This report discusses the potential of games to support learning, and what innovative game-based (or “gameful”) learning and teaching practices can look like in a range of New Zealand school settings. Over 2 years, we undertook fieldwork in 14 schools, interviewed 21 teachers and more than 100 students ranging from Year 3 to Year 13. We looked at learning and teaching practices involving all kinds of games (physical, role play, tabletop, and digital), and how games, game design, or gamification fitted in with teachers’ curriculum and pedagogical goals. We also undertook an extensive review of New Zealand and international literature, and convened workshops and a national conference.
A key finding is that educators who are open to working with the wide-ranging affordances of games apply creative and nuanced pedagogical thinking to the design of gameful learning. This generates an array of curriculum-linked learning opportunities, with an emphasis on “front end” aims of The New Zealand Curriculum (Ministry of Education, 2007), development of key competencies, and creating an inclusive learning environment that supports and enables diverse strengths and interests to emerge, benefiting individuals as well as the collective.