I would like to develop a framework to support teachers and their students in developing mini-games for their class.

For example, a math teacher organizes several workshops and classes with his or her students to develop 2 or 3 mini-games. The objective is not to have playable games, although that would be nice. The objective is twofold:

  1. Promote design thinking and design skills, bot for the teacher and students;
  2. Use the game design workshop as an instrument to think deeply about the (in this example) mathematical content being taught.

Ad 1. The teacher learns to think about levels, providing challenge, using imagination and fantasy, personalization, feedback mechanisms, social interaction, engagement, etc in relation to his teaching.

Ad 2. To be clear about the second: students develop challenges that fit within their game, The teacher supports them in thinking about relevant challenges, but in order to make a 'playable challenge', they first have to really understand the content and outcome of the challenge. The hope is this leads to a deeper understanding of the topics.

Are there any examples on how to organize the workshops/class in a gameful manner as well? In other words, what other game-to-design-a-game games are there? And what are their features? I am working in a low-tech environment, so preferably the examples do not require too many technical resources or programming skills, but mostly focus on fun and creativity.

EDIT: Just found an interesting and widely cited paper by Druckman that compares game/simulation DESIGN vs game/simulation PLAY and concludes that (in this case) DESIGN has much stronger effects on retention and learning than PLAY. The approach is very rigorous and I believe his results can be generalized. However, to be critical, I would also predict that playing a game that is designed by a lay-designer would be less effective than doing the design yourself (as a layman). Search for "Druckman - Onstage or behind the scenes? Relative learning benefits of simulation role-play and design"

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    Well... If one wants to teach game design, he should be quite capable in the field himself. Crafting a "gamified" workshop plan should be among the competences of the teacher ;) My point being, there are some good courses/books on the subject, likt the Game Design Workshop by Tracy Fullerton, but I know of no "gamified" versions of these resources. Also, you didnt mention the age of the students. Are they college students? High school?
    – K.L.
    Nov 11, 2013 at 1:54
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    It looks like you hit submit before finishing your train of thought. Could you edit and add the rest of your post please? Nov 11, 2013 at 20:27
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    Why this overwhelming imperative by today's teachers to teach students to be terrible at something; to reward those students for this effort that merely embarrasses most of them; and for teachers to wade into complicated areas far from their areas of expertise? Some things in life are complicated, and best left to experts. The notion that one can teach a subject that one is not already competent in oneself is beyond absurd. Nov 15, 2013 at 5:23
  • Frankly, I will be astounded if any tangible result comes from such a class, beyond the bullying of any student who actually shows aptitude and is of below average interpersonal skills. Nov 15, 2013 at 5:26
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    I just had a baby born, so I am sorry for not being able to comment or refine my question, but I appreciate the feedback so far (especially K.L. and Jules - @Pieter, we can have a philosophical discussion about this and about pedagogy, didactic skills, motivation etc., but as you will understand I have little time for that. Also, I am not sure I understand your comments, so maybe I have to make the question a bit clearer as well). Nov 16, 2013 at 12:40

2 Answers 2


I think you could provide a set structure for the game mechanism while keeping the actual content of the game to be defined by teacher and students.

This allows less skilled people to join in while these boundaries (you may call them guiding principles) to provide guidance and inspiration.

Example: think of a customised happy families (kwartet in Dutch) as one of the easiest examples. The content could be the actual course material.

  • thanks @Jules, this is the kind of answer I was looking for. I think that such an approach does help teachers and their students go from scratch to a rudimentary game design. Nov 16, 2013 at 12:32

If you are interested in redesigning a classroom experience into a game format, I would recommend the author The Multiplayer Classroom by Lee Sheldon. In addition to discussing his own experiences as a college professor trying to teach game design by turning his course into a game – and incorporating game lingo such as mobs for quizzes, raids for presentations, game master for teacher , it contains several case studies of teachers redesigning their courses or classrooms as game experiences. Perhaps the most relevant example would be the case study of a seventh grade math class that was transformed into a multiplayer classroom.


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