You are here:

A systematic review of literature on students as educational computer game designers

, Bozok University, Turkey ; , Gazi University, Turkey

Journal of Educational Multimedia and Hypermedia Volume 27, Number 3, ISSN 1055-8896 Publisher: Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE), Waynesville, NC USA


This study presents the findings of a systematic literature review on educational computer game development activity utilized in learning environments. The main aim of this review is to investigate the effects of game design activity on learning outcomes of students. Additionally, there are other factors examined in the review such as participant type, publication year, method, and game development tools. A total of 45 research articles published in the journals indexed in Web of Science were selected for analysis. The results show that the greatest advantage of computer game design activity that it supports students’ programming and problem solving skills. The review also revealed that computer game design activity provides an effective way in promoting children’ creative thinking skills. It was indicated that the biggest barrier to implementing game design activity in learning environments is the lack of expertise of the students and teachers in developing computer games.


Hava, K. & Cakir, H. (2018). A systematic review of literature on students as educational computer game designers. Journal of Educational Multimedia and Hypermedia, 27(3), 323-341. Waynesville, NC USA: Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE). Retrieved August 22, 2018 from .

View References & Citations Map


  1. Akçaoğlu, M. (2014). Learning problem-solving through making games at the game design and learning summer program. Educational Technology Research and Development, 62(5), 583–600.
  2. Akçaoğlu, M., & Koehler, M.J. (2014). Cognitive outcomes from the gamedesign and learning (GDL) after-school program. Computers& Education, 75, 72–81.
  3. Allsop, Y. (2015). A reflective study into children’s cognition when making computer games. British Journal of Educational Technology, 47(4), 665–679.
  4. An, Y.J. (2016). A case study of educational computer game design by middle school students. Educational Technology Research and Development, 64(4), 555-571.
  5. Baytak, A. (2009). An investigation of the artifacts, outcomes, and processes of constructing computer games about environmental science in a fifth grade science classroom. The Pennsylvania State University.
  6. Baytak, A., Land, S.M., & Smith, B.K. (2011). Children as educational computer game designers: An exploratory study. The Turkish Online Journal of Educational Technology, 10(4), 84–92.
  7. Baytak, A., & Land, S.M. (2011). An investigation of the artifacts and process of constructing computers games about environmental science in a fifth grade classroom. Educational Technology Research and Development, 59(6), 765–782.
  8. Carbonaro, M., Szafron, D., Cutumisu, M., & Schaeffer, J. (2010). Computergame construction: A gender-neutral attractor to computing science. Computers& Education, 55(3), 1098–1111.
  9. Cheng, G. (2009). Using game making pedagogy to facilitate student learning of interactive multimedia. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 25(2), 204-220.
  10. Çağıltay, N.E. (2007). Teaching software engineering by means of computergame development: Challenges and opportunities. British Journal of Educational Technology, 38(3), 405–415.
  11. Çakır, N.A., Gass, A., Foster, A., & Lee, F.J. (2017). Development of a gamedesign workshop to promote young girls’ interest towards computing through identity exploration. Computers& Education, 108, 115-130.
  12. Denner, J., Werner, L., & Ortiz, E. (2012). Computer games created by middle school girls: Can they be used to measure understanding of computer science concepts? Computers& Education, 58 (1), 240–249.
  13. El-Nasr, M.S., & Smith, B.K. (2006). Learning through game modding. ACM Computers in Entertainment, 4(1).
  14. Feng, C.Y., & Chen, M.P. (2014). The effects of goal specificity and scaffolding on programming performance and self-regulation in game design. British Journal of Educational Technology, 45(2), 285-302.
  15. Fisher, S., & Jenson, J. (2017). Producing alternative gender orders: a critical look at girls and gaming. Learning, Media and Technology, 42(1), 87-99.
  16. Frydenberg, M. (2015). Achieving digital literacy through game development: an authentic learning experience. Interactive Technology and Smart Education, 12(4), 256-269.
  17. Gennari, R., Melonio, A., Raccanello, D., Brondino, M., Dodero, G., Pasini, M., & Torello, S. (2017). Children’s emotions and quality of products in participatory game design. International Journal of Human-Computer Studies, 101, 45-61.
  18. Hwang, G.J., Hung, C.M., & Chen, N.S. (2014). Improving learning achievements, motivations and problem-solving skills through a peer assessmentbased game development approach. Educational Technology Research and Development, 62(2), 129–145.
  19. Ke, F. (2014). An implementation of design-based learning through creating educational computer games: A case study on mathematics learning during design and computing. Computers& Education, 73, 26–39.
  20. Leonard, J., Buss, A., Gamboa, R., Mitchell, M., Fashola, O.S., Hubert, T., & Almughyirah, S. (2016). Using Robotics and Game Design to Enhance Children’s Self-Efficacy, STEM Attitudes, and Computational Thinking Skills. Journal of Science Education and Technology, 25(6), 860-876.
  21. Li, Q. (2010). Digital game building: Learning in a participatory culture. Educational Research, 52(4), 427–443.
  22. Li, Q. (2012). Understanding enactivism: a study of affordances and constraints of engaging practicing teachers as digital game designers. Educational Technology Research and Development, 60(5), 785-806.
  23. Li, Q., Lemieux, C., Vandermeiden, E., & Nathoo, S. (2013). Are you ready to teach secondary mathematics in the 21st century? A study of preservice teachers’ digital game design experience. Journal of Research on Technology in Education, 45(4), 309-337.
  24. Maclaurin, M. (2011). The design of Kodu: A tiny visual programming language for children on the Xbox 360. ACM Sigplan Notices,46(1).
  25. Maloney, J., Burd, L., Kafai, Y., Rusk, N., Silverman, B., & Resnick, M. (2004, January). Scratch: a sneak preview [education]. In Creating, connecting and collaborating through computing, 2004. Proceedings. Second International Conference on (pp. 104-109). IEEE.
  26. Mercer, T.G., Kythreotis, A.P., Stolte, T., Robinson, Z.P., George, S.M., & Haywood, S.K. (2017). The Use of Educational Game Design and Play in Higher Education to Influence Sustainable Behaviour. International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, 18(3), 359-384.
  27. Muñoz González, J.M., Rubio García, S., Pichardo, C., & Ivanovna, M. (2015). Strategies of Collaborative Work in the Classroom through the Design of VideoGames. Digital Education Review, 27, 69-84.
  28. Navarrete, C.C. (2013). Creative thinking in digital game design and development: A case study. Computers& Education, 69, 320–331.
  29. Owston, R., Wideman, H., Ronda, N.S., & Brown, C. (2009). Computer game development as a literacy activity. Computers& Education, 53(3), 977–989.
  30. Prayaga, L., & Coffey, J.W. (2008). Computer Game Development: An Instructional Strategy to Promote Higher Order thinking Skills. I-Manager’s Journal of Educational Technology, 5(3), 40.
  31. Pretelín-Ricárdez, A., & Sacristán, A.I. (2015). Videogame construction by engineering students for understanding modelling processes: the case of simulating water behaviour. Informatics in Education-An International Journal, 14(2), 265-277.
  32. Resnick, M. (2008). Sowing the seeds for a more creative society. Learning& Leading with Technology, 35(4), 18-22.
  33. Reynolds, R., & Caperton, I.H. (2011). Contrasts in student engagement, meaning-making, dislikes, and challenges in a discovery-based program of game design learning. Educational Technology Research and Development, 59(2), 267-289.
  34. Reynolds, R., & Chiu, M.M. (2013). Formal and informal context factors as contributors to student engagement in a guided discovery-based program of game design learning. Learning, Media and Technology, 38(4), 429-462.
  35. Reynolds, R., & Chiu, M.M. (2015). Reducing digital divide effects through student engagement in coordinated game design, online resource use, and social computing activities in school. Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology.
  36. Robertson, J., & Howells, C. (2008). Computer game design: Opportunities for successful learning. Computers& Education, 50(2), 559–578.
  37. Robertson, J. (2012). Making games in the classroom: Benefits and gender concerns. Computers& Education, 59(2), 385–398.
  38. Ruggiero, D., & Green, L. (2017). Problem solving through digital game design: A quantitative content analysis. Computers in Human Behavior, 73, 28-37.
  39. Sancar Tokmak, H. (2015). Pre-service teachers’ perceptions on TPACK development after designing educational games. Asia-Pacific Journal of Teacher Education, 43(5), 392-410.
  40. Seals, C.D., Mcmillian, Y., Rouse, K., Agarwal, R., Johnson, A.W., Gilbert, J.E., & Chapman, R. (2008). Computer Gaming at Every Age-A Comparative Evaluation of Alice. I-Manager’s Journal of Educational Technology, 5(3), 1–9.
  41. Sheridan, K.M., Clark, K., & Williams, A. (2013). Designing games, designing roles: A study of youth agency in an urban informal education program. Urban Education, 48(5), 734-758.
  42. Slussareff, M., & Boháčková, P. (2016). Students as Game Designers vs. ‘Just’Players: Comparison of Two Different Approaches to Location-Based Games Implementation into School Curricula. Digital Education Review, (29), 284-297.
  43. Thomas, M.K., Ge, X., & Greene, B.A. (2011). Fostering 21st century skill development by engaging students in authentic game design projects in a high school computer programming class. Journal of Educational Computing Research, 44(4), 391-408.
  44. Vos, N., vander Meijden, H., & Denessen, E. (2011). Effects of constructing versus playing an educational game on student motivation and deep learning strategy use. Computers& Education, 56(1), 127–137.
  45. Werner, L., Denner, J., & Campe, S. (2014). Children programming games: A strategy for measuring. ACM Transactions on Computing Education (TOCE), 14(4), 24.1–24.22.

These references have been extracted automatically and may have some errors. If you see a mistake in the references above, please contact