Working group: game development for computer science education

Monica McGill, Chris Johnson, James Atlas, Durell Bouchard, Laurence D. Merkle, Chris Messom, Ian Pollock, Michael James Scott

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference PaperOtherpeer-review


    Educators have long used digital games as platforms for teaching. Games tend to have several qualities that aren't typically found in homework: they often situate problems within a compelling alternate reality that unfolds through intriguing narrative, they often draw more upon a player's intrinsic motivations than extrinsic ones, they can facilitate deliberate low intensity practice, and they often emphasize a spirit of play instead of work. At ITiCSE 2016, this working group convened to survey the landscape of existing digital games that have been used to teach and learn computer science concepts. Our group discovered that these games lacked explicitly defined learning goals and even less evaluation of whether or not the games achieved these goals. As part of this process, we identified and played over 120 games that have been released or described in literature as means for learning computer science concepts. In our report, we classified how these games support the learning objectives outlined in the ACM/IEEE Computer Science Curricula 2013. While we found more games than we expected, few games explicitly stated their learning goals and even fewer were evaluated for their capacity to meet these goals. Most of the games we surveyed fell into two categories: short-lived proof-of-concept projects built by academics or closed-source games built by professional developers. Gathering adequate learning data is challenging in either situation. Our original intent for the second year of our working group was to prepare a comprehensive framework for collecting and analyzing learning data from computer science learning games. Upon further discussion, however, we decided that a better next step is to validate the design and development guidelines that we put forth in our final report for ITiCSE 2016. We extend this working group to a second year---with a mission to collaboratively develop a game with clearly defined learning objectives and define a methodology for evaluating its capacity to meet its goals.

    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationITiCSE'17 - Proceedings of the 2017 ACM Conference on Innovation and Technology in Computer Science Education
    EditorsIrene Polycarpou, Guido Rößling
    Place of PublicationNew York NY USA
    PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery (ACM)
    Number of pages1
    ISBN (Print)9781450347044
    Publication statusPublished - 28 Jun 2017
    EventAnnual Conference on Innovation and Technology in Computer Science Education 2017 - Bologna, Italy
    Duration: 3 Jul 20175 Jul 2017
    Conference number: 22nd (Proceedings)


    ConferenceAnnual Conference on Innovation and Technology in Computer Science Education 2017
    Abbreviated titleITiCSE 2017
    Internet address

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