deHaan, J. (2020). Game-based language teaching is vaporware (Part 1 of 2): Examination of research reports



  • Author: Jonathan deHaan
  • Reviewed by: Jonathon Reinhardt, Aaron Chia Yuan Hung
  • Volume and page numbers: 2 (p. 115 – 139)
  • Date of publication: 2020/07/22
  • Keywords: GBLT, Hype cycle, Integration, Normalization, Pedagogy, Praxis
  • Cite: deHaan, J. (2020). Game-based language teaching is vaporware (Part 1 of 2): Examination of research reports. Ludic Language Pedagogy (2), 115-139.


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These papers explore the idea of academic research as an β€œindustry” that can create useful knowledge and β€œproducts” for teachers. This paper (Part 1) begins by explaining my motivation for examining research reports of game-based language teaching and my consideration of what different readers might appreciate. I then differentiate game-based language teaching from game-based language learning and gamification, and from theoretical and experimental publications. I introduce and describe my 14 theoretical, practical and research-focused questions and criteria for examining reports of GBLT. I then use these questions to examine 28 reports of GBLT; each is explored in a section that describes its importance to GBLT, how GBLT reports have (and have not) prioritized that criteria, and why including that criteria in research could improve game-based language teaching. Academic reports of game-based language teaching over the last 20 years, with a few exceptions, demonstrate a lack of interest in teachers and teaching practices. In my opinion, GBLT as a research field is vaporware. Like a game that has been announced but never shipped, GBLT has been hyped but never fully reported. I end this paper by inviting readers to participate in a contest.