You are here

Post date: Monday, 7 September 2015

Games for learning research project update #1

Meet the research team...

Welcome to the first update blog for NZCER's games for learning project. We're well into the scoping  phase of the project and here's what we've been working on:


  • drawing together existing New Zealand and international literature on games for learning;
  • establishing research relationships with New Zealand learners and teachers who are using, playing, or building games as part of their learning;
  • connecting with other New Zealand and international researchers in the education and game development fields.


What this means is that we're accumulating and reading lots and lots of existing research literature, corresponding with a lot of teachers and researchers, and fielding lots of incoming queries and interest about the project from people who want to stay connected and involved. We'll be blogging about what's bubbling up across our scoping phase over the coming months, so keep watching this space! If you've been in touch already, you're definitely on our contact list, so hold tight while we work on putting together our next steps. But first up, let's meet the research team and find out why each of us is feeling excited about the work (and play) we've been doing in the project so far...

Rachel Bolstad

I'm leading the project. I've been an educational researcher for almost 15 years, and have recently started actively exploring games for learning from a research point of view. One of the questions I'm curious about is: what do different people (teachers, game developers, kids, and researchers) think are the most important questions we should be asking in our research? What will we all learn once we start to dive into these questions together?

To get my head into this project I've been reading tonnes of interesting research literature, but for me the academic literature is never enough - I've also been immersing myself in game-themed novels, movies, documentaries, and podcasts - and (of course) playing lots of games. (Sometimes I ask myself: is research work really allowed to be this much fun?).

One of the reasons I'm excited about this project is that other people are excited too.  Every day I'm getting emails in my inbox from teachers, school leaders, researchers, and game developers who want to keep in touch or tell me what they have been thinking or doing with games for learning. Our next challenge is to figure out how we are going to draw together all these connections to shape up a really good research project that contributes new knowledge about games for learning in New Zealand.  We have some ideas..but more about that in future posts.

Elliot Lawes

I work at NZCER as a psychometrician. What that means is that I use statistics to help build better tests. For me, the word 'test' usually means a reading, writing or mathematics assessment, but not always. I'm also involved in educational research.

This year I'm part of the games for learning project team. I enjoy playing games and am interested in how my two children learn with them. But I'm not a gamer. Nor am I an expert in game design, or research around the culture of gaming. Nevertheless… Over the last six weeks or so I've been playing a game called Clash of Clans, you can read my first ever blogpost about it here.

Sarah Beresford

I am a researcher and resource developer specialising in visual literacy and culture. I have recently spent 2 years teaching fantastic year 4&5’s, which has given me a new outlook to how I approach my work.

From a visual literacy perspective, one of the things I am interested in about games for learning is finding out about the interpretation and meaning making processes of learners engaged in ‘gaming’ experiences. Also, if and how these mediated experiences, and their construction, are critically analysed as part of the learning process.

I'm excited about this project because the potential scope is huge, new games and creations are emerging constantly. You think you know all about a particular game or project, and suddenly someone has appropriated it in a new creative manner, making it their own, and in turn opening up another door of transformative learning possibilities.To get my head into this project I have been reading lots of cross-disciplinary research, and immersing myself in games and alternative reality themed novels, movies and documentaries. This has of course involved revisiting retro movies, such as The Matrix and Blade Runner. I have also been playing with some Mindstorms Lego, a Raspberry Pi, and a Brick Pi, along with some basic coding programs.

Sue McDowall

I am a researcher and I have been at NZCER for fifteen years. In previous lives I have studied English literature and been a primary school teacher. I have never played a computer game – really! – except for a kind of space invaders shooting type game when I was in the fourth form.

You may wonder why I am on this project about games, when I haven’t really even played them. It is because I am interested in text – and it seems to me that games are very interesting sorts of texts and ones that people find highly engaging. I am interested in the different types of games there are, why people like them, how they work, and how you make them. I am interested in how we might make space for students to analyse and design computer games at school.

Since being on this project I have read a lot of articles about games – and in particular, about games as text – and I use the word text here in its broadest sense. (In another blog I will tell you a bit about what I have been reading). Rachel says that I can’t really be on a project about games if I don’t play them. She has suggested I try Broken Age. She said it took her fifteen hours and that it would probably take me longer. Last night I googled it. There was a trailer. I watched it. It looks quite good. It has a story. Maybe I will play it.

So that's us! In future posts we hope to introduce you to other people who will be part of this research journey. In our next post we'll talk about we've been finding in our initial literature searching and conversations  with researchers, teachers , and game developers. (We'll also check in with Sue to find out whether she did manage to play a game yet!)

Photo Credits: (Picture of Rachel Bolstad) Photo Credit: Gabi Porter. Image has been cropped from original.


Add new comment

Community guidelines

Please refer to the NZCER blogs guidelines for participation on NZCER blog posts.