So, you’re interested enough to want to learn more about course games / game-based-learning / game overlays / etc.?  Here are a few of the many excellent resources available.  Tanya Sasser and I curate an ongoing Flipbook Magazine on Games based learning and Gamification in order to keep up on what’s happening in this area.  It is both more comprehensive and more up-to-date than this list, but less organized (being in Flipbook format).  This list is rarely updated, but provides a good start if you are just starting to explore GBL/gamification.


The most common question I get asked is “What tool do you guys use to gamify your class?”  This is a small attempt to answer that question.

  • GameOn is the tool I personally use. It is a free WordPress plug-in that adds an entire gamification framework to a WordPress website. You need to be moderately comfortable with WordPress in order to use it well. You also need to be very comfortable being on the cutting, sometimes bleeding, edge. This is under very active development, so there are occasional hiccoughs and problems. There are also new features regularly released (as in, every few weeks); since I joined last year at least 3 features I’ve requested have appeared. Best fit:
    • teachers who are re-framing their usual content as a game (ie: multi-stage quests)
    • very comfortable with technology
    • interested in an active collaboration community
    • interested/willing to experiment
    • wants control over most of the environment, especially the appearance
  • Classcraft – a gaming overlay that involves minimal need to build by the teacher. Currently free for the school year, supposed to be “really affordable” next year. Well polished, but very limited flexibility. Introduces gaming to the class and increases interest using randomness.  Tie-ins to class content must be created by the teacher. Best fit:
    • teachers who want to add a gamification layer on top of their normal class (ie: minimal re-build of course material)
    • requires the least amount of tech savvy of any of these platforms
    • wants to customize a buff (reward) or nerf (penalty) here and there, but no major building
    • willing to play for a few minutes each day and verbally work in references during class to the classcraft framework
  • 3dGameLab – a fully developed gamification platform, including quests, achievements, rewards, virtual currency, etc. Free demo; $120/year up to 175 students (additional available for a fee, discounts for multiple accounts). Best fit:
    • teachers who are willing to re-frame their content as quests (required in this framework)
    • moderately comfortable with technology
    • willing to trade flexibility and immediate access to new features for a stable and well polished platform
    • interested in an growing collection of other quests from which to draw (get inspired by or wholesale copy for customization)
    • have a small budget or tolerance for small fee
  • Quest Atlantis Remixed – a three dimensional world in which students (grade 4-8) explore and take on quests related to a variety of subjects.  Currently (fall 2014) has around 500 quests, covering all core subjects and many peripheral ones.  Customizable by teachers, but with plenty of scaffolding so you can start smaller with the pre-built quests and modify or expand as you see a need.  Currently offered at no charge, but only to specific school (funded via grants and application are approved individually as fit the grant and capacity needs). Best fit:
    • middle school teachers (especially when the full faculty are participating together)
    • moderately comfortable with technology
    • interested in a platform with pre-built content but plenty of flexiblitity to customize and expand
    • willing to invest the time in PD in exchange for a free platform and community
  • Moodle – hang on a minute.  Moodle?!  Yep!  Free.  Even thought it is really a Lesson Management System (LMS), it has many features and plug-ins that can allow you to create a fairly thorough gamification environment.  Critically, and without any plug-ins or additions, you can create a multi-path, access-restricted sequence of events and rewards that are wrapped within a story; all of the essential elements of gamification are here.  Andoni Sanz has created a bare-bones guide to adding these and several other elements of gamification if Moodle is your preferred (or required) environment (the Moodle part is about 2/3 of the way through the article).  There’s also a guide at moodlerooms entitled, perhaps a bit grandiously at this point, Best Practices: Gamify Your Class with Moodle. Best fit:
    • teachers familiar with Moodle
    • Moodle is well supported, or required, in your district or at your school
    • your content is already in Moodle
    • content tends to be sequential


  • Why does gamification fail?
    Andrzej Marczewski – not a bash of gamification but rather a serious and helpful analysis
  • Create autonomy in gamification and other learning environments
    Karl Kapp – when and why to build choice and control for/by the player into your game.
  • Video game writing and the sense of story
    Tadhag Kelly – An extensive essay on writing lightly for games, to give a sense of story rather than telling a story.  Excellent examples and details about doing it well vs. overdoing it.
  • Designing game narrative
    Terrence Lee – An essay on the difference in writing for a game versus a book or a movie.  Actually, it’s a more general comparison of the three and the key elements/strengths of each, with a frame of narrative.
  • Gamification is a mindset
    Rob Schwartz – One of the best philosophical pieces on gamification and why to use it that I’ve encountered.
  • AMP | Autonomy, Mastery & Purpose
    Mike Skocko – The piece that finally clicked for me why games are so much better for packaging learning than traditional models.  This has changed and continues to change my teaching.
  • Developing Quest to Learn
    Institute of Play – The story of the iconic NYC school that is completely game and quest based.



  • Virtual Education Journal
    A semi-annual journal with lots of articles from teachers using and developing games, gamificiation, simulations, teaching-in-games (eg: Minecraft, Second Life, etc), and so on.  Back issues available online.



  • Building a multiplayer classroompresentation and follow-on write-up for ASB Unplugged 2014. (Replicates much of what was on this site as of February, 2014)
  • Legends, Battles, Mystery, Betrayal – Worldbuilding as course development – presentation and follow-on write-up for the Gaming In Ed virtual conference (September, 2014).  The reward: printable Game Mechanics Tool-Deck (A3 or tabloid)
  • Gnimmargorp: a Programming world brought to you by Iteration – presentation for the Metagame book club as part of the discussion about Lee Sheldon’s The Multiplayer Classroom (see books, above) on March 25th, 2015.  The slides are available separately as well.


I don’t often link other people’s lists; I’d usually rather curate and annotate my own, so you’re not jumping around as much.   However, when someone else puts together an extraordinarily well curated list of resources as Top5OnlineColleges did in 2013 and the folks at Edudemic did in 2014, I need to recognize their work.  Annotated excellently, these lists are some of the best I’ve read:

And there are a couple good lists of books written about or useful within the subject: