Evolution of Game Based Learning

As explained by Marc Prensky, the emergence of game based learning came in the last decades of the 20th century when there was a global technology boom. Today's students have lived their entire lives with access to technology and because of this, he argues that today’s students “think and process information fundamentally differently than their predecessors." This timeline explores the evolution of game based learning.

1967-01-01 00:00:00

LOGO Created

LOGO, a programming language, was created in 1967 by Seymour Papert and Wally Feurzeig.

1970-01-01 11:05:54

LOGO in Education

Schools started using Logo, a programming language, to teach a blend of mathematics and early computer programming.

1971-01-01 00:00:00

The Oregon Trail

The Oregon Trail was created in 1971 by Don Rawitsch, Bill Heinemann, and Paul Dillenberger. It has been argued as the first real educational game and could be found in school computer labs all the way through the 1980s. It was known to be a success because it integrated American history lessons into a familiar gaming experience.

1978-01-01 00:00:00

Apple II Computer

In 1977 the Apple II, an 8 bit computer, was created. Games could be played off of floppy disks, meaning educational games at the time were designed for the Apple II. Apple was also actively approaching schools to put their Apple II computers in their school.

1980-01-01 00:00:00

The Learning Company

The Learning Company was founded in 1980 and still goes strong today. Their popular games at the time were Reader Rabbit and ClueFinder, which encouraged reading and problem solving skills. They state that "The Learning Company® is proud to provide the best in interactive games and books for kids and families. For over 30 years, we have engaged learners young and old with outstanding series from Carmen Sandiego™ to Oregon Trail® to Curious George® and more."

1984-01-01 00:00:00


The CD-ROM was created by Sony and Phillips, which had a big impact on the gaming world. The CD-ROM's increased storage allowed games with enhanced graphics, ultimately leading to today's feeling of game play.

1985-01-01 00:00:00

Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?

In 1985 Gary Carlston created "Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?” It can still be argued as one of the most popular educational video games in history. Why? Because it made geography and world culture an interactive, exciting experience trying to solve a crime by chasing a thief.

1986-01-01 00:00:00

Reader Rabbit

“Reader Rabbit”, from The Learning Company, was released and is also argued as one of the most successful educational games in history. So much so that even today new versions are being released. The original game taught pre-school and young elementary students how to read and spell through mini-games led by a rabbit.

1987-01-01 00:00:00

Math Blaster

Math Blaster was released in 1987, which had students zap numbers as the heroic "Blastronaut" with the help of his robot dog Spot. It was so successful that is inspired spinoffs for other subject areas.

1987-01-02 00:00:00

Number Muncher

Number Munchers was also released in 1987 with a Pac-man feel to it as students led their "muncher" across a grid eating numbers to solve math problems.

1989-01-01 00:00:00

Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing

Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing was released in 1989 and very quickly became the standard for computer and keyboarding classes across the country and all the way through the 1990s. It is still produced today. It also marks one of the first moments that public education systems recognized the revolution of technology and the need for students to develop typing skills. It became such a popular program as students were taught to type quickly and efficiently with speed based challenges.

1989-01-02 00:00:00

SIM Games

It was Will Wright in 1989 who developed the first "Sim" game. "The Sims" and "SimCity" were instant hits and still played today. It is, of course, more of a game than an educational resource, but it can teach problem solving skills, planning, and budgeting.

1991-08-06 00:00:00

The World Wide Web

On August 6th, 1991, the World Wide Web went live! It would, however, be years before becoming available for residential access. Even today the impact of the world wide web is still unmeasurable! For the area of game based learning, it has changed the way students can access and play educational games.

1999-01-01 00:00:00


Whyville is an elementary educational game that was among the first to merge education and a virtual reality. This game was one of the first games to include a virtual currency system awarded from educational tasks. This model still exists today.

2003-01-01 00:00:00


Scratch really got the age of coding started. It was designed for elementary students to program movements to their characters and design their own games.

2005-01-01 00:00:00

Brain Age: Train Your Brain in Minutes a Day

Brain Age: Train Your Brain in Minutes a Day, from Nintendo, was among the first games designed specifically to enhance the brain with puzzles and memorization tasks. Today's most popular form of brain training is Lumosity, not launched until two years later in 2007.

2006-01-01 00:00:00

Big Brain Academy

Having sold over 3 million copies, Big Brain Academy was Nintendo's way of spreading educational games on a large scale.

2007-01-01 00:00:00


Now with over 70 million members, Lumosity is a brain training program with games focused on enhancing memory, attention, flexibility, speed of processing, and problem solving skills.

2007-01-02 00:00:00

"Digital Game-Based Learning" by Marc Prensky

"Digital Game-Based Learning" by Marc Prensky was first published in 2001 by McGraw-Hill, and re-published in 2007 by Paragon House. It was the first comprehensive look at using digital games for learning. In his book he describes both the theory and the practice of Digital Games-Based learning, in education, training and the military.

2010-04-03 00:00:00

Apple iPad

In April of 2010, the first ever iPad was released. It was only a year later that schools across the nation began purchasing iPad carts and putting them in the hands of students. Today they are the primary technology tool for K - 2 students. This has opened the door to bring game based learning to the table and in the classroom.

2011-01-01 00:00:00


Minecraft was released in 2011 and has become a massive multiplayer 3D world. This game was not originally designed as an educational game but has recently become a hot topic because of the creative construction element. Now there is a growing "MinecraftEdu" movement as educators seek to meet the students where they are and with there interest using Minecraft.

2011-01-01 00:00:00

The Chromebook

In 2011, the Chromebook was first sold. By 2012, schools had become the largest category of customer. Today, Chromebooks and iPads are the two top choices schools pick for technology integration. This has opened the door to bring game based learning to the table and in the classroom.

2013-12-09 00:00:00

Hour of Code

On December 9, 2013, Code.org (a non-profit organization and eponymous website) launched the "Hour of Code 2013" challenge nationwide to promote computer science during computer science week. Today, along with game based learning, coding has found a place in schools and classrooms.

2018-07-01 00:00:00

Game Based Learning

So where are we today? Game based learning, or GBL as they say, has become a house-hold name. Reaching students through inquiry-based, problem-based, project-based, and game-based learning has taken the stage. Research into the neurological end of GBL is also a hot topic. Big on the front is also building autonomous learners. So where are we today? We're still learning and still evolving, but GBL isn't new. We are now seeking to define its outcomes and seeking to determine best practices to implement it in the classroom!

Evolution of Game Based Learning

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