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The Business of Digital Game-Based Learning

December 2005
Author:   Eilif Trondsen
Contributors:   Rob Edmonds, Purnima Hindia

Role-playing games and other types of learning games have long had a role in traditional training. The Thiagi Group is just one example of an organization that has long had success with game-based learning, mostly in classroom format. But just as technology is increasingly finding use in most forms of learning and training, game-based learning is changing as existing and emerging technologies play a greater role. As a result, organizations' interest in digital game-based learning (DGBL) is growing. This interest derives partly from the dramatic growth and use of video games, not just by children but also by millions of adults; most people younger than age 34 today have played video games. Video games and their current and potential use and impact are also gaining attention in a range of constituencies. Rapid technological progress enables increasingly interactive and immersive gaming experiences and raises visions of interesting ways to use some of these tools and technologies for learning and training.

Considerable literature already focuses on the design of game-based learning, so this report focuses on the business of DGBL. As more organizations consider using DGBL, they will need to address a variety of business issues, particularly as they prepare their business plans and make a case for the use of DGBL.

This report examines the following issues:

The DGBL continuum. Although a growing share of "next-generation DGBL" is likely to resemble video games, many other types of DGBL exist and can be useful for certain types of learning and learners. Not all DGBL requires huge budgets.

Embedded game-based elements in simulations. Simulation-based learning is also seeing growing use and acceptance, and it does not face the common bias against mixing "fun and games" and learning. But designers can, and often do, build game elements into simulations.

The new DGBL ecosystem. Several categories of vendors offer DGBL. A growing number of research organizations are also advancing the art and science of DGBL; this report describes some of the leading organizations in this part of the emerging DGBL industry.

Download the report here.  The Business of Digital Game-Based Learning