GIPI · Grupo Imágenes Palabras e Ideas

Videogames at the School: Digital leisure as a learning tool


During the 2008/2009 school year, an entire Secondary Education school decided to introduce commercial videogames in the classroom together with textbooks, photo cameras or traditional blackboards. The centre’s teachers and students, together with a team of specialists in education and technology from the University of Alcaláand the UNED, were the main characters.


We were looking to design innovative educational settings that would contribute to shaping a responsible and critical citizenship in light of the new communicative contexts generated by technology. In addition, we wanted to find out how commercial videogames may foster motivation towards learning and developing a creative way of thinking.

Project Development

The project Aprendiendo con los Videojuegos (Learning with video games) was implemented in a Public Primary Education School in the Community of Madrid, in particular the school Manuel de Falla in Coslada, during the 2008/2009 school year.  A total of 300 students aged between 11 and 16 participated together with their teachers.

Introducing video games into the institute

Before starting the collection of data, we underwent a previous preparation stage with teachers in which we shared the project’s goals and methodology, we provided basic information on the video games and the elaboration of multimedia products, and we advised on the programming of sessions.

Teachers, together with the research team and taking into account the learning goals, decided what video game would be used. Strategy, simulation, adventure, sports and music video games were present.


Some of the contents worked on with the aid of commercial video games were: evolution theories (Spore, in Biology and Philosophy class), narrative and problem resolution  (Harry and the Order of the Phoenix, in Language and Literature class), an Education in Values (The Sims 2 Castaway and SimCity Creator, in Philosophy and Education for Citizenship class), collaborative work (Rock Band, in Music class), or the acceptance of rules and standards (NBA Live, in P.E. class).

Work in the classroom

Video games were introduced into the classroom within the framework of workshops coordinated by the subject’s teacher with the support of the research team. 

Workshops included the following stages:
  • Dialoguing. Teacher and students talked about the problems to be solved during the game depending on the learning goals.
  • Playing with the video games in small groups. Students played together while getting to know the video game.
  • Reflecting in a big group. In a creative and critical way, and with help from adults, students became aware of what they had learned while playing with the video game.
  • Making audiovisual creations. Conclusions derived were shown through multimedia products published on Youtube.


Commercial video games and the curriculum

Certain commercial video game hide a secret curriculum from which to develop thinking processes, acquire new knowledge and generate attitudes of respect and collaboration.


New ways of alphabetization

Participating in an active and reflexive way in digital environments means not just coming into contact with them, but also getting to know the medium in depth and being able to use it in communicative contexts.

Combining multiple technologies

When the students solve problems in the classroom through a videogame, or discover the plot of their stories, they acquire abilities to interpret reality. If, in addition, by using different technologies they inform other people about how they played, what strategies they used or what problems they had to resolve, they acquire new skills related to literacy.


Agreement of collaboration between the University of Alcalá and the video game company Electronic Arts (EA), within its Corporate Social Responsibility Plan. Date: June 2009.


Also participating

  • Students and teachers from the Secondary Education Institute Manuel de Falla (Coslada).

More information

Related publications

  • Lacasa, P.; Méndez, L.; Martínez, R. (2008). Aprender a contar historias y a reflexionar con videojuegos comerciales. In Gross, B. ‘Videojuegos y Aprendizaje’. Barcelona: Grao.
  • Lacasa, P., Méndez, L., & Martinez, R. (2008) ‘Bringing commercial games into the classrooms’ Computers and Composition,25, pp. 331-358.
  • Lacasa, P.; Martínez-Borda, R.; Méndez, L. (2008) ‘Developing new literacies using commercial digital games as educational tools’. Linguistis & Education, 19 (2), pp. 85-106.
  • Lacasa, P.; Méndez, L.; Martínez, R. (2009). ‘Learning using videogames as educational tools: Building bridges between commercial and serious games’. In Marja Kankaanranta & Pekka Neittaanmäki (Eds) ‘Design and use of serious games’, (107-126). Milton Keynes, UK: Springer


Website Research Group Imágenes, Palabras e Ideas. Madrid. 2009.
Coordination: Pilar Lacasa. Editing and digital support: David Herrero Martínez. Web Master: Luis Briso de Montiano Aldecoa. Graphic Design: Rebeca Ochoa Bernabé

Website Research Group Imágenes, Palabras e Ideas. Madrid. 2009. All rights reserved | Credits - Last Update: 22/10/2011