radioactive elements

What is a Game in Learning & Development?

A game is a learning activity in which game elements are used to accomplish specific learning objectives.

Other Common Names

Other common names for games include:

  •  Play

Some Playful statements from Brian's book What's Your Formula

Whats Your Formula book
Order your copy to learn more about games and all of the related elements.


powerpointMicrosoft PowerPoint

PowerPoint can be a useful element in several different ways. Games like Family Feud or Jeopardy can be created using the animation and trigger functions. For board-style games, using PowerPoint to remind people of the basic rules of gameplay can be quite helpful.

quiz softwareQuiz Software

Using online quiz game platforms like Kahoot can take the onus of game-making off you. Many of these tools track each player’s score and give you an opportunity to pause between each question to discuss the answer in more detail.

adult learningAdult Learning

Integrating sound principles of adult learning, especially the principle that adult learners want their professional development experiences to be relevant and help them solve immediate work-related problems. If your game idea doesn’t meet these criteria, you may want to rethink whether it is appropriate for your session.

follow upFollow-up

During multiday or multiweek sessions, games can be an engaging way to review and follow up material covered during previous sessions. During a multiweek session we created for a client, we welcomed participants back to the second week by having them play a Trivial Pursuit–inspired game, which our learners found to be much more engaging than simply running down a bulleted list of concepts we had covered during the first week.

rapid authoringRapid Authoring

Rapid authoring tools have become a staple of e-learning development. Breaking up screen after screen of content with some advanced development using animations and triggers can add fun and engagement to online learning. Depending on your objectives, there are many video games that can offer inspiration.

35 MicrolearningMicrolearning

Microlearning can come in many forms, but bringing games into short educational bursts is one way to combine learning with a fun experience.

learning objectivesLearning Objectives Taxonomy

This is perhaps the single most important element to bond with games to ensure you end up with a powerful learning experience that is completely safe for public consumption. Any game you choose to integrate into a learning experience should align with what your learners should be able to do as a result of the program. If you’re thinking of using games, here are several final helpful hints: Make sure your directions are clear. There is nothing more frustrating than sitting down to play a game and then getting confused by the directions before you’ve even made your first move. Poor directions can lead to confusion and frustration, turning what you hoped to be a fun learning experience into a disaster. Think of using the junior edition as inspiration. Junior Monopoly or Settlers of Catan Junior (or other “junior” versions) adhere to most of the same game mechanics but are simplified versions. Having simpler directions and fewer game variables can help make sure you don’t spend too much time trying to get your learners to understand your game. The quicker the learners understand the game, the quicker they can get to learning your key points through them. Keep testing, keep refining. As with any experiment, creating games that are effective, engaging, and accomplish your learning objectives will probably take (at least) several iterations. Be patient and have fun with it. Once you have a working prototype, ask a co-worker, friend, spouse, or child to help you test the directions, flow of the game, and any mechanics you think you need to tighten. Refine the game based upon your observations, test it again, and continue to refine until you think it’s ready for prime time.

Books To Help You Think Like a Game Designer


Download the Element Sanity Check

Even if you haven’t yet purchased the book (what are you waiting for?!) you can get access to worksheets that will help guide you through the use of the elements of amazing learning experiences.