Chapter 9 : Developing New Digital Games for Learning

In this chapter I explore the potential for developing new games for learning in higher education, first looking at the benefits and drawbacks of creating games from scratch and considering the range of skills required in order to create your own games. I then go on to look at how to develop a functional specification for your game and talk about techniques for creating a balanced game for learning. Finally, I introduce a number of tools and technologies that you can use to create your own games.


Bateman, C. (Ed.) (2007). Game Writing: Narrative Skills for Videogames. Boston, MA: Charles River Media: recommended if you are interested in ways to develop narrative within digital games.

Krawczyk, M. & Novak, J. 2006. Game Development Essentials: Game Story and Character Development. Clifton Park, NY: Delmar Learning: also recommended - of particular interest are chapter 3 on ‘Building your story’ and chapter 7 on ‘Verbal character development’.

Salen, K. & Zimmerman, E. (2004). Rules of Play: Game Design Fundamentals. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press: chapter 24, ‘The play of pleasure’, examines how games can be designed to bring pleasure. This is well worth reading to gain insights into the perspective of design for entertainment as well as gaining a deeper understanding of engagement.


This document (funcspec.doc) provides a framework for developing a functional game specification.


Creating a functional specification for your own game: Using the framework provided, and building on the learning objective mapping and concept specification developed in Chapter 5, develop a functional specification.

Ensuring your game is balanced: Review your functional specification with respect to guidelines for creating a balanced and playable game.

Screen Shots

The Internal Force Master (image reproduced with permission of Andreas Holzinger)

The Library Induction Game (image reproduced with permission of Elias Pimenidis)

The easy early levels of NotPron provide quick rewards (image reproduced with permission of David Münnich)

Supporting the completion motivation in ViolaQuest