GAME Model: Activities

1 January 2012 13,293 views 2 Comments



Define learning activities (things you would do in the classroom with students) that support the learning goals. Map these to game activities that can be used to create gameplay that will support the learning goals.

Gameplay is the core of the player’s experience when interacting with an educational game (Kiili, 2005a) and is what keeps players motivated and engaged throughout the game (Costkyan, 2002). Educational games have often failed because quality gameplay took a back seat to educational aspects of the game (Kiili, 2005a). However, good gameplay design and good instructional design actually work hand-in-hand. Learning is increased when challenges are matched to a player’s skill level (Kiili, 2005b); fortunately, adaptive gameplay levels are a feature of good game design, not an external requirement of edu-gaming (Prensky, 2001).

The key is to connect the learning objectives with the game objectives; this is done through mapping of relevant learning activities with potential game activities, by embedding the relevant activities within a game format (Whitton, 2009).

Example of activity mapping:

Content Statement (Optional) Learning Objectives Learning Activities Game Activities
Describe the curriculum or technology standards addressed by this activity (or type of activity) What will players be able to do as a result of practicing this activity (or type of activity)? What activity could a learner do in real life that would show mastery of content (or type of activity)? How would you translate the activity from the previous column to a game activity that fits in with the game world and the story (or type of activity)?

Once you have an idea of appropriate game activities, you should be able to start brainstorming possibilities for an intrinsic game fantasy to support the described learning. Remember that not all learning is suitable for GBL; this step might help clarify whether a particular learning need lends itself to a game design or not (Whitton, 2009).

Next step: Choosing Mechanics


Costkyan, G. (2002). I have no words & I must design: Toward a critical vocabulary for games. Proceedings of the computer games and digital cultures conference, Finland.

Kiili, K. (2005a). Digital game-based learning: Towards an experiential gaming model. The Internet and Higher Education, 8, 13–24.

Kiili, K. (2005b). On Educational Game Design: Building Blocks of Flow Experience. Doctoral dissertation, . Retrieved December 25, 2011, from

Prensky, M. (2001). Digital Game-Based Learning.McGraw-Hill.

Whitton, N. (2009). Learning with Digital Games: A Practical Guide to Engaging Students in Higher Education(1st ed.). Routledge.

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  • David Gibson said:

    I like the mapping aspect you outline. in addition to this, or riding alongside it, is the experience of being “in a game” – which has some other features. Temporary suspension of disbelief, submission to rules and boundaries, the magic of being in an alternate reality, freedom and delight in discovery and experimentation, and more and I associate these with “game play” as well – possibly as conditions for the kind of learning that games promote.

  • Lisi (author) said:

    Yes – the “flow” experience is crucial when discussing engagement, however in this draft I didn’t go into it since there has been so much written about it. In general, I would say that rules and boundaries, and the ability to suspend disbelief, are valuable features in a learning environment.

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