Skip to main content


Log in

Learning about the game: designing science games for a generation of gamers

  • Forum
  • Published:
Cultural Studies of Science Education Aims and scope Submit manuscript


This paper is a response to “Challenges and Opportunities: Using a science-based video game in secondary school settings” by Rachel Muehrer, Jennifer Jenson, Jeremy Friedberg, and Nicole Husain. The article highlights two critical areas that I argue require more research in the studies of video games in education. The first area focuses on the need to better understand how children interact with non-educational games, outside of the school setting. This includes issues such as “gamer culture” and game play styles. The better we understand these issues, the better educational game designers and implementers can imagine the kinds of behaviors that might be elicited from students when we bring educational games into their classroom. In this focus, the student is the unit of analysis, but it is the student in and out of the classroom: the way the student understands video games when she is at home, playing with friends, and at school. The second area focuses on the study of the classroom as a unit of analysis. As the authors of this study reveal, classroom cultures affect the reception and success of an educational game. This is to ask, how does a game play when students have to play it in pairs or groups for a lack of resources? What is the role of the teacher in the success of video game implementation? How does a game react to multiple server requests in a short period of time? These are issues that are still largely unexplored in the educational game design literature.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this article

Price excludes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.

Instant access to the full article PDF.

Similar content being viewed by others


  • Chmiel, M. (2010). Game design toward scientific literacy. Cognitive Technology, 14(2), 32–42.

    Google Scholar 

  • Gee, J. P. (2007). What video games have to teach us about learning and literacy (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan.

    Google Scholar 

  • Koster, R. (2005). A theory of fun for game design. Scottsdale, AZ: Paraglyph Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Lenhart, A., Kahne, J., Middaugh, E., Macgill, C. E., Evans, C., & Vitak, J. (2008). Teens, video games and civics (Pew internet and American life project). Retrieved from:

  • Maxwell, J. A. (2011). A realist approach for qualitative research. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

    Google Scholar 

  • Squire, K., & Giovanetto, L. (2008). The higher education of gaming. E-Learning, 5, 2–28.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Steinkuehler, C. (2006). The mangle of play. Games and Culture, 1, 199–213. doi:10.1177/1555412006290440.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Steinkuehler, C., & Chmiel, M. (2006). Fostering scientific habits of mind in the context of online play. In Proceedings of the 7th international conference on Learning Sciences (pp. 723–729). Santa Monica, CA: International Society of the Learning Sciences.

  • Wilson, L. (2009). Best practices for using games and simulations in the classroom: Guidelines for K-12 Educators. Washington DC: Software & Information Industry Association. Retrieved from

  • Owens, T. (this issue). Teaching intelligent design or sparking interest in science? What players do with Will Wright’s Spore.

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Marjee Chmiel.

Additional information

Lead Editor: C. Milne.

Forum response to Muehrer, Jenson, Friedberg and Husain (2012). Challenges and opportunities: Using a science-based videogame in secondary school settings.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Chmiel, M. Learning about the game: designing science games for a generation of gamers. Cult Stud of Sci Educ 7, 807–812 (2012).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: