Game-Like Course Design

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Good video games are highly optimized learning systems, carefully engineered to keep players engaged for long periods of time while they develop and refine skills, explore and become facile navigating novel and often bizarre environments, overcome increasingly difficult challenges at the threshold of their abilities, and piece together understanding of a complex and initially mysterious back-story.

If we can understand how they work, perhaps we develop classroom-based courses that use game-like principles to teach physics more effectively.


Work developing a theoretical model of “video games as learning systems,” to inform game-like course design:

  • (A journal article presenting a detailed model, currently under review; link to a preprint forthcoming when, fingers crossed, it’s accepted for publication.)

  • Learning in Video Games: A Model to Inform Instructional Design: A poster presented in the targeted poster session “Game-Based and Game-Informed Approaches to Physics Instruction” at the 2014 Physics Education Research Conference (PERC) on July 31, as part of the Summer National Meeting of the American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT), Minneapolis MN, Jul 30—31. Warning: Not intended to be self-explanatory; intended as a discussion prop. Best thought of as “the figures that go with the previously-listed paper.”

  • Gaming the System: Video Games as a Theoretical Framework for Instructional Design: An unpublished ArXiv preprint summarizing (very hastily) an earlier version of my model.

  • Improving physics instruction by analyzing video games: A poster presented at the 2012 Physics Education Research Conference (PERC) on August 1, as part of the Summer National Meeting of the American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT), Philadelphia PA, Aug 1—2.

Work experimenting with game-like elements in face-to-face university physics courses: