"Throughout history games have been an integral part of human culture, and many different types of games have been played for both leisure and more serious purposes, such as practicing war strategies or learning relevant skills and/or competences.
In more recent time, digital games have effectively permeated most areas of popular culture and society in general. Digital games are no longer confined to the arcades or the darkened rooms of teenage boys, but have successfully broken (and continues to break) new ground, forcing us to keep revising what games are - and can be.
Seeing the overwhelming popularity of games, acknowledging the hours and hours of hard work and learning unfolding in the virtual worlds all across the globe all the time, it should come as no surprise, that an increasing number of researchers, game developers and educators are interested in games.
Many frustrated teachers have undoubtedly wished for her students to mobilize the same motivation in school as they do when playing their favorite video games. Others have seen and marveled at the complex learning processes sparked by a burning desire to perform well in, say, World of Warcraft.
Such is the basic logic behind the eager attempts to include games in education; “what if we could make educational learning contexts as compelling as do games?” Despite this seemingly deceptively simple logic and the rapidly growing interest, it would also seem that we are not yet anywhere near a full-blown understanding or application of games in education.
On the contrary, the uptake of games and game based learning in schools is rather slow and facing many obstacles on its way. Only few teachers have yet applied games in their teaching, and those who do are rarely given the resources to pay any attention to the enormous importance of sharing their valuable experiences.
As an immediate consequence, those who considers taking the first steps may feel all alone and without substantial backing from likeminded practitioners. In addition, there is the more trivial (yet important) obstacles related to ICT and technology in general, such as an uncertainty or intimidation on part of the teachers, lack of resources (sufficiently powerful computers, relevant software/games etc.) and - most consequential, perhaps - the lack of time to explore these new teaching methods.
These observations constitute the point of departure of the GAMEiT Project, and thus also this following handbook, clearly expressed by our mission statement: “We aim to identify, collect, test and distribute good practice in game based learning. Our project will result in a game based learning pedagogy”. Mathias Poulsen Preface to GAMEiT handbook