Digital Debris

Embodiment, digital games & technology in Education

The Joy of Failure and the Power of Play

Hello my much neglected blog. It’s been a while. I really must update you more often.

Last year was a bit of a conference whirlwind. I can barely remember which talks I gave or in which locations. This one stood out though, mainly because the theme was something I’ve long been interested in – the delicate balance that good games strike between fun and struggle. The event (Innovate ELT) took place in May 2018 in Barcelona, one of my favourite cities. My talk was about how games frame and manage failure.


Why do we avoid failure in real life but thrive on it in games? In many games you will lose a hundred times for every fleeting victory. Spawn, try, die, repeat. Spawn, try, die, repeat. How is this fun and what can we learn from it? This session will examine how failure, play, fun and learning are intertwined, looking at how specific game mechanics can be applied in lesson design and the creation of learning materials.

What will you get out of this session? A dab of existential philosophy, a scoop of game literacy and a good dose of transferable, game-inspired interaction design ideas.

My slides: