CALL FOR PAPERS: Digital Games and Learning

Call for papers for a special issue on:

Digital games and learning

Guest Editors

Donatella Persico (ITD-CNR), Marcello Passarelli (ITD-CNR), Francesca Maria Dagnino (ITD-CNR) and Carlo Perrotta (Leeds University) 

Extended deadline for submission is: April 1st,  May 3rd 2018

Digital games are powerful tools, and there is great interest in harnessing their power for educational purposes. The use of video games for education is therefore spreading in schools, higher education and professional training. Moreover, learning also takes place when people play entertainment video games in their spare time, without any explicit educational purpose. In other words, games foster learning in informal contexts too.

The kind of learning facilitated by digital games differs from case to case. Educational (‘serious’) games, for example, can be employed to foster the development of both disciplinary competence and  21st Century Skills such as communication, collaboration, problem solving, critical thinking, creativity, self-regulation or media literacy. At the same time, entertainment games can also be very effective for educational purposes. Besides supporting disciplinary learning and transversal skills development, some games, through their narratives, can be used to encourage reflection or discussion on complex topics, from philosophical questions to ethical issues.

Another area of growing interest is gamification of education, i.e. the application of game-design elements such as game mechanics outside of a gaming context. Where the use of fully-fledged video games is unfeasible, gamification may succeed in fostering engagement in learning tasks and improving learning effectiveness.

In informal learning contexts, games are believed to improve social skills and just-in-time learning, as well as to better some perceptual and cognitive skills, such as visual attention or multitasking.

However, the relationship between games and learning is not only a success story. An educator planning to employ games in class, for example, could find it difficult to identify the specific game or gamified system most useful to achieve desired learning objectives. Some of the feared effects of using video games (such as video game addiction or lack of sensibility to unethical behaviours) should be thoroughly explored for better informed and responsible approaches to game based learning. Last but not least, the research landscape on games and learning still has some blind spots and under-investigated areas deserving further exploration; one such is the relationship between game features and genres on the one hand and learning outcomes on the other. Also, the transferability of learning outcomes from the game world to the real world is still an open question, and the long term effects of game based learning even more so, due to the lack of long-term, ecological studies into the employment of games. The uses and non-uses of games in education also reflect a number of social and cultural factors which are opaque or not well-understood; in this respect, there is a need for critical research that considers the various points where economics, culture, technology and education intersect. 

The aim of this special issue of the Italian Journal of Educational Technology is to increase the body of knowledge and evidence concerning the learning potential of video games and gamification, as well as the problems associated with educational uses of games. 

We therefore invite researchers and practitioners to submit contributions on one or more of the topics outlined below. We particularly welcome papers that discuss the conceptual thinking underpinning examples of practical implementation. We welcome contributions concerning game based learning in both formal education (primary, secondary, higher) and informal contexts, and that consider games of any kind, as long as they have a digital component. Contributions should focus on the relationship between games and learning, investigating themes such as the ones mentioned below but not limited to them. 

Topics of Interest:

  • the use of games or gamification to improve learning;
  • learning benefits from leisure-time gaming;
  • purposeful use of video games or gamification for developing disciplinary competence or transversal skills;
  • the use of game mechanics or narratives to encourage reflection and discussion;
  • transferability of skills developed using games or gamification;
  • game-making for learning;
  • the relationship between game design and learning outcomes;
  • long-term studies on the effects of video games;
  • game genres and their potentialities;
  • drawbacks and hidden assumptions of employing video games and gamification for learning
  • the intersections between economics, culture, technology and education.

We welcome contributions in three forms:

  • theoretical articles (maximum 6,500 words)
  • research articles (maximum 6,500 words)
  • reviews of the literature (maximum 6,500 words)

Contributions should be submitted by April 1st May 3rd , 2018,(Extended)through the journal website. Upon submission, please mention this call for papers in the field “Comments for the editors”. Papers may be in English or Italian language, and should be formatted according to the author guidelines. All contributions are subject to a "double blind peer review" process. Publication is expected by spring 2019.

For further information about the issue, contact or