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Communications of the ACM


Testing Educational Digital Games

'Level Up! OK!' text in game screen format, illustration

Credit: Tartila

The digital game industry is a multibillion-dollar global enterprise.14 Fostered by the development of sophisticated software and hardware as well as an interest in gaming among individuals around the world, the financial impact of digital games is continuously evolving. Accordingly, new streaming platforms are launching, and existing online game systems are expanding to meet the demand.14 Traditionally referred to as video games, the term digital games is a unifying term encompassing interactive games played on consoles, smartphones, tablets, personal computers, and other devices.2 The Entertainment Software Association indicates 214.4 million Americans play digital games.3 National data also suggests 75% of American households have one person that plays digital games.3

In light of the exponential increase in the use of digital games, they have become commonplace in academic settings such as elementary schools, middle schools, high schools, and postsecondary institutions. According to an article published by the American Psychological Association, educational digital games complement a myriad of instructional contexts and have the potential to enhance traditional classroom environments.9 Despite needing more research to validate the educational benefits of digital games, the use of educational digital games has increased in recent years. In a study comprising 488 teachers, more than 50% of the participants used digital games in the classroom.5


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