Barriers and Hindrances to the Effective Use of Games in Education: Systematic Literature Review and Intervention Strategies




Game-Based Learning, Education, Games, Barriers, Systematic Literature Review


Games play a central role in human culture, as well as in interaction, interpersonal relationships, and overall development. Based on these premises, game-based learning (GBL) has been increasingly studied as a form of pedagogical innovation in formal and non-formal education. However, the implementation of these types of interventions in real educational settings has faced several barriers and constraints that reduce their possible impact. In this context, the present study aims to fulfil two aims: (a) mapping the main obstacles experienced in the implementation of GBL approaches in educational contexts; and (b) proposing an intervention diagram that matches each type of barrier with potential strategies to address it. Towards these aims, a Systematic Literature Review (SLR) was conducted, following the PRISMA methodology and guidelines. This included screening and eligibility processes based on inclusion criteria, which were defined considering the research's aims. Non-peer-reviewed research and studies aimed at other pedagogical approaches, such as gamification, were excluded to obtain a final sample of 11 studies and 1952 individuals, with an average of 195.20 participants per study (SD = 266.14). Through the analysis of the studies, a model of four types of barriers emerged: (1) attitudinal and behavioural barriers; (2) school policy barriers; (3) technological and material barriers; and (4) game literacy barriers. Through the critical evaluation of the barriers emerging from the analyzed empirical studies, we propose some potential methodological strategies that might support practitioners in overcoming them. This includes: (a) the implementation of a co-creation and participatory-driven methodology; (b) the appropriate selection of analogue, digital, or hybrid games; (c) the inclusion of the different educational stakeholders in the process; and (d) the promotion of GBL training within the projects.