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Developing critical 21st-century skills through game-based learning (GBL)

    Six free online video games for kids and adults have been selected and featured in the resource packages, prepared by the Media Literacy Coalition specifically for the Media Literacy Days campaign. What Harmony Square, Cat Park Bad News, BBC iReporter, Cranky Uncle and Space Patrol have in common is that playing them, and even more so if it is supported by discussion and is part of a structured learning process led by a competent teacher (mentor, facilitator), but even in informal settings, develops critical thinking and the main key skills of the XXI century. These games bear the characteristics of the so-called serious games serious games where an additional goal of the developer, beyond entertainment, is for the players to acquire skills and knowledge, build attitudes, change behavior, etc. These types of games are very suitable for game-based learning.

    In contrast to gamification of the learning process, where game elements or a game framework are applied to existing learning activities (e.g. role assignment, scoring and ranking by accumulated asset, achievement and reward through points and rankings), game-based learning designs learning activities that are inherently game-like – have a story, rules, goals, require interaction and problem-solving, are fun, introduce players to a variety of relationships – competitive and/or cooperative, and immerse them convincingly in a realm other than the one directly surrounding them. Games like Minecraft, Portal, Civilization, Age of Empires, Assassin’s Creed are particularly suitable for this type of learning and teaching process as are those presented here. Each of them develops specific skills, understandings, ways of thinking, attitudes, and as a final result – the ability to handle and interact with information and media content in a deliberate, complete, confident and responsible manner.