State of Play: An Historic Review of Playful Learning Approaches in Higher Education

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review

5 Downloads (Pure)


Play is an integral part of childhood education for centuries, however, in an increasingly instrumental Higher Education environment, the relationship between play and learning becomes more distant as the focus moves from intrinsic interest to learning for assessments.
Over the past fifty years there has been a movement in the use of playful approaches in Higher Education, showing increased use of gameful techniques and a gradually increasing acceptance of play. This article describes the trends over this time, based on a narrative literature review of the use of games, play, and playful techniques in the context of learning in Higher Education.
An analysis of 1090 journal articles dating from 1973 to 2022 enabled an exploration of the trends of research in play and learning in universities, focusing on role play, business simulation games, traditional play, digital play, game making, gamification, and post-digital play.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 4 Sept 2023
EventHigher Education Research, Practice, and Policy: Connections & Complexities: SRHE International Conference 2023 - Conference Aston, Birmingham, United Kingdom
Duration: 4 Dec 20238 Dec 2023


ConferenceHigher Education Research, Practice, and Policy: Connections & Complexities
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Internet address

Cite this