Ready to Get Our Game On!

by Melissa Keyes DiGioia,CSE & Jessica Shields, CHES

“Through play we learn to recognize patterns in the world around us and develop our own understanding as well as shared understanding with others.”1

Like other sexuality educators we were initially unaware of the potential of this medium as a teaching strategy. When we presented games, we recognized that audiences responded comfortably to the sexuality content. We also noticed that individuals were eager to participate and demonstrate the knowledge or skill they were retaining. Game On! is a culmination of what we have come to understand – that the underlying factor (or pattern) for all of these outcomes was the use of a game format.

Games are useful pedagogical techniques for educators and audiences alike. For educators, the format of a game can appeal to different learning styles. They can be used as a means to motivate audience participation, determine gaps and confirm strengths in knowledge or skills, review and link concepts, and relate information to new situations.2,3For participants, games allow them to practice self-regulation, social skills, and decision-making, acquire and apply knowledge and skills, maintain attention, engage in logical thinking and problem solving, and collaborate with peers.4 In health education, using games increases participant confidence to apply new knowledge, which leads to improved health behaviors resulting in better health.5,6

According to the World Health Organization, “sexual health is a state of physical, mental and social well-being in relation to sexuality; It requires a positive and respectful approach to sexuality and sexual relationships, as well as the possibility of having pleasurable and safe sexual experiences, free of coercion, discrimination and violence.7” Providing appropriate education about sexuality and personal relationships is vital for people to develop the knowledge and skills necessary to be sexually healthy. Game On! is our pedagogical approach to sexual health promotion. In conjunction with our talented contributing authors, the guide contains 19 lessons and a section of ready to use word puzzles that cover fundamental sexuality topics critical for sexual health promotion such as: communication, healthy relationships, anatomy, pregnancy prevention, STI prevention, decision-making, and sexual health care. Each lesson has specific objectives in which participants will review or reinforce knowledge, practice skills, or examine attitudes and beliefs that are intended to expand the comprehension of sexuality and/or sexual health content. 

So get your Game On!  Check out our table of contents and learn more about how to get the guide at   
1Kirkley, S.E., Tomblin, S., & Kirkley, J. (2005) Instructional design authoring support for the development of serious games and mixed reality training. In Proceedings of the Interservice/Industry Training, Simulation and Education Conference (I/ITSEC). Arlingon, VA: National Defense Industrial Association.
2Gredler, M. E. (2003). Games and simulations and their relationships to learning. In D. Jonassen (Ed.), Handbook of research for educational communications and technology (2nd ed.). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
3Westera, W., Nadolski, R.J., Hummel, H.G.K., & Wopereis, I.G.J.H.  (2008).  Serious games for higher education: a framework for reducing design complexity.  Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 24(5), 420-432.  
4De Freitas, S. & Jarvis, S.  (2007).  Serious games—engaging training solutions: A research and development project for supporting training needs. British Journal of Educational Technology, 38(3), 523-525.
5Lieberman, D. A. (2001). Management of chronic pediatric diseases with interactive health games: Theory and research findings. Journal of Ambulatory Care Management, 24(1): 26- 38.
6Yoon, S. & Godwin, A. (2007). Enhancing self-Management in children with sickle cell disease through playing a CD-ROM educational game: A pilot study. Pediatric Nursing, 33(1): 60-72.
7World Health Association. (2010). Developing sexual health programmes: A framework for action. Geneva, Switzerland. Retrieved from