Using commercial computer games in the classroom – BECTA report

BECTA (n.d), Computer games in education project: report Retrieved May 30th, 2007 from BECTA website :

Becta is an agency of the British Government with responsibility for providing advice on the use of information and communications technology (ICT) in education. This report offers an overview of the potential uses of computer games to support teaching and learning in schools.

The games chosen (and their purposes) were:

  • The Sims (building a simple model, describe how rules govern models)
  • SimCity 3000 (building a simple model, describe how rules govern models)
  • Championship Manager 2000/01 (databases and data manipulation)
  • Age of Empires (thinking and essential skills)
  • City Trader (trading of stocks and shares in business, modelling economic activity)

As a small pilot study, no particularly definitive data has come from this report however it is worth examining for the insights developed by the teachers and the learners in the process of introducing games into the classroom. These include:

  • Simulation based games can be very useful for stimulating class discussions by providing authentic contexts
  • Teachers need to frame the activity to ensure that learning objectives can be met.
  • Teachers should be familiar with a game – both in terms of content and control before using it in class.
  • The immediate feedback offered in games acts as a strong motivator for learners
  • Games can offer activities with greater relevance to learner interests – such as football in the case of Championship Manager
  • Games can act as “platforms for social interaction”(p.5) and stimulate collaboration
  • The option for licensing games to use on a school network was considered important, given the limitations of running games on a single computer.
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