Posts Tagged ‘Serious Games’


Konference om digitalisering af læremidler med fokus på læringsspil

May 1, 2011

Konference om digitalisering af læremidler med fokus på læringsspil

16. maj 2011 mødes forskere, politikere, undervisere og repræsentanter fra erhvervslivet til en konference om “Digitalisering af læremidler med fokus på læringsspil”. Det sker på DPU, Aarhus Universitet, i Emdrup.

Konferencen markerer afslutningen på forskningsprojektet “Serious Games on a Global Market Place“, som i 2007 blev støttet af Det Strategiske Forskningsråd med 13 millioner kr.

Projektets forskere præsenterer forskningsprojektets kvantitative og kvalitative forskningsresultater og sætter forskningsresultaterne i et nationalt, og globalt perspektiv. 

Konferencen afsluttes med en paneldebat i tidsrummet kl. 15.10-16.20, hvor politikere, interessenter fra dansk erhvervsliv, undervisningssektoren og forskningsinstitutioner er inviteret til at drøfte spørgsmålet ”Hvad skal der til, for at digitale læremidler og læringsspil bliver brugt i undervisningen?”

Konferencen henvender sig til forskere, undervisere, skoleledere, branche- og interesseorganisationer, beslutningstagere – alle som beskræftiger sig med it og medier i et læringsperspektiv.

Tid: 16. maj 2011 kl. 12.30-17.30
Sted: Festsalen, lokale A220, på DPU, Aarhus Universitet, Tuborgvej 164, 2400 København NV

Program for dagen

Pris: 130 DKK

Tilmelding senest 12. maj 2011


Shifting ontologies of a serious game and its relationships with English education for beginners

March 29, 2011

Just want to raise awareness of a series of papers to be published in a special issue of E-learning and Digital Media, Vol 8, issue 3, 2011.

The call for papers is copy-pasted below:

“Media: Digital, Ecological and Epistemological

Special issue of E-Learning and Digital Media, Editor Dr. Norm Friesen

Media today are everywhere. From educational gaming through portable e-texts to cell phones ringing in class, it seems we can’t escape. Nor can we live without media; instead, they form a kind of ecology that we inhabit. In addition, media have an epistemological function; they shape both what we know and how we come to know it: “Whatever we know about our society, or indeed about the world in which we live,” as Niklas Luhman observed, “we know through… media.”

Speaking of media in education suggests a range of possibilities that are different from what is suggested by educational technology (electronic, digital or otherwise). Describing computers and the Internet specifically as digital media casts their role not as mental tools to be integrated into instruction, but as “forms” and “cultures” requiring “literacies” or acculturation. In this way, speaking of media in education brings instructional environments more closely together with the world outside. Explorations of these terms and possibilities have been initiated by the likes of Marshall McLuhan, Neil Postman and Elizabeth Eisenstein, and they are also touched upon in research on media literacies. However, more recent theoretical developments and accelerated mediatic change –from blogging through networked gaming to texting and sexting– offer innumerable opportunities for further exploration.

This special issue of E-Learning and Digital Media invites contributions that focus on media, particularly digital media, and their ecological and epistemological ramifications. Specific topics may include:

  • School and classroom as media (ecologies) and the changing world outside
  • Digital challenges to media literacy and literacies
  • Media socialization and media education
  • Histories of media and education
  • The epistemological character of (new) media”

To see the draft of table of contents for this special issue:  Issuecontents ELEA 8_3_proof

Our paper:

Shifting ontologies of a serious game and its relationships with English education for beginners

Publication: Research – peer review › Article

This paper takes its point of departure in a language project, which is a subproject under the larger ongoing (2007-2011) research project Serious Games on a Global Market Place. The language project follows how the virtual universe known as Mingoville ( becomes an actor in English education for beginners. The virtual universe provides an online environment for students beginning to learn English in schools and at home. This paper will focus on the shifting ontologies of Mingoville and teaching and learning situations in beginners’ English. This paper takes its point of departure in neither Mingoville as part of the media ecologies of the classroom, nor in the epistemological ramifications of Mingoville. Instead, it suggests that opening up the shifting ontologies of Mingoville (i.e. what mediates Mingoville and its relationships with doing beginners English) may offer a different and useful approach to understanding how Mingoville becomes a multiple actor. It reveals that such an actor both influences, and is influenced by, manifold constitutive entanglements involved in organizing English teaching and learning activities for beginners. Theoretically and methodologically, the paper, the empirical gatherings and analysis, are inspired by science and technology studies (STS) and actor-network-theory (ANT). The arguments and descriptions provided throughout the paper will focus on the shifting ontologies of Mingoville as it moves into, and out of, different teaching and learning situations of English for beginners.
Original language English
Journal E-Learning and Digital Media
Publication date 2011
Volume 8
Journal number 3
Number of pages 24
ISSN 1741-8887


  • English education for beginners, e-learning, Digital learning resources, Virtual worlds, primary and lower secondary school, media and ICT, ANT (Actor-Network-Theory), Entanglement approach, Relational Ontology, serious games, Educational technology research


Hansbøl, M., & Meyer, B. (2011). Shifting ontologies of a serious game and its relationships with English education for beginners. E-Learning and Digital Media, 8(3).

Summing up: ECGBL 2010

October 22, 2010

Summations from this years ECGBL 2010… Good weekend to you all :-).


ECGBL keynote: Gaming, Schooling and Knowing

October 22, 2010

Today, my colleague, Thorkild Hanghøj, held his keynote “Gaming, Schooling and Knowing”. At the Game Based Teaching NING I have tried to do my best to report on some of the many interesting points that Thorkild raised.


The educational potential of computer games

October 19, 2010

As part of the “Follow ECGBL online intiative” I am going to report on (a few of) the interesting discussions that went on in the first part of today’s ECGBL related PhD Master class on “The educational potential of computer games”. The  PhD Master class was arranged by Simon Egenfeldt-Nielsen and Patrick Felicia. I invite the other participants to contribute to further elaborations and reflexions on what went on during this class. I would also like to invite everyone else to contribute with your thoughts on these matters.

Simon Egenfeldt-Nielsen presented three themes:

  1. Problems and challenges
  2. What is a good learning game?
  3. Example of Global Conflicts developed by the company Serious Games Interactive

1. Simon mentioned that Seymour Papert (1998) commented on the ‘perfect marriage proposal’ between great motivational tools (games) and learning challenges. However, the challenge remains that we still need better examples and case studies

Problems of edutainment:

–          Little intrinsic motivation: lot of extrinsic motivation through rewards

–          No integrated learning experience

–          Drill-and-practice learning principles rather than exploration

According to Simon, edutainment games still have their space, but there are a lot of other things you can do, and a fundamental critique has been: lack of coherence between play and what should be learned. Edutainment works for some forms of knowledge and some target groups e.g. in some areas of skill-training in math.

Simon referred among other to a 2006 report on Educational games . Historically speaking, already in the 1970s the first experiments with educational games were conducted, but especially since the turn of this century we may speak about the beginning of a Serious Games movement.

2. Simcity, Spore, Bully, Civilization 4 – are these learning games?

Where can we find the balance between a good game and a good learning game?

Simon suggested that any game is actually structured like a learning mechanism.

One of the participants commented that for some a computer game may be categorized “a toy”.

Simon listed some fundamentals of computer games and learning games (another word for these matters), and suggested that a fundamental challenge often is that when the focus on learning increases, motivation tends to decrease.

I noticed that Simon tended to look at games as platforms and he was speaking about what you do “in the game”. Even though Simon acknowledged that the context of course has a lot to do with what happens with games. Still, Simon argued that:

“A good learning game”: provides immersive, realistic & meaningful environments

3. Global Conflicts was presented by Simon as an example of a serious game where the developers (i.e. Simon) have been trying to incorporate the fundamentals of computer games and learning games listed by Simon. Furthermore, Simon stated that Global Conflics was developed partially inspired by Kolb’s learning cycle. Simon placed the strength of serious games between “Active Experimentation” and “Concrete Experience”. 

This presentation led to a long list of interesting questions. E.g.

– What about the differences between game and learning goals, and between game matters and subject matters?

– Is this about being immersed into a platform or about a learning experience which transcends the (serious) game?

Patrick Felicia took over from here, with his speech on “Improving GBL research: issues and challenges”. His concerns were among other with:

–  how to find a valid theoretical framework that explains learning and motivation in video games?

– how to combine both learning and motivation

Referring to Suzanne de Castell & Jennifor Jensen (2003): “Without play, education becomes a force of compliance, not intelligence”, Patrick introduced video games (more broadly) as providing manifold educational prospects e.g.: 

–          A starting point for debate

–          To allow players to appreciate a situation from different perspectives (e.g Bullying)

–          Experience dangerous situations in safe environment

In Patrick’s speech it became clear that video games can be viewed as bringing about many important options for learning: Active learning, exploratory learning, constructivist, by doing, meta-cognitive, positive and negative reinforcement, PBL, situated cognition. Also, Patrick mentioned Vygotsky‘s concept Zone of Proximate Development.

Overall Patrick presented Game Based Learning (GBL) as “a flexible and effective medium”…

Referring to examples of studies, Patrick stated that in spite of GBL apparently being a flexible and effective medium, we (as researchers) are still facing many challenges. To Patrick, the most pressing point is that in spite of investments: We still need to maximize its impact. He sees different urgent matters e.g.:

–          Need further empirical evidence

–          Consider GBL in relation to the environment in which they are employed

–          Design should account for a wide range of resources and flexible learning

–          consider differences between individuals

–          Design should include tutoring systems – ensure / track users’ learning

In order to get on with this, Patrick called for a multidisciplinary approach. One that includes:

–          Educational theories

–          Curricular approach

–          Instructional design

–          Educational psychology

Furthermore, Patrick saw a need to focus more on helping and training instructors and make obvious links with the curriculum and schools.

One of the participants, Stephan Stephensen (CEO Mingoville A/S) pointed out that this is also a matter of “return on investments”. Patrick had already argued for including the many different stakeholders (e.g. teachers, students, developers etc.) into research and development. I found that this particular point was very interesting and tied in with some of the central concerns I had when attending this morning.

To me the very concept of return on investments is very central. I found today’s speeches interesting, but I also lacked concrete references to educational situations and game-playing situations as well as mergers between these. Furthermore, today’s session once more reminded me how important it is that ‘we’ do not forget about PEOPLE in actual situations when ‘we’ do research within this field. There were no people in today’s slides.

The thing is, that when ‘we’ try to state the universals of these matters, we become in great danger of ignoring the specificities and heterogeneous constitutions of the (serious) games, educational situations, and stakeholders’ situations around the world.

Mingoville’s CEO pointed out to me, that he found it very useful to have these overviews and boxes of the qualities of serious/educational/learning games. This, of course, is true.

I guess that we have to find a balance between the nice-to-have universal guidelines to working with GBL (that Patrick and in a sense also Simon) is searching for, and the (to me) important focus on the concrete specificities of what it means to actually become engaged with serious games. 

What I liked the most about Patrick’s presentation was his end remark, that there are a lot of rumors but not much evidence that prevail about GBL. And actually the very concept of Game Based Learning remained somewhat a mystery throughout this part of the Master class.

I believe that this is a huge challenge for future researchers to engage with. But also, that this of course raises the central question of what is “evidence”?

It appeared a bit odd to me, that Simon’s approach was a sort of platform analysis and Patrick encouraged more experiments.

My response would be: we need more ethnographic studies of the moving phenomena of (serious) games, as well as the emerging mergers between these and the shifting educational situations around the world. 

Mingoville is currently looking into some of these matters by working on the development of what Stephan Stephensen calls: working on different learning platforms for their game based learning programmes (e.g. Mingoville and Mondiso): multi-mouse access, mobile access, interactive whiteboard access…

I furthermore want to add to this, that we need to take into account the shifting materialities of  (serious) games and educational situations. These are of fundamental importance to the actual serious realizations of games in the world.

Another employer from Mingoville A/S, Morten Iversen also commented that both the speeches were based on the premise that (serious)games/GBL were platforms to enter. However, as he commented, in Mingoville they are trying to develop experiences, and they do not necessarily involve being immersed into a game. 

This comment was very much in line with my own approach to this matter. I fully agree, that what is needed is to look more into the nuances of engagements, and to not look at serious games in themselves (while still overlooking the many game constructions), but how they be-come in concrete experienced situations. This leads me to another point. Both Simon and Patrick were referring to schools and curriculum. However, the market is much broader and manifold (they of course agreed on that). The market might not be schools, and there is no one/the curriculum to refer to.

Stephan also commented that in Mingoville A/S: we talk a lot about narratives…. I do not hear you talking about…

My reply to this interesting comment is, that while GBL research tends to talk about storytelling/narratives of the game, I would encourage looking more into the manifold storytelling that transcends the (serious)games and comes in many different forms.

Overall it was a very interesting morning.


Virtual Worlds – SERIOUSLY

October 7, 2010

As previously mentioned here, last week I did a presentation at the Virtual Worlds project’s workshop “Augmenting Reality in the Public Domain”.

It was an interesting day with good discussions on amon other the constructions of the “serious” in serious games and serious virtual worlds. I deliberately turned my title around to “Virtual Worlds – SERIOUSLY” because I wanted to indicate that there exist many ways to engage with virtual worlds seriously. I also wanted to insert that the boundaries between what makes a virtual world and a serious game are not very clear. They might in fact become partially contained in each other.

In my talk, the focus was on assemblages of relationships between education and virtual worlds. As previously mentioned here, CarrieLynn Reinhard and I went to Singapore in June where we met up with representatives from the InfoComm Development Association and people from two schools working with various initiatives to engage with and construct virtual worlds for both educational and gaming purposes.

CarrieLynn’s presentation at the workshop introduced how the government in Singapore is thinking strategically in terms of virtual worlds for tourism, and my presentation was more focused on what seems to mark the Singaporean mergers between education and virtual worlds (with the limited knowledge we have). I supplemented this with a focus on my research following how a particular virtual universe moves and becomes moved in and out of schools, homes and other contexts dealing with education ‘in the world’ (i.e. in Vietnam, Singapore, Finland, Portugal, Norway, Denmark, Chile, Nigeria, China).

(Too) Briefly put, I suggested (and this is very much to be considered work in progress) that we are dealing with many different constructions of what it means to work seriously with virtual worlds (e.g.):

  • Built/designed/structured around/for serious purposes with learning goals/purposes
  • Used for serious purposes for learning goals / purposes
  • The imaginary that learning transfer happens from the serious game/gaming/virtual world engagements to other situations.

Furthermore, I explicited three variations as examples of approaches to serious engagements in virtual worlds:

  • Virtual worlds used for / engaged in  local/regional/periodic educational situations (e.g. and the Singaporean virtual world constructed for education and youth olympic games engagements. See CarrieLynn’s and my slides for examples and elaborations).
  • Virtual world / learning environment developed locally (e.g. for a school) with more long-term serious aims (e.g. several examples can be found in Singapore’s Future Schools projects that merge serious games, virtual world elements and LMS/VLE elements).
  • Serious games /virtual worlds developed for serious purposes with a broader scope/market (e.g. the world as market) and more broad educational aim – ‘educational oxygens’ (e.g. and the Serious Games Interactive series). Those may include both shorter periodic activities and more long-term engagements.

These examples represent quite different ways to construct hybridities between serious games and virtual worlds, and how these can in various ways adress and become actors that augment different aspects of educational activities and thereby assist in solving/supporting various educational challenges in the world.

 I would love to get comments on my attempts to describe these matters.


Join the hot seats at our Game-Based Teaching NING

September 1, 2010

We are launching a series of hot seats, which will host different discussions related to Game-Based Teaching. So far, we have planned two hot seats, where we as NING coordinators have taken the liberty to host the two first series of discussions to be discussed by members of the network within two week intervals. The aim of the hot seats is to further dialogue between researchers, educators and game designers in relation to game-based teaching. The first two hot seats are described below. Please feel free to join the discussions!

Hot Seat #1: Gaming, schooling and knowledge forms (13-09-2010 to 27-09-2010)
This first hot seat features an online discussion of gaming, schooling and knowledge forms. In spite of a growing interest in using games in education, it still seems questionable whether games can be fully integrated within the context of formal schooling. A part of this challenge may be explained in terms of teachers’ level of ICT/game literacy and available technological resources. However, the problem is also related to the “clash” between gaming and schooling as different knowledge traditions with different criteria for validating knowledge. In summary, the two questions I wish to discuss are:

1. How can the knowledge forms of gaming and schooling be integrated?
2. How should games be taught in schools?


Hot Seat #2: How can we open up research on games as serious actors in education? (04-10-2010 to 17-10-2010)
As a sort of newcomer to the field of serious games research, I find that there is a lot of concern with how games can/should/won’t be integrated in schools. However, much like the e-learning research field (which I come from), there seems to be too many closed assumptions and too little methodological reflections/discussions going on that emphasize the central question of how can we research this matter.

This hot seat therefore features an online discussion of: How can we open up research on games as serious actors in education?


Later this year, other members of the network will be asked to host similar hot seats. Please write to, if you wish to conduct a hot seat!

Finally, we hope to meet some of you at the ECGBL 2010 conference (4th European Conference on Games-Based Learning), which will be held at The Danish School of Education, University of Aarhus, Copenhagen, Denmark, 21-22 October 2010.

Look forward to some great online and offline discussions!

Thorkild Hanghøj and Mikala Hansbøl

NING coordinators and educational game researchers
The Danish School of Education, Copenhagen