Game Lab at Silikamva High School
Introducing the Learning Arcade!
Play to Learn Lab Masiphumelele
Lab News


The first Learning Innovation Design Lab project was the Play to Learn Lab which explored how digital games support the learning goals of primary school children in a local context.

Several Play to Learn Labs, which were equipped with a ranged of gaming platforms and offered an extramural program, were set up across the Western Cape, in South Africa.


Together with Connect Community Development NPC, the Learning Innovation Design Lab team transformed an empty classroom at Masiphumelele Primary School, in Khayelitsha, into a vibrant, energetic space where children could learn and have fun.

Between 2013 and 2014, the children at Masiphumelele Primary School participated in the Play to Learn Lab program which aimed to evaluate existing learning games and their effects as well as provide design workshops to challenge the students to design and build their own games using appropriate software. The program was split into three phases:

Phase 1 - Explorative phase

Children are given free range to experience a variety of pre-selected games. Qualitative feedback will be gathered to determine which game mechanics and storylines resonate with the kids.

Phase 2 - Structured play

Games will be introduced which are specifically designed for learning purposes (serious games). An evaluation of children’s skills will be done before and after this phase to gain insight into the effectiveness of serious games for specific learning outcomes.

Phase 3 - Game Design

We will now challenge the kids to come up with their own concepts for games they would like to create. Professional games designers will lead the way from initial concept drawings to digitizing the material using age appropriate software such as the MIT developed “Scratch”.


Involving two primary schools on two ends of the globe, the Play to Learn: Cape Town-Berlin project was a collaboration between the Koeln International School of Design and The Learning Innovation Design Lab. With children from two continents collaborating online, the project explored how digital games could support the intercultural learning goals and computer skills of primary school children in a cross cultural context.

During the program, small groups of mixture of students from the two schools worked together to develop small game projects. In different workshops and “game jam” sessions, the students explored the whole design process from ideation (development of the initial idea) to prototyping and testing.

Students in the program set up online collaboration and communication platforms and used the MIT developed tool, Scratch, to create their games.