H. Boulton1, T. Hughes-Roberts1, D. Brown1, X. Beltran2, J. Tinney1, N. Shopland1, A. Burton1, D. Martinovs3, R. Barrett3

1Nottingham Trent University (UNITED KINGDOM)
2Inmark (SPAIN)
3Nottingham Video Arcade (UNITED KINGDOM)
Computer games as part of education is a well-established topic for research, suggesting that creating games is linked to a range of cognitive and behavioural outcomes. Creating games in all subject disciplines is becoming increasingly possible due to the increasingly higher status of computing in schools across Europe and the prevalence of visual programming languages such as Scratch and Pocket Code. The use of games within education is not new; in a systematic review of 129 papers Connelly et al. (2012) found that playing games impacts across a range of areas including engagement, cognitive ability and, most commonly, knowledge acquisition and content understanding. However, while research has thus far examined game play and game based learning in education there is limited work focussing on the process of game creation as a method of classroom teaching. This is a prospect which is increasingly possible with the introduction of visual programming languages such as Scratch (Resnick et al., 2009) and Pocket Code. It is suggested that playful learning through computer games could stimulate students’ intrinsic motivation (Garris, Ahlers, & Driskell, 2002) and that knowledge creation can emerge through the construction of artefacts in a playful learning environment via the co-creation of games (Kangas, 2009).

The research presented in this paper is from a feasibility pilot study examining the impact of game making in traditional primary and secondary school classrooms (5-18 years) in the United Kingdom (UK). The research, funded by Horizon 2020, is part of a wider European project. In the UK the project has introduced game making into disciplines such as Religious Education, Science and History. Data indicates that although not all students found this a positive experience, computational thinking skills have increased, and students, disaffected with their learning, have re-engaged with learning, increasing their persistence and resulting in a deeper understanding of subject knowledge. In addition initial results suggest that game making has the potential to increase engagement with classroom learning and lead to increased learner satisfaction within lessons. Non-computing teachers have gained in confidence in developing game creation in their subject discipline, increasing their awareness of computational thinking. Barriers identified include teacher familiarity with programming as a means to teach non-STEM subject knowledge, a potential to decrease knowledge acquisition during the process of familiarisation with the teaching tool and a need for software developers to consider design for children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND). The project is changing the learning environment and emerging pedagogy has been identified which will be shared in this paper. As a result of the feasibility study lesson resources have been created for teachers to use across disciplines which are now available via the project URL; these will be shared in this paper.