Implementation of Game-Based Learning in a Tertiary General Education Course


  • Kai Ming Kiang The Chinese University of Hong Kong
  • David Koo



Game-Based Learning, Commercial-off-the-shelf, Civilization, Tertiary Education, Higher Education


Game-based learning can be an entertaining, engaging, and effective way of learning if both the game-play experience and educational content were carefully designed and balanced. By modifying an existing commercially available game rather than developing a game from scratch, the technical side and entertainment aspect of the game can be guaranteed so that educators can spend less effort in the technologies and game design but focus more on the educational and pedagogical aspect of designing and implementing game-based learning. We have enhanced a popular commercial computer game, Civilization, for use in a general education course that aims to nurture scientific literacy for tertiary students. The game has been used as a learning and assessment tool for this course along with other traditional course activities. The enhanced game includes scenarios which simulate world history and requires the players to lead a civilization and compete in these scenarios. Playing this ‘mod’ allows students to reflect upon, among many interesting issues, the dependency of scientific development on the political, economic, cultural, and geographical factors in history, which is one of the important intended learning outcomes in our course. The game has been used for 5 consecutive academic years. Survey responses and academic grades have been collected and analysed. The result is positive in both the rating on enjoyment and indicators of effectiveness of learning. Students who played the game are more engaged in course content, more willing to attend lectures and received a better course grade at the end as compared to those who didn’t. While we cannot simply conclude with a causal relationship based on our reported analysis, we believe that playing this game is useful and suitable in complementing our traditional pedagogy. The engagement in game playing will increase, not decrease, students’ effort spent on other traditional course activities.