Connected Gaming: What Making Video Games Can Teach Us About Learning and Literacy 

MIT Press


Over the last decade, video games designed to teach academic content have multiplied. Students can learn about Newtonian physics from a game or prep for entry into the army. An emphasis on the instructionist approach to gaming, however, has overshadowed the constructionist approach, in which students learn by designing their own games themselves. In this book, Yasmin Kafai and Quinn Burke discuss the educational benefits of constructionist gaming—coding, collaboration, and creativity—and the move from “computational thinking” toward “computational participation.” 

Kafai and Burke point to recent developments that support a shift to game making from game playing, including the game industry’s acceptance, and even promotion, of “modding” and the growth of a DIY culture. Kafai and Burke show that student-designed games teach not only such technical skills as programming but also academic subjects. Making games also teaches collaboration, as students frequently work in teams to produce content and then share their games with in class or with others online. Yet Kafai and Burke don’t advocate abandoning instructionist for constructionist approaches. Rather, they argue for a more comprehensive, inclusive idea of connected gaming in which both making and gaming play a part.


“The best way to make a critical reader is to teach someone to write. The best way to make a critical gamer is to teach someone to design games. That’s how you liberate young people to be problem solvers and innovators. Kafai and Quinn’s book is essential reading for all educators and anyone else interested in modern teaching and learning.”
James Paul Gee, Mary Lou Fulton Presidential Professor of Literacy Studies, Regents’ Professor, Arizona State University; author of What Video Games Have to Teach Us About Learning and Literacy

Connected Gaming is a landmark book on games and learning that situates cutting-edge research on games within the deep and enduring work of constructionism and participatory learning. It offers a crucial touchstone for parents, educators, and companies building games for social impact, and will serve as a critical volume for decades to come.”
Kurt Squire, Department of Informatics, University of California, Irvine; author of Video Games and Learning

“In Connected Gaming Kafai and Burke lay out a solid rationale and strong evidence for connecting learning and gaming through game construction. The compelling case that they make not only draws upon decades of their own work but uniquely connects with dozens of other projects and initiatives. It draws a logical line between the contructionist thinking of Papert straight through to Minecraft. This is a book that provides evidence to academics, educators, and innovators seeking to engage students through new pedagogies and teach them new practices in meaningful ways. Kafai and Burke have paved the way for decades more work connecting gaming, constructionism, and learning.”
Eric Klopfer, Professor/Director, MIT Scheller Teacher Education program; author of The More We Know and Augmented Learning


Related Resources


Make Code Play: A Project Guide To Game Design Beyond the Screen

MAKE CODE PLAY is a guide in which we describe three projects that expand game design beyond the screen. The projects range in difficulty level from starter to intermediate. Some projects are collaborative, while in others, students preferred to individually make their own game designs. Over the last three years we have piloted these projects with over a hundred elementary, middle, and high school students and their teachers. We have used materials that are commonly found in classrooms, schools, or homes, so they can be easily adapted in classroom or workshops. Our construction kit MaKey MaKey can be purchased and reused for the projects, and a programming tool, Scratch that is accessible and freely available around the world.

Constructionist Gaming: Understanding the Benefits of Making Games for Learning

This articles are a good primer for the subjects covered in Connected Gaming.

Kafai, Y. B. & Burke, Q. (2015). Constructionist Gaming: Understanding the Benefits of Making Games for Learning. Educational Psychologist, 50(4), 313-334.