Game-based learning : a long history

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Publication Details
Author list: Mozelius, Peter
Place: Cork
Publication year: 2019


Several studies on Game-based learning (GBL) start out in the era of Tetris and PacMan and are limited to digital learning games. However, the GBL concept has a long pre-history with board games like Kalaha, Xiangxi, Chess and other forms of game having been used for thousands of years in educational contexts, training strategic and tactical thinking, as well as language skills, mathematics and other subjects. Games and play-based learning were well-known didactic ideas in ancient Greece and during the Roman Empire. The oldest African board games were built more than 5000 years ago.

The aim of this study is to analyse and discuss ideas on the role of games in education from a historical perspective. A literature study was carried out with a focus on the intellectual history of educational theory, followed by discussions of a number of key texts. Authors have analysed the changing conceptions of play and games in the context of the philosophy of education.

Findings indicate that the view of games and game-based learning varies between the studied époques. However, the idea of complementing theoretic and abstract education with concrete and motivating play seems to have a constant value. A concept that for several reasons can be even more important in contemporary, technology enhanced mass education.

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