source: | 2000 Games, Devotions, Themes, Ideas and more for Youth Work
only for private using

Game Pedagogy

Game Pedagogy: There are important functions in educational games that we give the adolescent for his travels through life.

Significance of Educational Games

Playing means:

Fun, games and suspense…

… but also the knowledge of

Victory and Defeat
Strengths and Weaknesses
Feelings of Self-confidence and Fear can be close together


  • That some games are not fun for some children
  • That some games are too simple and/or boring for some children
  • That some children are not used to playing in a group

In play, a lot can be revealed. And within lays the meaning of the game. It encourages social behavior and self analysis.

Often easily said, one hears “Life is a Game”. In playing, important aspects of human cohabitation are shown:

  • Competition
  • Power (order, chaos, leaders, followers)
  • Sexuality
  • Recognition and ego-boosting
  • Fun and joy
  • Performance orientation
  • Trustworthiness
  • Charity
  • Compromise
  • Experience defeat
  • Destructive behavior
  • Discover and encourage abilities
  • Experience and reduce insecurity
  • Facing fears
  • Overcome inhibition
  • Undergo experiences one might not encounter
  • Measure oneself, struggle and find out one’s limits
  • Analysis of oneself and of others

From this is play awfully important. There are important functions in educational games that we give the adolescent for his travels through life. The points listed here are but a small sample and should be used as an initial special orientation for youth work and the preparation of suitable game evenings.

Considerations / Orientation / Planning


By the planning of group games, station games or an evening of different group games, the following considerations are important in organizing and choosing the appropriate games.

  • What interests/wishes does the group have?

    It doesn’t make sense to plan an ambitious quiz evening when the group would rather play action games.

  • Are there strong and weak players sprinkled throughout the group?

    Let’s stay with the example of a quiz evening. Are there students of a elementary school or high school in the group (students from different school grade) ? If the questions are inappropriately chosen, one group may feel inferior. Or in the case of sports: you want to play soccer and part of the group in on the soccer team but the others don’t play at all, then an evening of just soccer would be very boring for this group.

    What is the age span of the group?

    When 10 year olds and 15 year olds are in a group, there are surely various interests, differing physical strengths and weaknesses and the older group may not find the younger group to be equal game partners (which is mostly the case). It is possible that the older group decides what to do and the younger group follows their wishes. This is also a learning experience, but one should consider this in planning.

  • How big is the group?

    It could be rather difficult to hold a relay race with only 8 players. The choice of game and the preparation depends on the size of the group. Maybe just the playing field/area needs to be made smaller for a small group?

  • What experience does the group have with games?

    Of course, there are wild battle games where it sometimes gets squeamish. Games like this are better suited for a newly established group who doesn’t know each other very well yet. Also when the majority of the children are “sensitive”, should games like this not be held. It is important to consider the experiences with games that the group has had. Otherwise, the group will be overtaxed and/or some of the members might stay away because the games are too wild. The experiences must be slowly introduced and intensified.

  • How is the mood of the group at the present time?

    If there is friction in the group, aggression and rowdiness can make the games get out of hand. Instead of play, the game turns serious. Maybe a quieter game would be advisable. Role playing games can let certain moods become clear and bring out topics for discussion. Have an open ear for casually said remarks “this game again, “what, soccer again?” “another quiz?”. These remarks show that the group in not at the moment in the mood for this game and that you must in your choice of games, build in more diversity.

  • How will one or another game influence the group dynamic?

    A positive as well as a negative atmosphere can be made by a few members of the group and can be transferred to the others in the group as well. The previously named points “Strengths and Weaknesses”, “Interests and Wishes”, but also the “Mood of the Group” can influence the group dynamic in a game. Consider the effects of the game and how you will handle it. Consider also how you can steer the group dynamic and how to bring into play your program points.

Organization and Orientation of Games

The preparations made ahead are important, but also your personal goals for the planned games.

  • What is the Goal?

    • Enjoyment, action fun?
    • Let off steam?
    • To deal with and deepen a theme?
    • To quiet the group? Bring it together? To let them get to know each other?
  • Which games are suitable?

    • Not every game supports a goal
    • What effects does one or another game have?

A group that does not yet know each other well, should preferably play a few simple get acquainted games instead of contests where there are only winners or losers. Or, a group with a vast age span can run into the danger of the older members always being the winners or the “special ones”.

Planning Group Games

Planning for group games involves a few practical things – a material list and a time table must be made.

  • What kind of materials will be needed?

    The best of ideas can not be realized when you don’t have the needed materials. Plan ahead and obtain the materials you need before you need them. Finding out 5 minutes before you want to start one or another game that you don’t have the required materials is too late to substitute another game. This leaves you with the same old games to play again.

  • Is the room or area suitable for the game?

    Water games are better played by water and not in the house. Wild outdoor games with hot pursuits in rocky or hilly areas are bound to encourage more injuries than would be found in flat areas.

    How long will the game take?

    In planning an evening of games, consider how long each game might take.

  • Going over the allotted time for the evening

    Can you keep to the allotted time for the evening or can you go a little longer? Have the parents been informed that the children will be going home a little later?

  • What is the playing order of the games?

    With which game should I start? What game order? With which game can I end the evening? It really does matter and therein lies the trick. A few starter games that inspire and excites, draws the group together. The end games should also be chosen with care. At the end, the group should be quieter and may say: “That was terrific!” and will already look forward to the next meeting.

  • What happens after the games?

    An intensive discussion or a contemplative prayer will probably be problematic after an action filled game evening. The group needs a few minutes to “change gears”.

  • Who will present the games?

Game Rules

The planning and supplying of the rules is also important. With them, you can guide a lot, but sometimes they can be so complicated that on one understands them. One problem can be that some members of the group do not understand or that some members don’t pay attention to the rules. Therefore, a few pointers:

  • Think through the game ahead of time and consider the possibilities – out of them determine the rules
  • Through a minimum of rules, more freedom of play is allowed to develop
  • Rules give the player security and remove fear
  • Set up clear, simple rules
  • Alter or change the rules when you see that they otherwise don’t work
  • But don’t simply disregard the rules because children have a strong sense of fairness

Dividing the Group

Except for getting acquainted games or circle games, a fair division of the group is important where different groups or persons, with or against each other, must play a game. All too fast, the same clicks are formed, the strong against the weak, the big against the small, the “old experienced” against the “new ones”. Through this, a lot is lost: the fun of playing, fairness and a sense of community. Every player will surely not approve of every group, but he can be told that the playing together and the fun is more important than always wanting to win. How to divide the group? There are several possibilities, again depending on the group situation.

  • Simple counting off
  • Drawing Straws
  • Really dividing older and younger players, whereas the younger players get a break through the rules
  • The group itself can choose fair teams
  • The group leader chooses the teams

The Group Leader and the Presentation of the Games

The success or failure of a game depends on the group leader. The same game, presented and executed by different group leaders, can under certain circumstances come out quite differently. The group leaders experience, how well he relates to the group, the presentation, and to tell the truth, how he “sells” the game and its ideas, influences the success or failure of the game.

  • The group leaders experience and know-how is important because with experience can the game situations be better recognized and suitable dealt with
  • Division of work between leaders: who does what? How do the leaders get along with each other?
  • How will the game be packaged, introduced and lead?
  • How witty, elegant and with pep can the leader explain and moderate the game?
  • How confidently will the rules be explained: more likely unsure, or straight forward and clearly explained?
  • Will the explanation be repeated again, although everyone has understood it?
  • How an I fit all the games in one setting?
  • How can the leader step in and motivate?
  • How can the leader keep track of the whole group? Even here the experienced leader must be able to organize and keep discipline in the group so that the group doesn’t bunch up and become a confused mess of people, or just stands around or that the leader can not see how the game is going and see who wins or cheats.

Game Varieties / Categories / Themes

There are various varieties and categories in which games can be sorted. A game may fit into more than one category using variations of the games ideas. A circle game may be made into a competition game with a change of the rules. Here are a few thoughts and the essential characteristics of the respective game categories.

Circle Games

  • Circle: sign and feeling of community
  • No one can hide
  • All are included
  • No one can withdraw from the game

Getting Acquainted Games

  • Are suitable for new groups to get acquainted
  • To learn about relationships
  • Simple, careful games test the reactions of strength and weaknesses
  • To trust the leader together as a group, but also that the leader trusts the group
  • To be open and be able to approach each other as a learning goal, to win trust, and know what is expected of one.

Role Playing

  • To try out and learn through taking on different roles social attitudes and behaviors
  • Learning in play what can be serious in later life
  • To look into roles, attitudes, analysis, increased awareness

Action – Competition – Chance Games

Concentration – Guessing Games

Quizzes and more

Game Pedagogy (Education) – Closing Remarks and Tips

Game Pedagogy: There are important functions in educational games that we give the adolescent for his travels through life.
  • Games and playing must be fun – no one should be forced to play
  • Flexibility and spontaneity are important in play
  • Good preparation is important: a good game can go wrong with poor preparation. Good preparation gives the players security
  • Games should flow easily from one to another. Long interruptions and preparations for the next game are disruptive and can lead to the group losing desire and the mood – it fall apart.
  • Include variety. This means not playing the same games repeatedly, but also trying new games
  • Don’t play games to death. Better to switch to the next game while the players still agree this game is nice. First, when a similar game is played in the next game evening, it may be better received and become a success. Second, a terrific game is remembered and is better than having the enthusiasm dwindle with time.
  • Our game collection encourages multi faceted games, that as needed, can be changed to suit the respective groups for play.

[ © | 2000 Games and Ideas for Youth Work ] - 2000 Games and Ideas for Youth Work
picture youthwork picture youthwork picture youthwork picture youthwork picture youthwork picture youthwork