Reading List

This page features our recommended books and papers on the subject of game-based language teaching and learning. 

Sykes and Reinhardt – Language at Play

From the back of the book: The potential of digital games in second and foreign (L2) classrooms is enormous. With their growing worldwide popularity and diversity, digital games provide new spaces and means for L2 learning that only a few years ago would have been unimaginable. Sykes and Reinhardt offer instructors a useful, research-based framework for understanding the intersection between digital games and research in L2 teaching and learning. The authors invite readers to imagine possible futures of digital game-informed, game-enhanced, and game-based language learning.

This book is probably the best place to start if you are interested in the field of GBLL. Sykes and Reinhardt give a great overview of the different types of games, the affordances of games for language development and some concrete examples of how games could be used in various contexts. — James

Reinders – Digital Games in Language Learning and Teaching

A number of studies on the use of digital games in language learning and teaching. Of particular importance is the chapter by Filsecker and Bündgens-Kosten on how games have been used from different pedagogic theories — Behaviourism, Constructivism and Situated Learning (as communities of practice) — James

Squire – Video Games and Learning

Although not directly related to language learning, this book is a fantastic intro to the wider educational applications of video games. Wonderfully easy to read, funny, and insightful. Highly recommended. — James

A Pedagogy of Multiliteracies: Learning by Design

The concept of ‘Multiliteracies’ has gained increasing influence since it was coined by the New London Group in 1994. This collection edited by two of the original members of the group brings together a representative range of authors, each of whom has been involved in the application of the pedagogy of Multiliteracies.

The original New London Group article was a hard read for me. This book helped to translate the language of that article into more understandable terms and arguments. The first chapter is especially good – a thorough, thought-provoking introduction. The rest of the chapters are also good examples of how people have applied the pedagogy in their own contexts. — Jonathan

Media Education: Literacy, Learning and Contemporary Culture

This book examines recent changes in media education and in young people’s lives, and provides an accessible set of principles on which the media curriculum should be based, with a clear rationale for pedagogic practice.

David Buckingham is one of the leading international experts in the field – he has more than twenty years’ experience in media education as a teacher and researcher.

This book takes account of recent changes both in the media and in young people’s lives, and provides an accessible and cogent set of principles on which the media curriculum should be based.

Introduces the aims and methods of media education or ‘media literacy’.

Includes descriptions of teaching strategies and summaries of relevant research on classroom practice.

Covers issues relating to contemporary social, political and technological developments.

This book was what prompted my “Game Camp” project – trying to combine games, language, literacy, connected learning, 21st C education skills.. The concepts are easy to approach but resonate deeply with teachers in many different fields, I think. There are many similarities between Buckingham’s media education and the multiliteracies pedagogy. The book’s chapters on classroom practice are phenomenal. Just amazing ideas about what can be done with and around media. Very CLIL-like, in some ways. — Jonathan

Rules of Play: Game Design Fundamentals

An impassioned look at games and game design that offers the most ambitious framework for understanding them to date.

As pop culture, games are as important as film or television―but game design has yet to develop a theoretical framework or critical vocabulary. In Rules of Play Katie Salen and Eric Zimmerman present a much-needed primer for this emerging field. They offer a unified model for looking at all kinds of games, from board games and sports to computer and video games. As active participants in game culture, the authors have written Rules of Play as a catalyst for innovation, filled with new concepts, strategies, and methodologies for creating and understanding games. Building an aesthetics of interactive systems, Salen and Zimmerman define core concepts like “play,” “design,” and “interactivity.” They look at games through a series of eighteen “game design schemas,” or conceptual frameworks, including games as systems of emergence and information, as contexts for social play, as a storytelling medium, and as sites of cultural resistance.

Written for game scholars, game developers, and interactive designers, Rules of Play is a textbook, reference book, and theoretical guide. It is the first comprehensive attempt to establish a solid theoretical framework for the emerging discipline of game design.

An impressive overview of the study of games. It works as a “coffee table pick up and browse” book, and as a text for deep study. Whatever your interest in games/gaming, you will find something interesting in this. — Jonathan

Beyond Edutainment: Exploring the Educational Potential of Computer Games

Computer games have attracted much attention over the years, mostly attention of the less flattering kind. This has been true for computer games focused on entertainment, but also for what for years seemed a sure winner, edutainment. These years the area has gained new momentum and labels – game-based learning, serious games and educational games are just some of them. This dissertation aims to be a contribution to understanding educational use of computer games by building a framework that goes beyond edutainment. The framework laid out extends from an experiential learning approach, where concrete experiences are the starting point that can be transformed through reflection, instruction and active experimentation. It is concluded that computer games provide rich concrete experience that can be manipulated in the game universe providing more handles for the student compared to other media formats.

A critical look at the learning theory behind the history of educational games. You won’t look at games the same way after reading this. An excellent overview of experiential learning theory. Great examples of games by themselves not working, needing game- and subject-literate teachers and discussions. — Jonathan