Game-Based Learning Vs. Game-Informed Learning

In today’s digitized world, educators and instructional designers are constantly exploring new avenues to engage learners. Two intriguing frameworks have risen to prominence: Game-Based Learning and Game-Informed Learning. Although the terms may sound similar, they diverge significantly in application, objectives, and outcomes. Understanding these differences is crucial for educators, curriculum developers, and ed-tech professionals aiming to integrate gamification into the learning environment.

What is Game-Based Learning?

Game-Based Learning (GBL) involves the direct use of video games or game-like elements in a learning context. Here, learners engage with actual games designed to achieve specific educational goals. The core principle of GBL is the seamless fusion of subject matter with game mechanics.

Features of Game-Based Learning

  • Interactive Gameplay: Real-time decision-making and problem-solving are essential.
  • Objective-Centric: Lessons are structured around completing in-game tasks or quests.
  • Feedback Loop: Instantaneous feedback through scores, rewards, or progression.
  • Engagement: High levels of immersion encourage extended focus and commitment.

Pros and Cons of Game-Based Learning


  • Greater Engagement
  • Real-world Application of Knowledge
  • Enhanced Problem-solving Skills


  • Requires High Development Cost
  • Potential for Off-Topic Distraction
  • Limited to Specific Subject Matters

What is Game-Informed Learning?

Game-Informed Learning, on the other hand, does not require the use of actual video games. It involves adapting game-like elements such as scoring, competition, and challenges into traditional learning scenarios.

Features of Game-Informed Learning

  • Point-Based Rewards: Learners earn points for completing assignments or participating in class.
  • Leveling Up: Achieving a set number of points can result in ‘leveling up,’ analogous to progressing in a game.
  • Challenges and Quizzes: Incorporate time-bound tasks that emulate game scenarios.
  • Collaborative Learning: Teams can be formed to accomplish collective goals, similar to multiplayer games.

Pros and Cons of Game-Informed Learning


  • Easily Integrated into Existing Curricula
  • Lower Development Costs
  • Flexible Across a Range of Subjects


  • Potential for Superficial Engagement
  • May not Suit All Learning Styles
  • Can Lead to Unhealthy Competition

Comparative Analysis: Game-Based Learning Vs. Game-Informed Learning

When it comes to choosing between Game-Based Learning and Game-Informed Learning, the decision hinges on several factors like budget, learning objectives, and the subject at hand.

Budgetary Constraints

GBL often requires a higher financial investment for game development, whereas Game-Informed Learning is generally more budget-friendly.

Learning Objectives

For complex topics requiring active problem-solving, GBL may be more effective. However, for broader subject matter, Game-Informed Learning provides more flexibility.

Engagement Vs. Ease of Integration

While GBL offers a higher level of engagement through immersive experiences, Game-Informed Learning is easier to integrate into existing educational frameworks.

Conclusion: Making an Informed Choice

Both Game-Based Learning and Game-Informed Learning offer valuable avenues for enhancing education through gamification. The key is to assess the specific needs of your learning environment and choose the approach that aligns best with your educational objectives.