Four Inventive Games That Show Us the Future of Learning

[We often view games as a bonus or add-on, but not the essence for learning. Here’s a Mindshift article that highlights four games that take game-based learning in new directions. I’ve been fortunate to work with Zulama, a Carnegie Mellon University spin-off that has pushed game-based learning into secondary education. Students need to have new models to expand what is possible using a game-based design.]


By Tanner Higgin, Graphite

I think of contemporary art as a kind of futurism. Artists tinker away in their studios like engineers, making challenging (often weird) things that reframe what’s possible. In the process, they pioneer new ideas and technologies that sometimes get realized on a mass scale years later. Look no further than Drake’s “Hotline Bling,” which borrowed heavily from James Turrell’s work, or Kit Galloway and Sherrie Rabinowitz’s “Hole in Space,” which staged a New York to Los Angeles Skype-like video chat in 1980. Art is nothing if not ahead of its time.

As contemporary artists, game designers can show us what’s to come. This is especially true of so-called indie designers who work alone or in small teams, often on projects that are riskier and more conceptual. These indie designers invent and prove concepts that more and more often get adapted on a larger scale and for a broader market.

We’re now seeing some of these artists experimenting in the learning space, and it’s time we started listening to what they have to say. Sure, these quirkier games and designers might sit outside of ed-tech circles. They also might not be tuned precisely to the needs of the classrooms today. But if we constrain ourselves by how classrooms look today, we’ll never truly redefine classrooms for tomorrow. In this spirit, here are a few examples of bold games that I think light the way for learning.

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