Informal Game Play in the Classroom: Utilisation and Integration of the Metalanguage of Games


  • Kim Balnaves Curtin University, Perth, Australia



Third space, School, Middle Years Education, International Baccalaureate, metalanguage, Minecraft


This paper discusses a case study of a 28 children in a middle years (11-15 year old) classroom and the use of the "third space" between the classroom and the home as an area of play for consolidation of both the learning at school and the informal learning of the games played at home. The research aims to look at whether the third space could be a vehicle to enable participants who have identified themselves as competent in the gaming world to link those learning strategies to classroom learning and therefore transfer that success to the classroom. The research took place at an International Baccalaureate school in Perth, Western Australia and utilises the third space as a gaming server and Discord chatrooms. Data was collected from the servers, questionnaires, researcher observations, game walkthrough videos and through interviews with the participants. Being an International Baccalaureate school the children take part in a “cognitive curriculum” which is part of the metacognitive learning of the International Baccalaureate. The participants were applying these strategies to their reflections on their action within the server and these reflections then informed their further participation within the “informal” game. In this way it could be theorised that children who were skilled “shapeshifters” could be at an advantage both communicating within the collaborative group work and moving between the informal and formal spaces. The analysis of the data focuses on the ways in which the students unpacked, utilised and discussed the formal classroom learning whilst participating in the Java Minecraft server game space. The metalanguage of learning and building competence in digital games informally through play outside of the school appears to link well to the metalanguage of the International Baccalaureate curriculum. The paper investigates whether linking children’s understanding and use of the gaming metalanguage to the International Baccalaureate metalanguage enables children to traverse the metalanguage of the classroom more successfully. The analysis of the data is utilised threefold in this presentation to: Identify that there is a linkage between gaming language and International Baccalaureate curriculum elements make these links apparent and show how they would apply in the classroom.