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Games as Education Mind Map: How Games Support Engagement and Learning

Games are a strategy which supports deeper learning for several reasons.  The benefits of learning through game play are various, but this mind map will hopefully succeed in categorizing the specific benefits into distinct ways of considering the educational value of games.  Because games have specific rules and rewards, developing an understanding of games improves systems thinking.  The world we live in is made up of several physical and social systems, and by understanding what makes a game fair and rewarding, we can conceptualize better systems for our future.  Complex concepts can also be scaled up or down to improve understandings of specific systems and how they relate to other systems.  Social/emotional learning also strongly benefits from game play because games create social rewards for skills and knowledge.  Games encourage people to connect and cooperate in nuanced ways, and communities can be formed around a particular game without playing directly.  Games also utilize role-play, which allows people to personalize their experience with concepts, explore strategies through experience, and understand the challenges of others.  Role-play and gaming have always been particularly rewarding parts of my life, and I hope to bring the excitement of game play to my students’ educational experiences.  Similarly to a game, this mind map takes the complex information I’ve gathered and makes is simple and engaging for others to experience.

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Virtual Escape Room: Bringing Classical Drama to Modern Games

Escape rooms are complex puzzles which create opportunities for participants to seek out information and apply it to reach their goal.  They are popular activities for friends to engage in, and are often used for team building within companies.  Most importantly, a virtual escape room can be a fun and engaging way to review a topic before an assessment! Instead of being tasked with reading a review packet, students have an opportunity to recall their learning in a way that activates their desire to complete a challenge.

I’ve constructed a simple escape room based on Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare.  To complete the escape room, you will require the play, available for free in the link below.  I hope you enjoy it, and maybe even remember something about one of the greatest tragedies in literature!


SPECIAL NOTE: The password is all lowercase, one word.  If you get the wrong password, you must close the password box to try again, or it will continue to say it is wrong.  This is a flaw in the design software!  

Romeo and Juliet Virtual Escape Room

Free text of Romeo and Juliet

Video Game Autoethnography: How The Last of Us Part II Perfects the Revenge Story

Video games are becoming an increasing part of our culture, and as technology in video games continually evolves, so do the possibilities for video games to tell compelling narratives. Players used to have to experience a video game narrative through text-based dialogue, polygon-shaped characters, and low-quality music and sound design. This generation of gamers, however, can experience games which are highly cinematic, utilizing and combining the highest quality of writing, acting, programming, visual art, and music.  As an educator, I see great educational and literary value in video game narratives, and seek ways of utilizing them to engage my students.  This autoethnography details my personal experiences, insights, and empirical research concerning the critically-acclaimed, yet controversial video game, The Last of Us Part II (2020), developed by Naughty Dog.


The Last of Us Part II is a revenge story.  Stories of revenge have been told through several mediums across literature and entertainment, and often the point is made that revenge is a self-destructive action with little satisfaction. This is also reflected in the story of The Last of Us Part II, but never before has the audience been able to take on the role of the characters and experience their perspectives so directly. Playing in role provides a richer, more nuanced experience for audiences compared to merely observing, and provides greater opportunity for social-emotional reflection and learning through narrative study.

Click here for the Full Autoethnography.

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Games as Learning

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Gee, J., & Hayes, E. R. (2010). Women and Gaming: The Sims and 21st Century Learning [E-book]. Palgrave Macmillan.


McGonigal, J. (2011). Reality is Broken: Why Games Make us Better and How They Can Change the World. Penguin Books.


Sunden, J. (2012). Desires at Play: On Closeness and Epistemological Uncertainty. Games and Culture, 7(2), 164–184.

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