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(2013)7th European Conference on Game Based Learning, Proceedings.p.53-61 Mark abstract Digital games are being increasingly used in initiatives to promote personal empowerment and social inclusion (PESI) of disadvantaged groups through learning and participation. There is a lack of knowledge regarding best practices, however. The literature on game-based learning insufficiently addresses the process and context of game-based practice and the diversity of contexts and intermediaries involved in PESI work. This paper takes an important step in addressing this knowledge gap using literature review, case studies, and expert consultation. Based on our findings, we formulate a set of best practices for different stakeholders who wish to set up a project using digital games for PESI. The seven cases in point are projects that represent various application domains of empowerment and inclusion. Case studies were conducted using documentation and interviews, covering background and business case, game format/technology, user groups, usage context, and impact assessment. They provide insight into each case’s strengths and weaknesses, allowing a meta-analysis of the important features and challenges of using digital games for PESI. This analysis was extended and validated through discussion at two expert workshops. Our study shows that a substantial challenge lies in selecting or designing a digital game that strikes a balance between enjoyment, learning and usability for the given use context. The particular needs of the target group and those that help implement the digital game require a highly specific approach. Projects benefit from letting both intermediaries and target groups contribute to the game design and use context. Furthermore, there is a need for multi-dimensional support to facilitate the use and development of game-based practice. Integrating game use in the operation of formal and informal intermediary support organiszations increases the chances at reaching, teaching and empowering those at risk of exclusion. The teachers, caregivers and counsellors involved in the implementation of a game-based approach, in turn can be helped through documentation and training, in combination with structural support.

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Autor: Lizzy Bleumers, Ilse Mariën, Jan Van Looy , James Stewart, Dana Schurmans and Anissa All



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