October 7, 2015
The potential of digital games to support learning has been well documented, and yet the empirical evidence on the impacts of digital games on student learning finds varied effects. This paper explores an issue that we believe is central to realizing the potential of digital games for influencing learning: the relationship between games and the transfer of knowledge, and specifically the need to support the meaningful integration of games into instruction. We examine the theoretical and empirical literature on how middle-grade students can transfer knowledge and skills gained from digital gameplay to develop new conceptual models of the science concepts that the games target, focusing on the research on the use of analogical reasoning in science. Finally, we illustrate this approach with an example of using analogies with digital games in middle school science classes.