Creating games for learning

There are a million different ways to go about designing games but games for serious purposes such as formative or summative assessment in courses adds another layer of challenge... how do you make the game fun, engaging AND actually assess what you want to assess?

Software such as PowerPoint can be used to create 'Jeopardy' style games using hyperlinks to jump between screens. This makes customising and reusing the games easy, when there are course updates or you just want to repurpose the game for another subject.

Articulate Storylines (or Rise etc) products are another more complex piece of software and product design that will give you even more ideas and options for design and content. E-Learning Brother have a great video on how this can be done although it requires reasonably good understanding of the software to achieve.

But even good old MS Word can be used for game design particularly if you want a board game that engages a group of people in a conversation around a topic. You are only limited to your imagination and how much time you have to give to its development.

Writing the content can take some time, particularly if you need to validate the content or use a subject matter expert.

With plenty of graphic design sites that offer free or cheap design elements, you can have something that looks pretty good, quite quickly - assuming you have some design experience and can find/design a satisfying product without getting too bogged down (always a challenge especially if you are a details person!) .


  • What is the purpose of the game? What do you want to achieve?
  • What curriculum is pertinent?
  • Online or f2f delivery?
  • Does it suit the subject and the participants' abilities and needs (eg are there literacy issues, internet connectivity problems, computing skills?)?
  • What game mechanics do you want to use? (ie game format and method of playing eg Monopoly style, Concentration, snakes and ladders or something else)
  • Does something already exist that can be used or repurposed?
  • Does it add value to the learning experience?
  • What do you want this to look like?
  • How long will they play for? (Volume of learning)
  • How does a player win? Is this relevant? etc

Once you have gone through the process once, the next time it will be easier, faster and simpler. As with all new things, the questions, decisions and design work take time and thinking through to get the best possible outcome. You only have to play a game once to discover that the effort can be worth it when you hear players getting so much more from the experience than anyone thought possible.


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