From Angry Birds to Minecraft – What games teach us about learning – an #iste13 session

This post is part of a series of posts sharing some of my favourite learning and sessions at the recent ISTE13 conference in San Antonio.

Why I attended this session:- Games based learning is of high interest to me. I am running a 9/10 ICT elective on gaming and I can still see the faces of the boys when I walked into my first class with them – all smiling, excited, doing high 5s as they were allowed to follow their passion at school – and many of these are highly disengaged in normal classes!

This session by Douglas Kiang (@dkiang) of Hawaii was fascinating. See Douglas’ shared google document iPad Field Trip and see his presentation on slideshare From Angry Birds to Minecraft Here are some of my notes from it:-

Why games?  Douglas stated that we are born knowing to play! Students should be given choices so it does not seem like work but rather like a game. In minecraft there is no end. Even when you are finished you are thinking of new goals.

The top 5 addictive games

  1. Minecraft – sandbox game and the most open ended
  2. Angry birds – ok to fail and keep on failing
  3. Plants vs zombies
  4. Civilization 5 – so many different ways to solve, great rich learning
  5. League of Legends

Douglas defined the roles of games players as being:-

  • explorers – love to figure out games etc
  • achievers – how many points and love levelling up
  • socializers – in it to make friends, meet others etc how many followers
  • killers – the smallest percentage – destroy stuff. Griefers’ achievements come from another person’s loss

Failure is part of a game. How can we do that in the classroom? Allow students to fail, fail small, often and still have fun. Games can be flexible and dynamic – often with multiple ways to get through. In class, try and supply multiple paths.   Choice is powerful, provide lots of resources, show them where they are,  encourage and reward the explorers, tell them where they are.


  • provide badges
  • Give great titles to topics eg grand historian
  • use stackoverflow – provides network of support
  • take virtual field trips

Further notes

2 responses to “From Angry Birds to Minecraft – What games teach us about learning – an #iste13 session

  1. Pingback: DigiToolkit: Why we love Candy Crush, Angry Birds & Minecraft Lessons about Gaming & Education | Gaming and Education

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