James Paul Gee writes in E-Learning, 2(1):
Abstract This article asks how good video and computer game designers manage to get new players to learn long, complex and difficult games. The short answer is that designers of good games have hit on excellent methods for getting people to learn and to enjoy learning. The longer answer is more complex. Integral to this answer are the good principles of learning built into successful games. The author discusses 13 such principles under the headings of ‘Empowered Learners’, ‘Problem Solving’ and ‘Understanding’ and concludes that the main impediment to implementing these principles in formal education is cost. This, however, is not only (or even so much) monetary cost. It is, importantly, the cost of changing minds about how and where learning is done and of changing one of our most profoundly change-resistant institutions: the school.
There is a lot of current interest in games and learning. This article lays out some of the theoretical principles of learning and provides examples of how they are applied in games.