Sunday, October 14, 2012

How to use a Serious Game for Learning: focusing on the Garbage Game


   A serious game is a game designed for a primary purpose other than pure entertainment. The "serious" adjective is generally prepended to refer to products used by industries like defense, education, scientific exploration, health care, emergency management, city planning, engineering, religion, and politics. (source: Wikipedia)
Garbage game is a typical kind of serious game, focusing on environmental issues including recycle and reuse. The game contains large amount of information with various graphics. Focusing on playing the game, learners will have to make decisions based on the information provided with graphics. The game is inherently educational. However, what makes this game notable is its value for enhancing the learners’ reading skill: the game process requires active reading, which is why I chose the game. I have played the game only twice but I can clearly know how the game could help many learners in both their language learning and environmental education.

Active reading is an interactive process that helps readers to achieve better comprehension and recall of their reading materials. These are the features of active reading that you can use while you playing the garbage game.

1. Applying Prior Knowledge
2. Critical Response
3. Making Prediction
4. Problem-solving
5. Summarize  -- summarizing can be used as an assessment, too.

Language learning objectives could be
1. Familiarize the vocabulary related to the environment such as reuse, landfill, plastic bottle, unsorted garbage, recyclable, discard, residential waste.
2. Read and reflect on their waste habit to make green campaign.
3. Discuss and make UCC to change people’s waste habits using information given in the game.

How to Assess the Achievement - Using Contents as a Text
 The game contains vast amount of information regarding dispoal of garbage and the learners should make decision step by step. Even if a leaner did not get the answer, he or she can not miss the explanation about the correct answer while playing the game. So, it makes sense to test some of the knowledge they gained during the game.
The format of evaluation might be:
1) multiple choice questions or T/F questions
2) writing a paragraph on garbage issues
3) making summary of the most interesting facts from the game
4) evaluating group work - UCC or posters - for garbage campaign
5) debate based on the information from the game


  1. Sounds like a good game for English language learners.

  2. All those forms of assessment would work well.