Games provide an avenue for students to have fun. When an activity has an element of fun, there is a higher chance that content and skills will be learned. Games, both online and offline provide students with opportunities to collaborate with peers, develop communication skills, practice skills and use knowledge in a meaningful way. Games also teach that failure can be a powerful and motivating tool.
Personally, I have used games in several scenarios, but one of the most memorable is when teaching economics to grade 7 students. After they had been presented with some basic economic principles and budgeting skills they were given a chance to test their understanding through a game called Carnival Tycoon, it is an online game where the player operates a carnival. It was a chance for students to practice what they had learned, fail, learn from their mistakes and then improve their abilities.
Game Based Learning will always play a critical role in education because of the multitude of skills and benefits that it offers. However, students cannot simply be presented with a game and expected to play it well and learn from it. It should be used with the right purpose in mind and proper instruction must be given. There is room for students to explore and test how the game is meant to be played, but some basic instructions should be given.
To take this to the next level students can be challenged to design their own games and then have other students play them. This also links computational and sequential thinking into the vast amount of skills that Game Based Learning provides.