There are two main approaches to incorporating game play into your course:

⦿ Games Based Learning (‘Serious Games’) are complete games with ‘serious’ intentions. Teachers can utilise pre-existing games or design a game from scratch. These could be card or board games, simulations, point and click games, escape rooms, role playing games or even augmented reality games.

⦿ Gameful design/gamification introduces game play elements to existing learning platforms or content in order to intrinsically motivate and engage the learner.

More information about gamification

*Well designed* games can:

⦿ Increase student engagement
⦿ Provide instant feedback
⦿ Intrinsically motivate
⦿ Stimulate decision making and problem solving
⦿ Prompt behavioural change
⦿ Contribute to skill development
⦿ Capture complex theoretical concepts and social phenomena
⦿ Encourage application of knowledge
⦿ Help students to learn by doing
⦿ Provide experiential learning

⦿ Agree your learning objectives and the exact time allocated for the game at the start.

⦿ Be realistic about the length of time you have to play in class, especially if there are post game activities.

⦿ Design a game with your objectives and restrictions in mind rather than try to adapt a game to fit.

⦿ Work towards the worst case scenario time-wise and give yourself room to stretch. 

⦿ Play-test as much as you can especially with your target audience to ensure that you are on the right track.

⦿ Give yourself an early deadline to stop designing your game.  Aim to finish designing the game with sufficient time to create and order game pieces and supporting materials.


Funding for gamed-based learning and gamification project

LTI encourages staff to explore the use of games, playful learning and gamification in teaching and learning practice at LSE. Visit our funding pages to find out how we can support your project ideas.

Simulations in IR100

Gustav Meibauer & Andreas Aagard Nohr, International Relations

Deliberately low tech simulations played in class time. The simulations used PowerPoint slides (in-built features such as hyperlinks, interactive pathways and audio/video integration) to create a ‘choose your own adventure’ style navigation to experience real-world foreign policy or diplomacy decisions. Students were able to learn the complexity of decision making in multiple settings and that there is no correct path or right decision, as well as realise their own mistakes along the way. As it was played as a class it generated much discussion. Each simulation was followed by a further class discussion linking the game and decisions to theoretical concepts/reading list etc. Andreas and Gustav who designed and ran the sessions have written a manual for the simulation (available soon) 

‘Game of research’ board game

Kay Inckle, Sociology

Blog post

‘Capture the Market’

LSE 100

“Capture the Market” is a deconstructed board game (players create their own board by placing hexagonal tiles) played in class for the first time in Lent Term 2017. The game aims to highlight the complexities of how government intervention impacts markets for better or worse and some of the key concepts along the way. Designed by Jose Olivas-Osuna and LTI. 

‘The Long Day of the Young Peng’

Andrea Pia for AN447.

Based on ethnographic research carried out in the outskirt of Beijing between 2007 and 2009, and drawing on extensive readings of the social scientific literature on migration and development, Peng is a bespoke point-and-click video game that follows the day of a fictional character from his native village to Beijing. Based on a multiple-choice mechanics, the game is conceived as an immersive teaching tool that allows students to explore key themes in the study of contemporary China through the eyes of one of its main protagonist, a young migrant worker. LTI funded

‘Copyright the Card game’

Dr Jane Secker (LTI) and Chris Morrison  

Instead of focusing on aspects of the law and thinking about what copyright might stop people from doing, this game encourages participants to focus on positive aspects to copyright. All resources are free to reuse under a Creative Commons Non-Commercial licence.

Game-based learning at UK universities

Molecules in Minecraft – University of Hull.
Available at: [Accessed 26 July 2018].

Reynolds, C. (2016). The Bourdieu game. [Blog] Research blog of the Huddersfield Centre for Research in Education and Society.
Available at: [Accessed 20 Feb. 2017].


Csikszentmihalyi, M. (1990). Flow : the psychology of optimal experience. New York: Harper & Row.

Dweck, C.S.(2000). Self-theories: Their role in motivation, personality, and development. Psychology Press.

Moseley, A. & Whitton, N. (eds.) (2013). New Traditional Games for Learning: A Case Book. Routledge: New York.

Whitton, N. & Moseley, A. (eds.) (2012). Using Games to Enhance Learning and Teaching: A Beginner’s Guide, Routledge: New York.

Journals and online publications

Egenfeldt-Nielsen, S. (2005). Beyond Edutainment: Exploring the Educational Potential of Computer Games. IT-University Copenhagen.

Egenfeldt-Nielsen, S. (2011). What Makes a Good Learning Game? Going beyond edutainment. eLearn Magazine. [online]
Available at: [Accessed 20 Feb. 2017].

Gameful Design. (2012). [Blog] Superbetter Blog.
Available at: [Accessed 20 Feb. 2017].

Howard-Jones, P., Jay, T., Mason, A. and Jones, H. (2016). Gamification of Learning Deactivates the Default Mode Network. Frontiers in Psychology, [online] 6.
Available at: [Accessed 20 Feb. 2017].

Moseley, A. (2012). An Alternate Reality for Education?: Lessons to be Learned from Online Immersive Games. International Journal of Game-Based Learning (IJGBL), 2(3), pp.32-50.

Secker, J. (2016). Do games improve learning? Jane tells us more…. [Blog] LSE LTI Blog.
Available at: [Accessed 20 Feb. 2017].

TED talks

Csikszentmihalyi, M. (2004). Flow, the secret to happiness. [online]
Available at: [Accessed 21 Feb. 2017].

McGonigal, J. (2010). Gaming can make a better world. [online]
Available at: [Accessed 21 Feb. 2017].


Many games researchers cite Nakamura and Csikszentmihalyi’s flow theory when explaining the power of game play. Flow (also called ‘optimal experience’ or being ‘in the zone’) describes “…the state in which people are so involved in an activity that nothing else seems to matter; the experience itself is so enjoyable that people will do it even at great cost, for the sheer sake of doing it.”

Escape room resources

Breakout EDU. (n.d.). [online] Breakout EDU.
Available at: [Accessed 21 Feb. 2017].

Design your own Educational Escape Room | Disruptive Media Learning Lab. (n.d.). [online]
Available at: [Accessed 21 Feb. 2017].

Duolingo – free app using gamification elements to learn French, German, Portuguese, Italian, Irish, Dutch, Swedish and English.