Games as instructional technology: Gagne’s Nine Events

The 2012 Horizon Report states that game based learning will be widely adopted in the next  two to three years out. Games can be an effective instructional technology because they often embody theories of learning and instruction (Becker, 2007).   One theory of instruction games embody is Robert Gagne’s Nine Events of instruction. Robert Gagné proposed the Nine Events of Instruction. These events are external steps an instructor follows to facilitate learners’ internal processes.  Below is a synthesis of how games might meet the nine elements.

 Nine Events of Instruction


Gain attention This can be the “attract mode,” when the game seems   to be playing itself; elements of the game are on display, attempting to   entice play. This can also be the introduction, the scenario exposition, the   trailer of a game, as well as motion, noise, music, attacks, or death during   the game.
Inform learners of the objective The objective of the game is often a description of   how to achieve victory and reach goals. This can be the problem set up, part   of story line’s background, documentation, or introductory movies.
Stimulate recall of prior learning The opening sequence may describe what the players   should know, or the background story often provides this information
Present the stimulus A game’s stimuli should encourage, challenge, and   provide choices in a manner that keeps the player engaged. A game with poor   stimuli fails to hold the players’ attention and is not well received.   Stimuli can include characters, environment, and objects.
Provide learning guidance The game itself acts as the facilitator by providing   cues, directions, hints, speeches, partial solutions and help throughout the   game
Elicit performance This is the crux of the game; without performance   and response, there is no game. Players must demonstrate what they know to   move forward
Provide feedback Games provide a variety of feedback: scores,   queries, verbal feedback. Every action has immediate feedback (even if this   is no activity
Assessing performance: Most games are some sort of contest. Assessment is   movement through the game, with success and failure screens. Players must   demonstrate all that is learned.
Enhance retention and transfer  In order to   progress and/or reach higher levels, players must show that they have   mastered skills, knowledge, and strategies. What is learned in earlier games   returns in different, more complicated ways. Players know that what they  learn will be used later

Works Consulted

Becker, K. (2007). Pedagogy in commercial video games. In D. Gibson, C. Aldrich, & M. Prensky (Eds.), Games and simulations in online learning: Research and development frameworks (pp. 21-47). Hershey, PA: Information Science Publishing.

Gagné, R.M., Briggs, L.J., & Wager, W.W. (1988). Principles of instructional design (3rd. ed.). New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston.

Gunter, G.A., Kenny, R.F. & Vick, E.H. (2006). A case for formal design paradigm for serious games. The Journal of the International Digital Media and Arts Association. 3(1). 93-105

Johnson, L., Adams, S., and Cummins, M. (2012).The NMC Horizon Report: 2012 Higher Education Edition. Austin, Texas. The New Media Consortium.

Van Eck, R. (2007). Building artificially intelligent learning games. In D. Gibson, C. Aldrich, & M. Prensky (Eds.), Games and simulations in online learning: Research and development frameworks (pp. 21-47). Hershey, PA: Information Science Publishing.


About Pamela J. Morgan

Librarian at Vanderbilt University Libraries
This entry was posted in Instructional Theory, Learning Theory and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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