How to create games for learning

Learning doesn’t have to be boring. It can be a fun journey filled with excitement and discovery, and that’s where educational games come into play (pun intended). Let’s look at how to create online games that encourage learning while being entertaining, engaging and enjoyable.


Why games are great for learning

You can read more about the benefits of HTML5 Games in Education here, but games are not just about fun; they’re about engaging our minds and developing skills. When we bring games into the world of education, magic happens.

Get Hooked

Games are like magnets for our attention. They make us curious, challenge us, and ignite our competitive spirit. This engagement makes learning a whole lot more exciting.

Hands-On Learning

Learning by doing is way better than snoozing through lessons or lectures. Educational games put the learner in the driver’s seat, where they can make decisions, solve problems, and dive into concepts headfirst.

Remember More

Games create memorable experiences that stick with you.

Creating an effective game requires a detailed plan from the start; covering gameplay, layout and design issues at an early stage will save much time in testing and development in later stages.


Create your own learning games.

Now, let’s turn our attention to creating educational HTML5 games. One of the keys to success is developing a detailed plan; covering gameplay, layout, and design issues at an early stage will save time in testing and development in later stages.

Functional specs

Setting out how your game will work will help develop the ideas and see where issues may arise quickly. This spec should cover any interface elements, game controls, content needed, and all aspects of gameplay mechanics.

Pick your game style

There are many game styles: board games, card games, and classic old arcade or home computer games. Choose what suits the learning outcomes, and consider how they will be built into the game mechanics. Create a game that’s not just educational but also fun to play.

Technical specs

It is a good idea to document how the game will be built to anticipate any challenges in the development process. This can include the technology that will be used, any dependencies (such as external libraries or frameworks), coding standards and management and which browsers and devices will be supported. It may also be helpful to create diagrams of how the different game components will be divided up and communicate with each other.

Visuals

Strong visuals are important to make the game appealing to the target audience and in supporting the intended learning outcomes. It is also a good opportunity to see how the game concepts will work practically. Consideration should also be given to how the game will be displayed at different screen sizes.

Give feedback

Games should offer instant feedback. Let learners know how they’re doing, whether it’s a high-five for a correct answer or a gentle nudge in the right direction for a mistake. Our series of games for learning created for Cambridge University Press & Assessment has been used to consolidate language learning, gain feedback on users’ understanding and provide rewards at the end of learning modules.

Multiple choice answers in Spin The Wheel - a HTML5 game for education


Flexibility and reusing core content

Games should be seen as an investment to your learning portfolio, so where possible, consider how to maximise their potential or explore ways to repurpose them.

Clue Hunter game for Cambridge University Press & Assessment

For the Cambridge project, the intention was to create a large amount of flexibility and reuse. We achieved this in many ways:

Theming
We created different sets of images, sounds, fonts and colours for each game and packaged them into a theme. This means the same game can be presented in very different ways (for example, an underwater theme, space theme or fantasy dragon theme) and targeted at different audiences.

Content
Because the text, image and sound content used in the games can all easily be changed, an endless variety of learning objectives could be supported. This project includes vocabulary, grammar, comprehension, reading and listening skills for different age groups and abilities.

To support both of these features, we created a content editor website that allowed users to quickly and easily combine different themes and content to create almost limitless new variations of games. Once completed, these game packages can be downloaded and added to the client’s website for players to access.


Other key considerations

Games can be complex to create, and there are a wide variety of issues to consider to ensure that they are robust and provide a positive gaming experience. It is crucial to have a plan in place for how to identify and rectify these issues.

Testing

Game functionality should be systematically tested across various browsers and devices. As well as physical phones and tablets, a service such as BrowserStack can help provide fast access to different platforms for testing. Provision should be made for the reporting, logging and fixing any problems.

Accessibility

To ensure inclusivity, game design and development should consider players who may have a variety of physical or cognitive impairments. The W3C, BBC and others have created guidelines and suggestions for addressing these issues and ensuring the widest audience can play games.


Alternative View Studios’ games

We have over 20 years of experience in creating games and interactive content. We have adapted to continuously changing technological requirements and built on our conceptual, architectural and design knowledge to deliver various fun and educational games.