GIPI · Grupo Imágenes Palabras e Ideas

Musical video games: a different kind of game


Human beings have many different ways of expressing themselves, among which we find the musical language. During adolescence is when this language acquires a key role, helping teenagers to define their identity. Video games such as Rock Band, which we analyzed in this project, offer the possibility of bringing us closer to music in a simple and fun way, enabling us to achieve many of our dreams in a virtual world.


These are some of the questions we contemplated when working with musical video games:

  • What role may musical video games play when it comes to learning or teaching music?
  • Can we teach music to secondary education students in such a way that they find it a useful and motivating experience?
  • In what way does a video game such as this one transform the classroom?

Project Development

This project was implemented throughout the 2008/2009 school year in a Secondary School in Madrid with 15 year-old students during their Music class. The stages followed were the following:

We become a rock band. Participants formed music groups in which the player adopted different identities when choosing what instrument to play.

Let’s go to a concert. Students were not just rock starts, but also their classmate’s fans. The class became a concert venue in which everyone cheered.

We are journalists. Within the virtual world created in the music classroom, participants also adopted the role of journalist who, loaded with photo and video cameras, captured the most exciting moments.

We create videos for our fans. Using photos and videos, boys and girls, in groups, reflected upon the experience, reaching a consensus on the messages to be conveyed and creating, based on these messages, audiovisual products.



Learning through music

Rock Bandenables for the teaching and learning of music to become a living process. Using the video game, thoughts and emotions become part of the group’s reflections.

Transforming the classroom

The classroom became a non-formal learning environment: furniture was removed to create the “stage” and enable interaction among musicians and their audience. This, together with the merging of virtual and “real” instruments, transformed the teaching-learning setting.  The fact of living between two worlds, the real one (music classroom) and the virtual one, in which no risks are run, allowed teenagers to discover and experiment new sensations.

Relationship among participants

The presence of video games in the classroom, in which teenagers are usually more expert, contributes to transforming the relationship between the one who teaches and the one who learns, making them more symmetrical. With regards to the relationship among the students, these games foster collaboration through interaction with their peers and the corresponding exercise of the emotional, social and affective skills.

Re-interpreting the world

Working with commercial video games involves going further than the actual game, by deciphering its implied messages, reflecting upon them and conveying the experiences lived to other people. Thus, the making of audiovisual products by participants favoured the digital literacy process.


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