Understanding Video Games text-book
Thoughts on learning in games and designing educational computer games

Date posted: May 19, 2006
Updated: Oct 24, 2006

By Simon Egenfeldt-Nielsen, egenfeldt@game-research.com
PhD student, IT University of Copenhagen, Co-founder Game-Research

For years, there have been ambitions about using games for learning purposes but without much success. This article analyses Age of Empires II and Counter-Strike to identify some typical game dynamics that have learning potential and discuss the learning consequences of the different strategies for game design: branching and layered approach.

Games can be considered one of the finest champions of the new learning paradigm evolving around the individual handing over power from the holder of knowledge to the seeker. This tradition is perhaps most well known in the work of Seymour Papert (1993), which expand Piaget’s basic idea of the learner as constructing knowledge. Seymour Papert stresses the importance of physical representations to support this construction process for example mathematics could be taught through programming a polygon or circle.

However, until now eager game developers and teachers have not managed to take full advantage of the learning potential in games. In this paper, I will try to sketch the current situation and give some pointers to how researchers and educators could think differently about learning in games.

My initial starting point is that in collaboration producer, researcher, subject expert and educators can make games where the objective is to facilitate student’s learning but that this is a difficult path, where we risk sacrificing the game part along the way. This in itself would not be a problem if it were not for potential problem that the very argument for using games for learning, that they are fun, vanishes along with the game part (Smith & Mann, 2002).

There are several problems to consider when considering whether games have learning potential, and this article will try to identify some of them by looking at Counter-Strike and Europa Universalis from a learning perspective. Broadly, we can distinguish between three perspectives, which each warrants attention:

1. Using educational games for formal learning at school: The process of making games that contains and nurture learning in relation to different aspects reaching from factual knowledge to more strategic competences.
2. Using entertainment games to motivate or supplement learning at school: Specifically playing games with the intention of facilitating learning. These games are not necessarily made with a specific learning topic in mind.
3. Using educational games for informal learning during leisure time: The game is not played in a learning context (for example a school) but is drawn upon as a resource and important part of the youth culture today.

One of the common denominators of the different perspectives above is that the very notion of using games for learning challenges our understanding of: What games are? What they can be used for and how we understand learning? In this article I will primarily concentrate on the third perspective: making games for learning purposes.

Initially I will make a short comment on the difference between games that are specifically constructed for learning and games with learning aspects. The most well known learning games are called edutainment. These games purposely combine education and entertainment with tight focus on the educational part. The games are often simple and the knowledge is fed to the player in chunks separated from the games like in the Danish game Chefren’s Pyramid. In the edutainment game Chefren’s Pyramid you start with a presentation of Egyptian history and many facts that you scroll through this and some times read. Then you start the game, where you walk inside a Pyramid finding different puzzles like playing Backgammon or solving a puzzle – but these game dynamics have no connection to Chefren’s pyramid that the game are supposed to teach about.
In the best cases, the knowledge you wish to convey to the player is part of the game experience like in Bronkie the Bronchiasaurus. Here you have primers for the information you wish to convey, as a natural part of the game dynamics and necessary for succeeding in the game.
The term edutainment is actually an elastic term as people tend to put a lot of games in to this category and game companies often do so because it gives goodwill with parents who don’t read review in computer magazines. This is clear when talking to Danish producers of edutainment titles. Many Danish edutainment producers embrace the label of edutainment because they believe that parents value prefer educational game titles over purely recreational titles - for them edutainment is a great brand.
Never the less, an understanding is emerging that if you are to make good edutainment games you must turn to commercial game companies. In the long run children are far too smart to be cheated by discount games. If we look at the game titles that dominate the commercial hit charts it is clear that these are not discount games but is the product of state-of-the-art in all areas necessary to make a game: programming, visualizing, animating, game designing etc. It is important that the children think of the game as cool and perceive it as similar to other commercial titles – if not, the learning has taken too much game out of the game (for example Sawyer, 2002).
To some degree the game Bronkie and Virtual U are successful when it comes to making learning games that compete with commercial titles. But still it seems that commercial titles like Age of Empires II, Championship Manager, Roller Coaster Tycoon, Simcity 3000 and The Sims are more successful. This is both the case in relation to popularity as a game, which is hardly surprising considering the budgets behind, but ironically enough often also in respect to facilitating learning. However, this is mostly based on hunches, personal experience, and secondary evidence in articles. The number of studies that assess learning in games are very few, one of the few exceptions being Debra Lieberman (2001).
Even though it seems that, it is in these commercial games that the learning potential lies and if we are to use the increased motivation and learning in games we must look here. We must ensure that the learning does not make us forget the game part and thereby jeopardize the fun factor. Although these games do contain some information, they are to a large degree valuable in relation to so-called general competences like analysing, general view, system understanding and abstract thinking. Following this account, it should be clear that edutainment is for me not a viable course. Rather I will concentrate on learning games as such.
Fun versus learning?

Often when researchers think of edutainment and learning games, they tend to wrestle with the problem of how to balance the fun part and the learning (Smith & Mann, 2002). The very argument for many educators when using games for facilitating learning is that the games make it fun and engaging. It almost seems like fun and learning are contradictory, however this is far from the case. Learning is a very important drive for humans. Melanie Klein and Wilfred Bion operate with a basic epistemophilic desire (Hinshelwood, 1991), which is a basic drive for gaining knowledge at the same level as lust. Accordingly for humans this desire is as strong as the desire for having fun, and to a large degree games are indeed about exploring and finding out what is behind the next door. Gathering, learning and mastering the game universe through interaction, is triggered by this basic epistemophilic desire.
The desire to use games for learning is not a consequence of children not wanting to learn and need to be ‘talked into it’ through fun games. In accordance with Bion and Klein, learning is a natural part of human activity. Therefore, the desire to use games must stem from problems in the current learning praxis in the educational system. These flawed learning environments typically found in educational settings should be looking to games for some of the solutions for making learning more interesting. Going into these flaws in greater detail is beyond the scope of this article but in short, the criticism is aimed at the schools perception of knowledge, information, learning and the pupil. The schools perception and structure is build on a paradigm that is out of tune with the existing society, in schools knowledge is still conceived as objective and the pupil is considered a receiver of knowledge rather than a seeker. These misperceptions have historical roots and are to a high degree attached to the changes set in motion by the printing press and the new middle class as described by Aries (1962) and Postman (1982). Although teachers, researchers and society are calling for a different approach to learning, the educational system is quite rigid in its ongoing adjustment due to structures like curriculum, physical appearance of classrooms, parent’s expectations, resource allocation, and teaching equipment. The educational systems vary from country to country but although this analysis build on the Danish educational systems the problems facing other counties are not believe to be less but rather higher, as the changes in Nordic Countries seem to be more accelerated than in other countries [1].
If we apply our general faulty/inadequate understanding of learning from the educational system or other settings, we are actually repeating the mistakes already made here. We should therefore be wary of letting the educational system dictate how we construct learning in games, because the learning paradigm in educational systems is to a very large degree a function of space and time: old traditions, small class rooms, teachers, background, politics and training etc. In looking to games, educators are signalling that games have a new and different way of supporting learning, which is more up-to-date than current school praxis.
Facilitating learning in digital games is a new discipline that should take seriously the limits and possibilities of digital games. Ways to develop the discipline of designing appropriate educational game titles are not found within the educational system but rather through cooperation between the game industry and experts within a specific theme in a school subject like medieval trade in the subject history. I will have to say a little more about learning before turning to the analysis of some concrete games and implications for construction of games.
This account of learning in relation to games will be inspired by Bateson theory, where he see learning as change. ‘The word ‘learning’ undoubtedly denotes change of some kind. To say what kind of change is a delicate matter.’ (Bateson, 1972: 283). Bateson goes on to talk about different levels of learning, seeing it as a process going from little change to large change influencing the behavior of the individual. Staying with Bateson, we could start at the lowest level of learning: Zero learning. He states that zero learning is ‘the simple receipt of information from an external event, in such a way that a similar event at a later time (and appropriate) time will convey the same information.’ (Bateson, 1972: 284). The change is a simple given response without reflection or lasting effect on the individual’s behavior for example picking up the phone when it rings or in a game moving the mouse to activate something.

Learning I, could also be called trial-error, and is the most common learning level. Here, you have a given set of options and choose one of them, if it works you continue to do that, if it doesn’t, you try another of the options. So, the difference is that you actually draw on different options, assess them and not simply execute an action like in zero learning. In a game, this could be finding out that to use a specific unit against another unit is a bad idea; therefore you try another one of the available units.

Learning II is a kind of meta-learning, where the set of options presented in learning I is subject to change. You reflect if the set of known options is the only available possibility. In a game, this could be changing your playing style radically from player-killing to role-playing.

Learning III is meta-meta learning where you reflect over the process of learning II. What tools you have for choosing other sets of options. Bateson says this is a rare occurrence, so I will not deal with this learning type further.
As Bateson (1972) says it is hard to say what change is exactly happening but still I will try to distinguish between two different kinds of learning in relation to computer games. Bateson primarily talks about how we learn as different processes of continuity not what we learn. The two categories below can be used to split the different learning parts in games and then compare them with the different learning types. What we should end up with is the ability to both look at learning as change process and as a way to transfer knowledge [2].

* Learning real life: These are elements like facts, behaviors, skills, communication, theories, and language, which are closely connected with what is outside games.
Games are of course always a part of reality and as real as anything as such but still they are simulations of the world drawing to varying degrees on the real life artifacts. They can do this by using facts, inspired by specific ways of doing things and ways to communicate this. Furthermore, it can highlight certain theories that are used in real life like Adam Smiths invisible hand, democracy or Darwin’s theory of natural selection. This type of learning is transfer of specific knowledge.

* Learning conceptually: These are concepts like reasoning, process, procedures, creativity and system understanding. These concepts do to a large degree occur in games and do not demand special knowledge of other areas (in principle). They are often natural given in the very concept of games, where rules, exploration and goals are given game dynamics.
This type of learning covers Bateson’s different learning types as a change process.

Typically when researchers and educators discuss if games can facilitate learning you talk about learning conceptually, for example Simcity, Civilization, Age of Kings, Kings Quest, Counter Strike and Quake. Exceptions are flight and military simulators that are used for training specific facts and skills. Learning conceptually is closely linked to learning II, where you reflect on a given set of circumstances through analysis, general view, and reasoning.
Using the two categories above, I will try to analysis two different commercial titles. However I will not analyze classic games as they have frequently been accentuated as having great learning potential by for example Teachers Evaluating Educational Multimedia (McFarlane, Sparrowhawk & Heald, 2002) and in Marc Prensky’s (2001) book Digital game-based learning. They both point to games like Simcity 3000, Age of Empires II and Civilization III but I will try to show that this phenomenon is much broader and an integrated part of the majority of commercial games.
I focus on one from each of the genres action and strategy not taking into account simulation games, where focus is on providing the real settings no matter the consequences for the game play. Furthermore, I don’t include the adventure genre, as this has often been the starting point for talking about learning in games, for example in relation to puzzles.
Counter Strike: not the right learning?

Counter-Strike is one of the most successful action games since it inception as a modification based on the Half-Life engine.

This game provides ample evidence that what we are actually seeing in Counter Strike is learning like anywhere else [3]. The problem of Counter-Strike is not that it does not contain factually correct data, because it does for example in relation to accuracy of the weapons, uniforms and avatar movement. However, from a society point of view this is not very valuable knowledge as numerous news articles and US Senate hearings attest to.

The most basic premise of Counter-Strike is move and shoot. When you first enter the game this is what you do instinctively. No questions asked (zero learning).
Of course this will not get you anywhere fast, instead you have to figure out the map, be able to plant the bomb and defuse it, know the strengths of each weapon etc. A lot of variables go into this equation all hopefully resulting in you improving your number of frags. You will begin to construct working models for different scenarios and try different approaches. When running on a long open field, you get shot so instead you sneak and seek cover – slowly progressing and improving your ability. You begin to figure out how you can work together taking advantage of different strengths of the weapons and the map (learning I).
Next, you begin to question the working scenarios. Well, if the opponent thinks that I will hide behind the box, perhaps I should just blast right ahead. Perhaps I should hide on the roof, where I am more vulnerable but where he won’t look, before he is dead. Or perhaps altogether redefine the game: it is not about moving and shooting – instead I will ‘camp’ and wait for the other players to come to me, and then shoot them (learning II).

The learning process above is no different than other daily activities. What is missing is a ‘curriculum’ that we like: A curriculum that the game designers are surely not able to produce without experts in different subjects like history, geographic, religion.
Europa Universalis: the facts of the game

This is one of the most successful strategic titles in the last years although not reaching the same popularity as Age of Empires or Command & Conquer series but taking into consideration the company size, and brand awareness they have done extremely well.

The game primarily covers European history from 1419 to 1820 where the player can choose different scenarios within this period or the grand campaign spanning the whole period. You can choose to play as any of the states in the game reaching from France, England, Russia to smaller states like Kleves, Papal States, Denmark or Sweden - a staggering amount of different counties where you can manipulate on different levels to become successful: Military, technology, economy, religion, culture, diplomacy, colonization, fleet, trade etc.
All in all a somewhat more complex game than similar games like Civilization III but much more closely tied to the historical facts and geography but still maintaining degrees of freedom for the player. I talked to the developer Fredrik Malmberg from Paradox Entertainment, who said that the game was built on a board game. Paradox Entertainment says that the philosophy of the computer game was to allow the player to make historical changes, so that it would be more enjoyable to play

“The computer game development was drastically different from the board game and had a much larger design team. While the board game has a deterministic view of history, the philosophy for the computer game was to make historical changes possible to make a more enjoyable game.” Malmberg (2002) Furthermore, he said that they had a member with a PhD in history attached to the design team and the team in general had a keen interest in history. Furthermore, the beta test phase had many ‘historically interested players, commenting and adding research about their various areas of expertise’.
Interestingly, they seem to be describing what I think we should be looking for more of: The combination of subject experts with game development professionals. Moreover, integrate it in a way so facts are more enjoyable. What sets Europa Universalis apart is that it did not set out to encompass certain aspects of history but took it as an important ingredient in the overall playing experience: using the notion of learning as a way to gain compelling material.
The game Europa Universalis requires analysis, overview, reasoning and careful planning like a lot of other games but what really makes a difference is the ability to integrate learning as compelling material thereby also facilitating the transfer of more factual knowledge. A fact demonstrated by the game’s message boards where half of the threads are exclusively for discussing historical issues. The game awakens an interest in the audience for exploring the game issues deeper and finding out about history.
Compelling material builds good game universes

This paper presents arguments supporting the anecdotal evidence in research literature (for example Prensky, 2001) and especially among educators that games increase conceptual learning, such as system understanding, analysis, and overview, but only a few games produce learning needed in school or in real life, or that conveys specific information. This conclusion is supported by McFarlane, Sparrowhawk & Heald (2002:unpaginated) that find that the current games used for facilitating learning lack connection to curriculum in school – the content in the games are to general and inappropriate for fulfilling existing curriculum. In stead, the games are strong on other parameters:

There was a recognition across the age range that games support the development of a wide range of skills which are essential to the autonomous learner. Some of these related directly to the context of the game which developed skills such as problem solving, sequencing, deductive reasoning and memorisation. Others were result of the learning context when children work in groups on a task. These included peer tutoring, co-operation and collaboration, and co-learning. In particular the nature of discussion around the task was valued throughout. This led to development of negotiating skills and group decision-making as well as respect for peers.

The easiest place to approach the learning real life is actually historical scenarios because the audience easily appreciates the historical setting and it is easier to handle for the designer. This is also clear when we look at the current themes that are used for computer games, and titles that are considered to have learning potential. These are mostly in relation to historical themes. The designers and producers choose easily understandable universes like World Wars and historical conflicts - an exception is the widespread use of Dungeons & Dragons universes, but theses are so much a natural part of the game community, that they The history taught in school is written and seems to be in books, where you can read about it. Using real life as inspiration is often more complex and it is harder to obtain interesting, deep and accurate information about real life situations.

What Counter-Strike and Europa Universalis are also very good at is taking the player in the hand from beginner to expert, thereby giving the player a sense of fulfillment. The games are constructed so the universe follows the player. This becomes much harder if you have to be true to real life limitations. In racing games we have an obvious example where the car at the highest level is quite hard to steer because it is closer to real life. In racing games these variable are relatively easy to manipulate for example increase the cars ability to handle crashes. In other games like Simcity it becomes much harder to maintain a realistic use of real life artifacts. Games are made so that they put gameplay and playing experience above simulating the real life and that’s what makes it hard to take the leap from learning conceptually to learning real life. The problem of balancing game dynamics while conveying a specific subject is also supported by the study done by McFarlane, Sparrowhawk & Heald (2002). This is bound to be another challenge in game productions that has to be overcome and which sets limits for what is possible. Furthermore, with a superficial knowledge of the topic a specific game universe is drawing on, it becomes even harder to work creatively around the barriers.
As a further encouragement for use of real life artifacts you can see that the good game universes have different layers that the players can slowly immerse into (see Model 1 below). The example below illustrates the layers in the strategy game Age of Empires II. Here you see that the game progress, the layers of the game is uncovered especially in relation to the units and technology. However if you are not an experience player you will not realize and use the new possibilities that the game offer but stick with the existing layer, that you know work well. It is first when you feel ready that and confident in the first layers that you will dig further into new layers provided by the game.
This should be easier to do by drawing more closely on real life artifacts and

Layered approach Branching approach

Model 1: Show a layered approach, where you progress through different elements of the game making it more complex.
Model 2: Show a branching, where you can choose between a limited set of options at a specific time.

This should be easier to do by drawing more closely on real life artifacts and especially history. This layer approach is instead of branches. With branching you decide on different paths for the player but with layers you construct the game so factors on a deeper level can be uncovered like relations between specific units, countries or items. The game universe must be rich and detailed enough to provide for this, which is often not possible if you do not include enough real life artifacts. One can argue that a lot of games do in fact work well without the use of real life artifacts or in historical settings and a convincing example are the role-playing games like Baldurs Gate, where orcs, trolls and the dynamics of fairy tales make up a deep and engaging universe. However one must not forget the ‘training’ we from childhood have in the world of fairytales. It is perhaps even more detailed described and considered an important play ground by children, than the real world the world of fairy tales is (Bethlehem, 1975).
The branch way is often preferred in game design because it is too hard story line-wise to accomplish a layered universe. In the layered universe you must have everything, all the time, while the branching is slowly expanding and easier to control in relation to interactivity and difficulty for the players. The different approaches are also harder to accomplish in different genres. In strategy games and simulations layered universes are often a natural part of the game, where adventure and role-playing games have been much more oriented towards a branching approach though there have been made several attempts to use the layered approach or a combination. Accordingly a fair amount of titles trying to facilitate learning have turned to adventure games, where there is more tradition for ‘controlling’ the environment and thereby also get the intended information across to the players.
Easing down on the ambitions and being true to the game environment:

An interesting project in relation to facilitating learning in games is Virtual U, which is based on the famous SimCity game but is more oriented towards facilitating knowledge about a specific topic: namely administrating a university. The game tries to put more realistic information into the simulation but still maintain its gameness. However, the game seems quite complex and overwhelming although rather well thought.

A parameter often overlooked in designing learning games is the degree of ability to dig into the games that is favored in different ways by the two models sketched above. The layer approach gives the player the option to choose a new area of the game and explore this. The branching model is more an unfolding game, where the player can choose between different routes but he must do so at specific times, and the number of branches is quite limited. One of the challenges of complex simulations and learning games is to ease down the ambitions. The simulation games have the necessary depth of information but have trouble presenting down. One way would be to focus more on the playability in the first ¼ of the game’s life cycle and then make it necessary for the player to gather knowledge to advance further. For example in Age of Empires you will not be able to advance to higher ages if you do not have the necessary buildings. So it first when you have knowledge of these building and find it finding to build them that you can advance – when you advance to a higher level, the complexity also rise. The ¼ is not a fixed number but is a general notion, that in the first quarter of the game the you should not put to much content and complexity as the user’s learning curve will quickly become to steep, as he is already learning a new user interface and the basics of the game.
Some of the difference between Age of Empires and Virtual U is a function of the game developer’s focus, where Virtual U focuses on learning about administrating a university, commercial games like Age of Empires focus on game dynamics. From an Age of Empire point of view it is most important to make the game easy, playable and long lasting. On the other hand, the developer of learning games is often pressed to present a lot of material fast and thereby making games that have a too steep learning curve in the initial phase of the game. This is to some degree avoided if you use a layered model, what is important in the layered model, is that the different layers are intertwined but in a way so each layer is playable, challenging and enjoyable on its own.
Age of Empires (Microsoft, 1997)Age of Empires II (Microsoft, 1999)

Picture 1: Age of Empires (Microsoft, 1997)
Picture 1: Age of Empires II (Microsoft, 1999)

My thoughts can perhaps best be illustrated through the game Age of Empires. In the sequel the complexity is increased but without severe consequences for the learning curve. The game can still be played in a basic way but giving the player the option for slowly using different opportunities in the game for example advanced movement of armies or using armies together to make them stronger. If you look visually at the two screen dumps below from Age of Empires I and Age of Empires II it is clear that visually the game has not changed much and neither has the user interface. But, on closer examination the player will find that there are huge differences. The interesting part is that when you first play the sequel the experience is not that the game is more complex in relation to the interface, game dynamics or information load. You don’t think or feel that this is all that different or that advanced. However, if you go back to the first game, after playing the sequel for a while, the differences are marked. You find the same pattern in other sequels, patches and mods of popular First-Person Shooters.
Often the underlying model of a game causes educators to become unsure whether a game is suitable for teaching. I believe it has been convincingly argued that games are not capable of giving a full model that will satisfy the same detail and accuracy level that we know from other teaching material. It is therefore necessary to think along new lines, when designing educational game titles (Tomlison & Masuhara, 2000).
Sketching current learning dynamics:

I believe it is possible to identify three basic factors in making learning in games that works together: Play, knowledge and story [4]. Knowledge and story functions as compelling material for the playing experience. Furthermore, story and knowledge share some similar problems in relation to the playing experience in games:

The model below describes two different scenarios. In the first scenario (split screens) we see that often, the specific knowledge that is to be conveyed is placed in cut scenes or separate game areas, with no bearing on the playing experience. This unfortunate tendency is shared when using stories in games especially if you go back and look at games that are a couple of years old (Egenfeldt-Nielsen & Smith, 2000).
Model 3

Model 3: Show the different scenarios, where problems with knowledge and story line overlap and jeopardize the game play.

Model 4
Model 4: Show the relation between play, story and knowledge as a game progress and in relation to different game genres. Play drives the experience but draws on the story and knowledge that is constructed between the player and the game. The different game examples point to different genres potential for delivering learning through story and knowledge.

Model 5

Model 5: This is a snapshot and enlargement of how play and story is intermingled with different chuncks of knowledge to produce learning. Learning emerges as a combination of story and play with the elements of knowledge.

Another scenario is the one to the left, where you put the knowledge on a topic at the start of the game or in the end. This is for example done in the already mentioned game Chefren’s Pyramid.

Instead of this separation of different entities, we have to look at story and knowledge as compelling material for the playing experience. What is important is that we still acknowledge that it is the playing experience that drives the project. However, the playing experience can become stronger and more long lasting by using story and knowledge as the game progresses. Thereby, not fulfilling a separate claim for making more serious games with learning potential but rather using these as valuable assets in constructing interesting game dynamics leading to superior game play.

Model 4 might lead to the faulty conclusion that play, story and knowledge are separate entities. However, this is not the case as the model below shows. Rather learning occurs when knowledge becomes story and story becomes knowledge – in a setting where the player can interact with the universe through interesting game dynamics. It is this trick that is hard to pull but sometimes it is successful like in the game Europa Universalis that I analyzed earlier in this article. Here the historical events are presented and have an impact on the game. The story of the game is historical knowledge and furthermore this knowledge has important bearing on the game, and therefore makes it interesting in the setting of the game, to acquire this knowledge. In combination, model 4 and model 5 show how I believe games should be constructed to facilitate learning and not force learning.

My initial starting point was you are able to make games where learning is facilitated but you risk sacrificing the game part along the way. I believe I have supported this claim. It is not easy to facilitate learning through games; it is an even harder task than making traditional game design, where you have to balance different assets to gain interesting games.

Aries, Philippe (1962). Centuries of Childhood. A Social History of Family Life. London: Cape.

Augedal, Knut & Singstad, Jo (2001). Everquest som læringsplatform (Translation: Everquest as learning platform)
http://www.media.uio.no/forskning/hovedoppgaver/files/hoeverquest.pdf , Date of access: 6 May 2002

Bateson, Gregory (1972). The Logical Categories of Learning and Communication. In: Steps to an Ecology of Mind (2000). Chicago

Bettelheim, Bruno (1975). The uses of Enchantment – The Meaning and Importance of Fairy tales. London: Penguin Books.

Egenfeldt-Nielsen, Simon & Smith, Jonas H. (2000). Den Digitale leg – Om børn og computerspil (Translation: Digital Play – about computer children and computer games). Copenhagen: Hans Reitzels Forlag (Danish only)

Friedman, Ted (1999). Making Sense of Software: Computer Games as Interactive Textuality.
http://www.game-research.com/art_making_sense_of_software.asp, Date of access: 3 April

Hinshelwood, R.D. (1991). A Dictionary of Klenian Thought. F.A. London.

Lieberman, Debra A. (2001). Management of Chronic Pediatric Diseases with Interactive Health Games: Theory and Research Findings. Journal of Ambulatory Care management, Vol. 24, Issue 1, pp. 26-38 (2001)

Malmberg, Frederick (2002). Personal correspondence with Paradox Entertainment regarding Europa Universalis Game development

McFarlane, Angela, Sparrowhawk, Anne & Heald, Ysanne (2002). Report on the educational use of games. Teachers Evaluating Educational Multimedia.
http://www.teem.org.uk/howtouse/resources/teem_gamesined_full.pdf, Date of access: 1 May 2002

Papert, Seymour (1993). The children’s machine: rethinking school in the age of the compute. New York : BasicBooks.

Postman, Neil (1982): The disappearance of childhood. New York: Delacore Press.

Prensky, Marc (2001). Digital game-based learning. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Sawyer, Ben (2002). Serious Games: Improving Public Policy through Game-Based Learning and Simulation. Woodrow Wilson Center. White paper.

Smith, Leslie & Mann, Samuel (2002). Playing the Game: A model for Gameness in Interactive Game Based Learning. Proceedings of the 15th Annual NACCQ, July 2002.

Tomlison, Brian & Hitomi, Masuhara (2000). Using simulations on materials development courses. Simulation & Gaming, Vol. 31, No. 2:152-168.

End notes

[1] I describe the problems with the current educational system in detail in the Danish book “Digitale udfordringer: Informationsteknologi i en skole under forandring”.
[2]I will not go into the problem of transferring knowledge between different contexts but will just note that this is an extremely relevant area, which needs much more work. The question is if you really can use the information from a computer game in another setting.
[3]I will not deal with the potential of learning social skills that is definitely worth considering in relation to Counter-Strike.
[4]I use story in a very pragmatic meaning the content that connect the game over time and space and at the same time frame the game universe.

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