful. But, in fact, research by a number of researchers since during the last
three decades or so has shown that well-designed games can be extremely
effective in helping students develop deep conceptual understanding of
conceptual topics, including STEM topics such as physics and computer
science. Whether these games, by themselves, can allow students to
learn difficult topics in these fields or whether they should be used as a
supplement to classroom instruction may be debated but what the existing
research shows is that games can, indeed, be of considerable value in STEM
Current State of the Field
In spite of this potential, relatively few STEM games have been developed, especially at the high school and college levels. The following links provide pointers to some of the existing games and papers that discuss the potential of games for STEM education:
One of the main reasons why there are not many more games on more STEM topics is
related to the cost of developing video games. Commerical game companies are
unlikely to put in the effort into developing such games until they are
reasonably sure of the market. And that is not likely to develop until educators
see the value of such games for their students. Which, in turn, will depend on
the availability of such games. In order to break this cycle, a number of games
have to be developed by researchers in universities, in consultation with
interested educators. The current project hopes to make a contribution to this
The immediate goal of the current project, which is supported in part by by a
small grant from the Interdisciplinary Innovation Team Development (IITD)
program at Ohio State, is to create a handful of prototype games, the planned
initial games being related to quantum physics, Newtonian mechanics and a
number of topics in computer science such as network security. Additional
details will be available at this site as the games are developed.
The team includes Dr. Neelam Soundarajan (PI), Dr. Rajiv Ramnath (both of the
CSE Dept.) and Dr. Kui Xie (of the Dept. of Educational Studies). Two
undergraduate students, Aaron Post and Joshua Varghese, have been working with
Neelam on the design and implementation of a game called Einstein's
Quest for quantum physics dealing, specifically, with the concepts
of superposition of states and collapse of a superposed state
to one of those states upon observation. Another student, Amarth Chen, was
actively involved in the design of the game. A (plain text) document detailing
the design of the game is available here.
A (very) preliminary version of the game is available here; at least one game controller is needed to play the game. A YouTube video of the game is available here. Comments are welcome but please note again that this is a very preliminary version and very much subject to change.
- Gee, J. P. (2013). Games for learning. Educational Horizons, 91(4), 16-20.
- Gee, J. P. (2003). What video games have to teach us about learning and literacy. Computers in entertainment (CIE), 1(1), 20-20.
- Gee, J. P. (2007). Good video games+ good learning: Collected essays on video games, learning, and literacy. Peter Lang.
- Perrotta, C., Featherstone, G., Aston, H., & Houghton, E. (2013). Game-based learning: Latest evidence and future directions. Slough: nfer, 1-49.
- Pivec, P. (2009). Game-based learning or game-based teaching?.
- Prensky, M. (2003). Digital game-based learning. Computers in Entertainment (CIE), 1(1), 21-21.
- Squire, K. (2011). Video Games and Learning: Teaching and Participatory Culture in the Digital Age. Technology, Education--Connections (the TEC Series). Teachers College Press. 1234 Amsterdam Avenue, New York, NY 10027.
- Shaffer, D. W., Squire, K. R., Halverson, R., & Gee, J. P. (2005). Video games and the future of learning. Phi delta kappan, 87(2), 105-111.
- Blunt, R. (2007, November). Does game-based learning work? Results from three recent studies. In Proceedings of the Interservice/Industry Training, Simulation, & Education Conference (pp. 945-955). Orlando^ eFL FL: National Defense Industrial Association. (Presents the flip-side.)