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EJC/REC, Vol 16 (1 & 2)
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The Electronic Journal of Communication / La Revue Electronique de Communication

Volume 16 Numbers 1& 2, 2006


John Sherry and Angela Pacheco
Michigan State University

Abstract. Recently, many researchers have begun advocating the use of computer games for education. However, little attention has been paid to differences in the embedded educational mechanisms found in various game genres. Using Bloom's hierarchy of learning outcomes, we argue that educational games can be most effective when a genre's intellectual puzzle matches the desired learning outcome. If the main motivation for video game play is to solve puzzles, and each video game genre features a different type of puzzle to solve, educators must consider genre conventions when using or designing games. We match genre puzzle types to Bloom's typology of learning outcomes, providing a heuristic for educational game users and designers.

Within the past decade, an increasing number of researchers around the world have been investigating the efficacy of using computer games for education. Researchers at Northwestern, UCLA, Georgetown, and Texas share the NSF-funded Children’s Digital Media Center; Michigan State has the Communication Technology Lab, which has been developing educational multimedia for 20 years, as well as the new Games for Entertainment and Learning Lab; and MIT features the Education Arcade program. There is every reason to believe that this relatively new and highly popular mass medium will make a powerful platform for education (Gee, 2004; Prensky, 2000). In addition to commanding tremendous amounts of player attention and time, games can be tailored to individual ability levels, can facilitate individual study through repetition or discovery, and can simulate just about any phenomenon a teacher might want students to understan d. In fact, computer games can be used to do many things in a classroom that are not otherwise possible (e.g., simulate a billion years of geophysical development).

Unfortunately, this vision for educational gaming has yet to be realized. In fact, recent news reports tell a very different story. Revenues for home educational games have dropped from a high of $498 million in 2000 to $148 million in 2004 while revenues for classroom games has seen a similar decline (Richtel, 2005). Frequently, gamers complain that educational games simply aren’t as fun as commercial games. Many games to date do little more than emulate books or flashcards. However, the potential for educational gaming is significantly better than examples to date would lead us to believe. Gee (2006) argues that commercial games have complex learning tasks built in; designers need to learn how to leverage these embedded learning tasks and match them to desired educational outcomes. This paper provides a heuristic to guide thinking on educational game use and design. By linking genre specific learning tasks to Bloo m's hierarchy of learning, we provide a path by which educational game designers can leverage the internal educational strengths of commercial games and, in the process, make educational games fun.

Computer Games as Educational Platform

Computer games come in a broad array of genres. Table 1 outlines various game genres, provides a description of each, and then lists examples of games for a particular genre. There are first-person shooters, in which the player navigates a 3D world while shooting at enemies from a first-person perspective. Fighters feature a third person perspective of two or more combatants in a fight to the death. Action-adventure games and role-playing games allow the player to go on a quest, learning to overcome enemies and progress from one world to the next. Sports games simulate sporting events (e.g., football, baseball, soccer, etc.) while other simulation games model everything from urban development (SimCity) to geophysics (SimEarth) to relational interaction (The Sims). Strategy games, such as the highly popular Age of Empires and Command and Conquer, require players to think through massive strategic scenario s such as commanding an army in a war. A broad array of games, subsumed under the puzzle genre, include real-time manipulation of puzzle pieces (e.g., Tetris), simulation of traditional card or dice games, early arcade video games (e.g., Asteroids, Missile Command, PacMan), and quiz or trivia games that feature a question and answer format.

The gaming experience is best understood as engagement in a set of complex cognitive puzzles. In uses and gratifications studies, the most popular reason for playing games among players of elementary school age through young adults is the challenge of beating the game and advancing to the next level (Sherry et al., 2006). In order to conquer each level, the player must learn the basic rules of the game universe and apply those rules to puzzles presented. As such, games provide an opportunity for inductive and deductive reasoning in real time. A well designed game engages players in a flow experience by gradually increasing cognitive challenges as the skill level of the player increases (Sherry, 2004). The game is a great example of the process of equifinality because there is typically one answer, but an almost limitless number of ways of getting that answer. As such, computer games are tailored to a wide variety of backgrounds and learning styles.

The flow state is indicative of another advantage of games for education; games are highly addictive. The flow state offers an intrinsic intellectual reward, referred to by flow theorist Mahayi Csikszentmihalyi (1988) as an autotelic experience. As such, players are engaged in a mental task for hours; probing options, learning rules, and making sense of the underlying logic of the environment. Due to the dynamics of flow that emerge in a well designed game, the experience tends to hold the attention of the player for as long as it takes to master the material (Sherry, 2004). The game industry targets each new game as 50 hours of entertainment, the equivalent of 10 weeks of high school classroom instruction. Unlike the traditional high school classroom, every game experience is customized to the individual’s prior knowledge and learning rate.

Finally, like cartoons and books, games are not limited by what is plausible in the real world. Games can simulate any existing world, worlds that do not exist, or worlds that are unperceivable to the naked eye. As in Asimov’s book The Fantastic Voyage (1966), a journey through the body is not only possible, but the interactive nature of the medium allows the player to investigate and make sense of the diegesis of the body in a variety of ways. Complex dynamic phenomena that are difficult to explain in the linear confines of lecture or printed word come alive as the player explores the game world. Students can encounter worlds through both time and space that they normally would not be able to interactively access.

Bloom's Hierarchy of Cognition

In 1956, Benjamin Bloom published the fruits of a decade-long quest to formalize language for discussing educational outcomes. In the time since, Bloom's hierarchical taxonomy has provided the basis for thinking about and discussing goals for educational planning and assessment. Despite the influence of Bloom's work on educational design, no one has systematically linked his taxonomy to game playing to date. The taxonomy has six levels of educational objectives ranging from the simple to the most complex, with each building on the previous objective: knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation (see Table 2). Educational messages can be devised to meet criteria of each objective, or an educational program can be evaluated to determine the extent to which it contains any of the objectives from the taxonomy. The latter is what we do in this paper.

The first level of the taxonomy is knowledge. Bloom (1956) defines the knowledge objective as “remembering of the idea of phenomenon in a form very close to that in which it was originally encountered.” (p.29). This is frequently referred to as rote memory of factual information. Knowledge lays the necessary basis for higher levels of cognition and may include knowledge of specifics, such as terminology, facts (e.g., dates, events, persons, places), conventions, trends, classification categories, criteria, or methodology. Further, knowledge can be of universals and abstractions such as principles, generalizations, theories, and structures.

The second level of the taxonomy, comprehension, concerns understanding of knowledge from the first level. Comprehension is indicated in any of three ways: translation, interpretation, and extrapolation. Translation is the faithful and accurate rendering of information in a different form of communication. Commonly, this is known as “saying it in one’s own words”. Interpretation involves explaining or summarizing the knowledge, for example by reorganizing the salient features. Extrapolation extends the knowledge to discuss implications or consequences of the trend of thought.

The third level of the hierarchy, application, refers to the extent to which an individual can use the abstract knowledge in a concrete situation. Can the individual use general ideas, rules of procedure, or general methods from one situation and apply it in another? For example, can the individual identify metaphors in a poem? Can she use the Pythagorean Theorem to calculate the hypotenuse of any right triangle?

The analysis objective refers to cognitive tasks that require the individual to break the problem into its component parts in order to clarify the hierarchy of relationships among those parts. The process of analysis clarifies the logic of the communication by explicating the underlying organization of the ideas. Elements for analysis include such things as assumptions, facts, and hypotheses. Further, analysis makes explicit the connections and interactions between those elements, as well as the structure that holds them together, including explicit as well as implicit structure. Using the example of poetry again, a student engaging in analysis would be able to identify the structure and rhyme scheme of the poem and how that works to realize the emotional effect.

Synthesis is the second highest level on the taxonomy. Here, Bloom was concerned with the ability to take knowledge or ideas from a variety of sources and to reassemble them to create a new whole. Synthesis may take the form of a unique idea, a new plan or set of operations, or the derivation of a set of abstractions such that a new way to classify the phenomena emerges. Something new is generated, based on information that had been learned at lower levels of the hierarchy.

The sixth and highest level in Bloom's taxonomy is evaluation. Evaluation addresses one’s ability to judge the quality of arguments or ideas based on a standard criteria. Accuracy, economy, or effectiveness of the arguments may be judged qualitatively or quantitatively. Essentially, evaluation introduces values or criteria for judgment in addition to all the prior steps (knowledge, comprehension, etc.). Unlike opinions, the evaluative judgments are well thought out and based on knowledge and analysis of that knowledge.

Game Genres and Bloom's Hierarchy

Bloom's educational objectives are realized to a variety of extents in different broad genres of video games. We take each objective in turn, describing the genre and indicating which levels of Bloom's hierarchy are best related to each genre (see Table 3).


Probably the most notorious game genre is the first person shooter. These games are often among the most technologically and graphically sophisticated, with the introduction of new versions of games anxiously anticipated by the most hard-core gamers. Included in this genre are such famous titles as Doom, Quake, Halo, and the Medal of Honor series. Shooters are typified by a first person perspective in which the player navigates a large and complex 3D world. The goal of these games is ‘kill or be killed’ as players engage multiple enemies lurking behind every corner. Players have access to a staggering array of weaponry, from fists and knives to assault rifles, bombs, artillery, rockets, and weapons from science fiction (e.g., laser guns, lightning shooters, etc.) which the player finds hidden throughout the 3D world. Graphics are highly sophisticated; the world of the game ranges from carefully rendered versions of WW2 Nazi Germany to alien spaceships to science fiction versions of Hell. Additionally, these games are often networked allowing multiple players to interact in the same 3D environment. In brief, the player inhabits and interacts in the world of a science fiction or historical novel.

Stripped of its controversial violent content, shooters are games that encourage exploration of complex 3D environments, finding objects, and interacting with a variety of characters, including other players. Educators could easily imagine a different shooter world in which the players interact with science content such as a human body, searching for pathogens, and removing them. Any 3D world is available for investigation; a variety of interactions with the environment are possible. Learners can view content from a first person perspective, move in any direction they choose, and see the results of their interactions. The world is dynamic and constantly changing, which is consistent with many theoretical scientific systems.

Because of the dynamic, online nature of shooter games, this genre opens the possibility to teach at several of Bloom's levels. Upon beginning the game, the player must learn the components of the game (knowledge) and the function and limits of these components (comprehension). Educators could take advantage of this genre by embedding content and function in design of the interactive world. Further, this understanding of components must be applied in order to play the game. That is, knowledge of the game components is constantly used by the player to advance through the game. Knowledge, comprehension, and application can be ramped up during the game by scaffolding more sophisticated understanding of the components as the game proceeds.

It is at the higher levels of Bloom's hierarchy that shooter games really shine. Successful play of these games requires extensive logical probing of the environment by the player; wandering through the environment to learn where things are, testing different options to accomplish goals (e.g., opening doors, beating enemies, transporting); assessing the limits of the interactive mechanisms (e.g., weapons, vehicles); and tracking the environmental map and available supplies. Essentially, the player must develop a theory of the rules and dynamics of the diegetic space based on extensive inductive reasoning, and then test the theory deductively. In order to play the game competently, the player must be able to identify significant components in the causal chain in the game (analysis), find the logic linking those components (synthesis), and judge a variety of alternate strategies to find which one is most appropriate for that game (evaluation). In fact, the process of exploring the environment and constructing and testing a theory of that environment is highly consistent with the process employed by scientists who generate theory. This genre allows players to engage scientific content and in the process develop a theory consistent with scientific theory on their own.

Puzzle/Arcade/Card and Dice

A large number of video games have been based on casino and traditional games. These games fall into such computer game genres as puzzle, arcade, and card/dice. Puzzle and arcade games have the easiest objectives, making them more common for play among those who do not normally play video games. This category includes games such as PacMan, Tetris, Snood, and Pinball. Other games mimic traditional card games such as the multiple versions of solitaire or poker that have been around ever since people have played computer games. Games from these genres are typically in two dimensional formats with few backgrounds (sometimes the games have several levels on different screens, but the main format of the game rarely changes). These genres challenge players with puzzles based on repetitive manipulation of words, numbers, or shapes to complete tasks. The objective of these games is to beat opponents’ scores, obtain a personal best score, or to beat the ga me itself (which is often impossible). It is not unusual that a player becomes addicted to a puzzle, arcade, or card game.

Puzzle, arcade, or card games provide an excellent platform for educational material that requires memorization. In the same manner that teachers use flashcards or puzzle games to teach children math or reading, using games with repetitive tasks will enforce learning. The advantage is that each game is customized to student abilities and speed. In addition, current games can be modified for specific educational outcomes. For example, the objects used in PacMan could be exchanged for numbers to complete math problems. Some games have the shapes and colors already in the game; if the goal of the puzzle game is changed to focus on the learning of colors and shapes it could be used in the classroom. Players learn through mastery of levels, with increasing levels containing more complex information.

The three genres, puzzle, arcade, and card/dice demonstrate four levels of Bloom's Taxonomy. In order to begin play, a person must know the general rules of the game. Identification of the objects used in the game is also required, such as the shapes, words, or colors. If this knowledge is not previously known, then it will be learned while playing the game. Understanding (comprehension) of the concepts is also needed to predict what will happen, based on a move the player makes. In addition, associating like colors, or suits of cards is often needed in card and puzzle games. Knowledge and comprehension are the basis of all of these genres. The concepts become more difficult in higher levels, and require that knowledge and comprehension broaden throughout play of the game.

To beat the game, players must apply what they have learned about the concept to solve more difficult problems (application). As a game speeds up at higher levels, it is to the player’s advantage to devise shortcuts for answering questions. Due to the trial and error nature of many of these games, experimenting is often necessary to complete a level. For example, the organization of the objects in a game is often a main problem. Solitaire requires players to rearrange cards in particular orders to win, requiring Analysis level thinking in Bloom's taxonomy. Being able to separate different objects and classify or connect them is a skill required in most puzzle, card, or arcade games. These games require that a player master the repetitive manipulation of objects and identification of all components to pass levels and complete the game.

Fantasy/Role Playing and Adventure

Fantasy/Role Playing and Adventure games are the most complex interactive video games on the market. These two genres are made for dedicated gamers and often involve hundreds of hours of game play. The intricacy of these games requires dedication to learning how to play. Games included in the two genres are Final Fantasy, Tomb Raider, Lost in Time, and The Legend of Zelda. The goal of these games is to complete levels until you can master and complete the whole game. A player must gain knowledge, power, and skills to move on and overcome enemies or puzzles. Players also can collect different tools throughout the game to help with future levels, including spells, weapons, and clues. These games are presented as a fantasy world requiring imagination of the player. They can take place anywhere on earth, in space, or in a world developed just for the game (fantasy). All of these worlds are large virtual spaces enhanced by 3D imagery and intense graphics. Th e player takes on the role of the character in the game, while visual effects create an effect of being inside the game. Further, these games can be played with more than one person, such as through a network, increasing the sense that real people are interacting inside the game. Fantasy and Adventure games enable a player to travel and interact in worlds or places they can only visit through video technology.

Fantasy and adventure games can be modified to portray real situations on earth, teaching history, social dynamics (e.g., economics), and geography through immersive virtual interaction. The three dimensional worlds that have been developed could represent any real place and any given time. A player’s decisions control what the future will be, and each move made affects every other aspect of the game. Players can also portray more than one person, in some games one player can represent up to six different characters. Learning the makeup and skills of six different characters makes game play even more complex. With this aspect of the game, a player could be learning about a group of people in an environment rather than just one specific character.

The dynamism, high complexity, and multiple stages involved with fantasy and adventure games reach every level of Bloom's hierarchy over and over again throughout the many levels of play. Like most video games, the player must know the rules of play as well as the ultimate goal (knowledge). In addition, to play these types of games you must constantly learn new information and be able to recall what you have learned during the game. Many fantasy and adventure games have video sequences throughout the game that explain who the new characters are and also what is happening in the story. A player must be able to translate what they learn in the video sequences to how they play the game (comprehension). To pass on to new levels, players have to defeat enemies and solve puzzles. Application of the skills of the particular characters and use of the tools collected along the way is the only way a player can advance. It is expected in fantasy and adventure games that the player pay close attention to detail and any new information. These basic skills are needed in all parts of the game, but as the player advances they will need to be able to use higher cognitive skills.

To achieve the ultimate goal of an adventure or fantasy game, beating all levels and puzzles, the player must demonstrate complex problem solving skills. The first necessary skill is the ability to identify and connect related components of the game that will help the player advance (analysis). It is also necessary that the player be able to explain what is happening in the game, demonstrating understanding. The trial and error nature of game play is reminiscent of the inductive and deductive logic involved in scientific theory building. In order to be successful, players must create and test theories of play and design a plan to overcome the next enemy or puzzle based on that theory (synthesis). Evaluation, the highest skill in Bloom's hierarchy, is necessary for adventure and fantasy games. Because the worlds in the games are created to react differently depending on the paths chosen throughout the game, a player must have the ability t o make choices based on reasoned argument. Players constantly test what is right or wrong, works or does not work, or leads to success or failure. Selecting the correct path to take your character on is done after careful consideration of all events that have occurred in the game. Collecting evidence of past successes to base future decisions on is a difficult process. These types of games allow players to control their own destiny.

Fantasy and adventure games give players the power to control the outcome of each game. They must learn an entire story or characters and events, then take part in that world to make the end of the story come together. This advanced technology has the opportunity to lead to endless simulations of people and the environment throughout the past, present, and future.


Quiz and Trivia games require the least amount of cognitive skill. These games are based on factual knowledge that is most often presented in question and answer formats. The most common type of quiz and trivia games are based on television game shows such as Jeopardy and Who Wants to be a Millionaire. The games consist of one basic background, such as a studio, and the option of a few different characters to portray the player. The main engagement in these games is beating opponents and obtaining high scores. If the game is networked, competition with other players (sometimes for money) often serves as a goal of the game.

This type of game can be used to test knowledge, whether or not competition is involved. Any kind of information can be put into a question and answer format to test memory of or mastery of a subject. These games require only one level of Bloom's taxonomy, knowledge, because the games focus on recall of information. They do not require that a person be able to understand or use the information. However, the focus on knowledge testing makes this genre of games useful and appropriate for educational outcomes requiring memorization of information.

Sports and Simulations

Typically, sports genre games and simulations are not considered the same genre. However, for the purposes of this paper sports games can be considered highly interactive simulations. Simulations do exactly what their name implies; given a set of rules and input variables, the games simulate possible outcomes. Often, these outcomes are judged by the game. For example, SimCity players make a number of decisions about where to place items in a city such as housing, power plants, railways, streets, police, and other essential components of a city. Using urban planning theory, the game models outcomes that would be expected for such an arrangement of items. For example, if the railways are located too far from the core city, goods cannot get to businesses and the businesses fail.

Similarly, sports genre games simulate outcomes of sporting events such as football, basketball, baseball, soccer, and even rugby or tennis. The most sophisticated games, such as those found in the highly popular Madden football series, allow players tremendous freedom to customize the parameters of the game. Players are able to choose from a menu to form teams from the present and the past, to set up their own teams by drafting players, or to custom design teams and players (including team name, stadium, location, and dominant weather conditions). Further, sports games allow players to try different game strategies. For example, Madden allows players to create their own playbook. Game play follows the rules of the actual sport, although modifications to rules (e.g., which rules are used and how strongly the rules are enforced) and player abilities (e.g., allow for players to become tired or injured through the game) are possible. Players control the ath letes on the playing field as the game simulates the conditions of the sporting event.

Both simulations and sports games are potential exploration laboratories for understanding dynamic systems such as the human body, economics, particle physics, evolution, geophysics, and a plethora of other topics. Instead of reading about complex interactions, such as cellular membrane transport, the student can experiment with a wide variety of variables until the proper balance is found. Things that don’t occur in the real world can be simulated. For example, it would be difficult for a science teacher to demonstrate the results of rockets launching under a variety of levels of thrust, trajectory, or load. This is easily accomplished with simulation games.

Education Implications

The power of video games for education remains largely untapped. Recently, our college hosted a 15-year video game industry veteran who summarized the problem by saying that kids know educational games are not fun and stay away from them like the plague. A survey of educational games will bear this out: educational games are generally too simplistic to hold the attention of experienced gamers. However, this doesn’t need to be the case. It is common in the gaming industry to build successful games on the ‘engine’ of popular games. The game engine is the sophisticated software that controls and keeps track of game play. Designers are free to modify the graphics, maps, and interaction layered on the engine to create new games. For example, the engine that drives the third-person shooter Quake also drives such highly popular games as Castle Wolfenstein, Soldier of Fortune, and Counterstrike. There is no reason these engines cannot be modified to carry educational content, taking advantage of the highly sophisticated game play of Quake. In fact, the maker of the Quake engine has made it available for free. Similar engines are available for other genres such as fantasy (e.g., Ambrosia Software’s Coldstone) or side scrolling adventures (e.g., Sawblade Software’s Power Game Factory).

Michigan State’s Games for Entertainment and Learning (GEL) lab is in the early stages of developing a biology game, based on the Quake engine, that can teach difficult concepts such as membrane transport, photosynthesis (particularly the Calvin Cycle), and ATP synthesis. By using the 3D Quake engine, we will design a game in which learners can enter cells to figure out how these dynamic systems work. In order to satisfy the objective of the game, players will need to intuit the rules of the dynamic system and be able to apply those rules to keep cells alive.

As with any carefully planned educational process, successful use of video games requires specification of the outcomes desired both in terms of content and in level of understanding (Bloom's hierarchy). The first step is to specify these goals as clearly and completely as possible. An excellent resource for seeing what such clear specification looks like can be found in the description of the pre-planning for Sesame Street by the Children’s Television Workshop (Lesser, 1974; see also Fisch, 2004). Table 2 can be used as a heuristic for identifying the best genre for the educational game, given the content and the goals of the producers. Producers should become familiar with genre game play before planning the game; it is often helpful to discuss games with children. They are eager to share their gaming experiences, particularly when they sense they can teach you something. It should be remembered that certain genres are popular with different age groups and genders (Sherry et al., 2006). Consideration of these trends is crucial in designing effective games based on popular genres.

Understanding preferred genres goes well beyond simple content (e.g., girls don’t like violent shooter games because of the violent content). Studies in our lab have shown that innate cognitive skills (e.g., 3D rotation ability, verbal fluency) are stronger predictors of game success than gender. As such, we are conducting experiments to understand the limits of cognitive skills in predicting gaming success. What types of 3D interfaces are too difficult for low 3D ability individuals to navigate? What can be done to mitigate the difficulty encountered by these individuals? Early research suggests that simply widening the pathways in 3D space will eliminate most of the disorientation associated with 3D game play. We don’t want to create a game that alienates a large number of students because they lack the cognitive ability to navigate the interface.


Video games have a great deal of potential to hold children’s attention while teaching them everything from simple facts to the dynamics of complex systems. Currently, the power of this technology is underutilized because educational media designers lack the sophistication and resources to develop games that are as fun as entertainment offerings. However, this need not be the case. By modifying game engines, educational media designers can leverage the power of sophisticated and popular games for education.

Educational goals must be clearly stated and matched to game genres in order to maximize effectiveness. Some game genres, such as first-person shooters, simulations, and role playing games, can be very effective at modeling complex systems that are difficult to explain in the linear confines of textbooks and lectures. Other game genres, such as quiz/trivia games, are powerful tools for testing knowledge and encouraging rote memory of facts. By thinking through the educational goals for the software and matching those to game genres that feature require use of those goal processes, educational software can be both fun and highly effective.


Asimov, I. (1966). The fantastic voyage. New York: Bantam.

Bloom, B. S. (1956). Taxonomy of educational objectives: The classification of educational goals by a committee of college and university examiners. New York: Longmans.

Csikszentmihalyi, M. (1988). The flow experience and its significance for human psychology. In M. Csikszentmihalyi & I. S. Csikszentmihalyi (Eds.), Optimal experience: Psychological studies of flow in consciousness (pp. 15-35). New York: Cambridge University Press.

Fisch, S. M. (2004). Children's learning from educational television : Sesame Street and beyond. Mahwah, N.J.: Erlbaum.

Gee, J. P. (2004). What video games have to teach us about learning and literacy. New York: Palgrave Macmillan

Gee, J. P. (2006). Learning by design: Good video games as learning machines. In P. Messaris and L. Humphrey (Eds.). Digital media: Transformations in human communication (pp. 173- 186). New York: Lang

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Richtel, M. (2005, August 22). Once a booming market, educational software for the PC takes a nose dive. New York Times, p. C1.

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Sherry, J. L., Lucas, K., Greenberg, B. S., & Lachlan, K. (2006). Video game uses and gratifications as predictors of use and game preference. In P. Vorderer & J. Bryant (Eds.) Playing computer games: Motives, responses, and consequences (pp. 253-268). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.


Table 1: Video Game Genres & Descriptions





Games that use strategic planning skills

Command & Conquer, Civilization, Age of Empire


Games that can be solved, no element of chance

Tetris, FreeCell

Fantasy/Role Playing

Games that let you assume a character role

Final Fantasy, The Legend of Zelda, Diablo


Games where you go on an adventure

Resident Evil, Tomb Raider


Games based on athletic teams and events

Tony Hawk's Pro Skater, NBA Jam


Games where you create a simulation

Rollercoaster Tycoon, SimCity


Games that focus on going fast

Super Mario Kart, Grand Turismo, Need for Speed


Games where you shoot other characters

Quake, Duke Nukem


Games that focus on martial arts or hand-to-hand combat

Mortal Combat, Tekkan


Games based on original arcade games

PacMan, Frogger, Pinball


Games that have an element of chance

Solitaire, Vegas Fever 2000


Games that test your knowledge

Jeopardy, Who Wants to be a Millionaire

Classic Board Games

Video game versions of old-time favorites

Monopoly, Checkers

Table 2: Bloom's hierarchy of cognition


Rote memorization of factual informationsuch as terminology, facts (e.g., dates, events, persons, places), conventions, trends, classification categories, criteria, etc. Does not require understanding the meaning of the factual information memorized.


Understanding the meaning of factual information such that translation, interpretation, and extrapolation are possible.


The extent to which an individual can use abstract knowledge (e.g., facts) in a concrete situation.


Individual can divide a problem into its component parts in order to clarify the hierarchy of relationships among those parts.


The ability to take knowledge or ideas from a variety of sources and to reassembl them to create a new whole.


The ability to judge the quality of arguments or ideas based on standard criteria such as accuracy, economy, or effectiveness.

Table 3: Game genres based on Bloom's educational objectives









































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