I think many of us in the network have come across, at some time or other, people who question the value of using games in the classroom. In my case working in teacher training, often focusing on the use of games, it is quite frequent to hear teachers express a range of arguments against the idea of using games as part of their practice. For just a few examples have a look at the accompanying infographic.

Clearly these resistances have to be addressed, if we wish to engage teachers, parents, administrators, policy makers, even kids in the use of games. During this month we want to explore the different kinds of resistance, sharing experiences, and ways of addressing the issues that are often raised.

We would like to start by identifying what the principle resistance arguments are. What reasons have you heard?

  • That infographic offers some interesting examples of resistance, certainly arguments against GBL that frequently appear in the media. 

    From a personal perspective I have heard teachers consistently argue against using games in their classrooms due to time constraints. Time to choose a game, time to learn how to play it, to apply it to subjects, to measure learning value, to create lesson plans or indeed to use it effectively within the time limits of a lesson. 

    While games created specifically for use in the classroom are often accompanied by lesson plans and advice, good practice examples are vital for showing teachers how to use commercial off-the-shelf games for learning. But this alone is rarely the solution as tackling one argument often unearths another reason for resistance. This topic is a great opportunity to highlight the issues and offer a collection of solutions, experiences and recommendations. 

  • Fully agree with Roisin. However, in my experience, teachers do not explicitly refer to the time constraints because they are afraid that people would see them as not wanting to invest their time in improving themselves. So they rather go for arguments like the lack of credibility of games, the motivation for violence they can promote in children, etc.

  • Another aspect which I think is relevant is potential resistance of Gamers, or perhaps more accurately, people familiar with games (which I would imagine constitute a large % of young people nowadays) towards serious games, or using games in the classroom.

    Although generally excellent for motivation, I think that using games in the classroom can be met with resistance by experienced gamers for a number of reasons

    • For various reasons, very often the quality of serious games (graphics, gameplay, "fun" factor) can be much further below that of commercial games which students would typically play. Using games in the classroom, I think, needs to involve laying out very clear speific instructions, otherwise gamers think "there's nothing to do" 
    • Commercial games which teachers may use in the classroom may not be to the taste of experienced gamers - e.g.: students may be dismissive of using something like WOW for teaching if they play a lot of competitive, violent games, like Call of Duty or lots of First Person Shooters.
    • It can be hard to get users to play a game for something other than its core gameplay loops/ purposes - e.g.: if you use sim city to try to teach about environmental issues, you may need to deviate from the main gameplay purposes of building the rest of the city, which students might resist. Essentially, you have to "go against the game" for the purposes of learning.
    • Students may not like to mix business and pleasure!



  • Teachers and parents say: learning is serious, games are fun.
    I think learning should be fun too. Then it's much easier to engage students.
    But not all aspects in life are fun and engaging. What will teach as to focus to solve situations that are not engaging and nice? Should we leave them to somebody who is obsessed in nasty things?

    Some asked from the hangman why he is doing this kind go job? "Everybody need's something to live," He replied.

  • I also have feeling that kids don't like educational games. Never tell them that some game is serious or it has learning goals. Learning and playing are totally different things to them. So we should have different approaches to teachers/parents and students. Kind of conspiracy theory against kids - we ask them to play and have fun but in reality they hiddenly learn something.

  • I think it is necessary to distinguish between "fun", and "funny" which are two very different concepts. Despite their similar spelling. Fun is more about engagement and flow, than light or laughter. Very serious topics and discussions can be engaging and "fun" in their way. I have seen kids play for hours without a smile, highly focused, and then say it was "fun".  It seems to me that the false opposition of fun and serious  gets in the way of understanding what the use of games in education is about, and that it also generates some of the key resistances.

  • This is an interesting point that Darragh raised, one would assume that the learners, or young students, would relish the thought of using games for learning, particularly in the classroom. Many arguments on the area suggest that one key issue for resistance is the divide between "digital natives" and "digital immigrants" but perhaps this isn't as large a concern as others. Perhaps, the issue of credibility that Carlos mentioned is an issue for both teachers and students. 


  • I agree with Nick that there is a big difference between fun and funny. We should rather call it engaging. In principle, neither kids nor teachers like to be pushed. But they do like to be engaged into something what interests them. This is what needs to be the key feature of educational games.

  • In the Bohemian lands there is a tradition since the 16th century promoting Learning by Playing. At the time it was a sort of a “heretic” approach of Jan Amos Komensky. He had incredible educational results, as you can imagine at the time. His principles were of course forbidden and forgotten at the time. And nowadays we are successfully re-discovering them. I fully agree with Bozena that engaging is the key point.

  • A parent and researcher offers some negative effects that the popular game, Minecraft has on children, despite the fact that they are encouraged to play it for educational reasons. 

    The game, like other immersive game environments is a multi-discipline learning tool and is seen as engaging, challenging, goal orientated but also addictive. Resistance due to fears of overuse might be just as important as reluctance to use games in the first place.  



  • Based on the responses we have received from this topic, a summary of the issues and causes for resistance is provided below. We will be categorising these in the coming days and hope to expand on these causes while also sharing some experiences and solutions. Can you add anything to this list?


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