HEFCE, an ongoing university initiative (DMLL)
Total value of project
Value to Coventry University
Duration of project
2015 - present
The GameChangers initiative, co-founded by Sylvester Arnab, focuses on the design and implementation of playful learning experiences, promoting the emergence of a more playful, exploratory, creative culture in everyday academic contexts. GameChangers is both an open game design course and community, co-created by the Disruptive Media Learning Lab of Coventry University together with staff and students interested in exploring the opportunities of creating games as a medium for both expression and learning.
The GameChangers initiative is also an award-winning practice-based research programme, which focuses on the design and implementation of playful and gameful learning experiences, promoting the emergence of a more exploratory, creative culture in everyday academic contexts, and exploring the opportunities of creating games and game-like solutions as a medium for both expression, learning and practice.
GameChangers has produced impactful research outcomes through novel investigations into transdisciplinary and holistic game design practices. The research has informed game-based pedagogical and development methodologies and recommendations that are empathically personalised to different stakeholders, which are being adapted and adopted by researchers, game developers and teachers internationally. The underpinning research has also led to various research projects funded by prestigious funders such as the UKRI and the EU Commission (value of over £9 million since 2015, and we have most recently in 2019-2020 been awarded over £1.5 million through the UKRI-ODA Global Challenges Research Fund to further expand the impact of our game-based learning approaches into South East Asia).
GameChangers has the goal of facilitating new models of teaching and learning and new practices in cross-disciplinary learning/collaboration through the use of game design and game thinking for creative problem solving. Most importantly, GameChangers aims to make game creation and game literacy more culturally open and accessible to learners and educators internationally, including those in marginalised communities.
GameChangers aligns with the targets set by the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal 4 (SDG4) as part of CU’s continuing responsibility to deliver inclusive and equitable quality education opportunities for all. The project has, and continues to impact all levels, including primary, secondary and tertiary education on an international scale.
GameChangers has been prolific in investigating, implementing and establishing models, frameworks and tools for breaking the barriers to innovative playful learning. Apart from educational bodies in South East Asia, our pedagogic methods and tools are also widely adopted by other organisations, such as Jack Arthur's Business School in Trinidad and Tobago, University of Cote D'Azure in Nice, Institute of Play in NYC, CU Flying Faculty in China. GameChangers has also informed the empathic GBL approach the Beaconing project that has produced a software for gamified learning authoring that has engaged with 6,000 teachers and students across 10 countries.
The global game-based learning market is expected to reach $17 billion by 2023, with the GameChangers initiative already making a big impact into this field. By advancing practice and research into game-based learning, GameChangers has uncovered new innovative frameworks and methodologies for improving the academic rigour of game development and created practical frameworks and tools that others can adopt.
Originally funded by HEFCE, GameChanger is an initiative that is now sustained at Coventry University as a key driver for our research into playful and game-based learning.
Through GameChangers’ innovative approach, stakeholders - regardless of knowledge and capabilities in game design - are empowered to co-create and leverage game-based learning resources. These innovations have been recognised through various international Gamification Awards:
- Research 2018 for pioneering work in an escape game methodology for education.
- Education and Learning 2019 for international research and practice impact.
- Software 2019 for the innovative game-based learning authoring tool (Beaconing). Informed by our research, funded through Horizon 2020.
Impact in research-informed teaching at CU
Our formal undergraduate module on game design thinking (ADD+vantage) has been recognised and supported by the Higher Education Funding Council for England. This module guides students in applying gameful approaches to design thinking based on GameChangers (5 cohorts so far). Existing research demonstrated that through the process, students discover the universal value of elements including empathy, meaning, social responsibility and collaboration, regardless of their respective disciplines. Non-disciplinary skills and competencies are important to encourage life-long learning, resilience and creativity in preparing for the realities of tomorrow's world. The approach has been adapted by colleagues in practice at Coventry University.
Impact on the rigour of game design and development methodology
The research insights have been adopted by other researchers and developers to produce game innovation, subsequently utilised widely and winning awards; such as Circuit Warz (http://www.circuitwarz.com) for teaching fundamentals of electronic and electrical engineering for A-level and first year undergraduate students. The game is available on various platforms with over 4,000 downloads worldwide – also translated into Portuguese and distributed to students as a teaching aid at the Universidad Federal de Santa Catarina (UFSC), Brazil in 2019. Our research has also informed development of a digital authoring tool for game-based learning as part of the Beaconing project (beaconing.eu); engaging and impacting over 6000 teachers and students in 10 countries, producing a spin off commercial ‘PlayVisit’ platform for creating location-based games launched by our industrial partner Geomotion in Spain.
Impact on access to game-based resources in education and methodology for co-creating resources for educators and students, including marginalised groups internationally
GameChangers has been adapted in Malaysia through the CreativeCulture project (2017-2019, funded by AHRC under the Newton Fund), engaging with marginalised schools in rural Borneo and educators across Malaysia; engaging over 600 teachers and students to date. Participating teachers have developed over 20 game-based learning resources; co-produced practical game templates and guidelines; and created playing cards for teaching game design. A physical Gamification Centre (the first in Malaysia) has been established in Malaysia to further expand knowledge transfer in playful and gameful learning pedagogic practice. The approach has also been embedded into the Masters Programme in Learning Sciences at Universiti Malaysia Sarawak, where students (who are mostly teachers) practice game-based learning design and implementation in real schools in Borneo. The initiative has also been actively covered in the Malaysian media that has led to further engagement with other institutions and educators in Malaysia.
Through its innovative approach to practice-based research, GameChangers continues to make an impact in the game-based learning field, driving innovative research-informed teaching and learning practices in primary, secondary, and higher education internationally. Our continuous impact includes recognition from UKRI:
- Newton Fund Impact Scheme to expand our pedagogy and methodology into teacher training in Malaysia (at least 400 teachers in 2021), in collaboration with the Department of Education, Sarawak, Malaysia.
- Global Challenges Research Fund to adopt our transdisciplinary methodology for facilitating transformative education through play towards addressing United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals in South East Asia (2020 – 2023), collaboration between DMLL, CPC, ICTE, GLEA.
GameChangers tools (selected few)
Game tools for empathic learning: https://gchangers.org/resources/workshop-what-is-your-story/
Escape Rooms for learning: https://dmll.org.uk/tool/escape-rooms/
Virtual Escape Rooms for learning: https://gchangers.org/project/virtual-escape-rooms-in-microsoft-teams/
Empathic game design: https://gchangers.org/resources/workshop-remixing-play-into-a-gameplan/
Pervasive game for language learning: https://gchangers.org/resources/imparapp/
GameChangers Open Course: https://gchangers.org/course/
GameChangers’ outcomes through the CreativeCulture project
Teacher created guidelines and design tools: https://creativeculture.my/ccstudio/
Teacher created GBL: http://playbox.mycapsule.my/
Gamechangers and Beaconing featured on the EU Education Gateway:
Investigations into teachers and practice
Journal and conference articles
International recognition through awards won by initiatives informed by the GameChangers research
Awards related to GameChangers
- Won: Gamification Award for Education and Learning (2019)-GameChangers
- Won: Gamification Award for Software (2019)-Beaconing
- Won: Outstanding Contribution to Gamification Research (2018)-escapED
- Nominated: Digital Innovation Award – CU LTAwards (2019)-Book Runner
- Nominated: Student Employability – CU LTAwards (2019)-Enhancing Employability
- Nominated: Digital Innovation Award – LILAC (2019)-Book Runner
- Won: E-learning Excellence Award: ECEL (2018)-Dungeons & Dragons
Learn more about the Remixplay 5 event through the conference-in-a-pod.