Trends in Digital Games on Special Education

A Review of International Literature



It is a consensus that digital games go beyond the limits of entertainment, showing themselves as a powerful instrument for teaching and learning in different fields of knowledge. In relation to Special Education, many gaps are evident since the discourse of school inclusion started to be disseminated in the reality of ordinary schools, gaps that allow the insertion of digital games as allies to expand the possibilities of reaching a truly inclusive context in institutions teaching and society as a whole. In this context, this work aimed to carry out a systematic review of the literature to outline an overview of the scientific articles that present serious games that deal with issues related to Special Education and its audience. The purpose was to understand the approaches that have been used about serious games for the field of Special Education in order to know the possible contributions of these games to the public of students with disabilities. The Capes Journal Portal was the source of data used and, after the search and selection process, 16 scientific articles were analyzed that contemplated the established criteria. The results report games whose focus is based on the specificities arising from the condition of disabilities, in addition to highlighting the importance of work between game specialists and Special Education and the active participation of the target users during the planning and development of the games. The field of Special Education is promising and fertile for the development of digital games and it is hoped that this review will indicate ways to enable the development of games considering the demands that this field of knowledge presents.

Author Biography

Josiane Pereira Torres, Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, UFMG

Docente na Faculdade de Educação (FaE), Departamento de Administração Escolar da Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais (UFMG). Doutora em Educação Especial pelo programa de Pós--graduação em Educação Especial da Universidade Federal de São Carlos (2018). Mestra (2013) em Educação Especial pelo Programa de Pós-graduação em Educação Especial da UFSCar. Licenciada em Física (2009) pela Universidade Estadual de Mato Grosso do Sul (UEMS). Desenvolve pesquisas nas áreas da inclusão escolar de estudantes do Público-alvo da Educação Especial e políticas públicas de formação de professores para a Educação Especial.


ABT, C. C. Serious Games. Lanham, MD: University Press of America. 1 ed., v. 1, New York, NY, USA. 1987.

AGUILAR L. Learning Prosody in a Video Game-Based Learning Approach. Multimodal Technologies and Interaction, v. 3, n. 3, p. 1-20, 2019.

ALMEIDA, L. M., SILVA, D. P., THEODÓRIO, D. P., et al. ALTRIRAS: A Computer Game for Training Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder in the Recognition of Basic Emotions. International Journal of Computer Games Technology, v. 2019, p. 1-16, 2019.

BOSSENBROEK, R., WOLS, A., WEERDMEESTER, J., et al. Efficacy of a Virtual Reality Biofeedback Game (DEEP) to Reduce Anxiety and Disruptive Classroom Behavior: Single-Case Study. JMIR mental health, v. 7, n. 3, p. 1-25, 2020.

BRASIL. Ministério da Educação. Política nacional de educação especial na perspectiva da educação inclusiva. Brasília, DF: MEC. 2008.

BREUER, J.; BENTE, G. Why so serious? On the relation of serious games and learning. Journal for Computer Game Culture, v. 4, n. 1, p. 07-24, 2010.

BUZZI, M.C., BUZZI, M., PERRONE, E.; SENETTE, C. Personalized technology-enhanced training for people with cognitive impairment. Universal Access in the Information Society, v. 18, p. 891–907, 2019.

CANO, A. R., GARCÍA-TEJEDOR, Á. J., ALONSO-FERNÁNDEZ, C.; et al. Game Analytics Evidence-Based Evaluation of a Learning Game for Intellectual Disabled Users. IEEE Access, v. 7, p. 123820-123829, 2019. DOI:

CHEN, J., WANG, G., ZHANG, K., WANG, G.; LIU, L. A pilot study on evaluating children with autism spectrum disorder using computer games. Computers in Human Behavior, v. 90, p. 204-214, 2019. DOI:

COMPAÑ-ROSIQUE, P., MOLINA-CARMONA, R., GALLEGO-DURÁN, F. et al. A guide for making video games accessible to users with cerebral palsy. Univ Access Inf Soc, v. 18, p. 565–581, 2019. DOI:

DJAOUTI, D. et al. Origins of Serious Games. In: Serious Games and Edutainment Applications. Springer: London. p. 25 - 43, 2011.

FERREIRA, L. M. S., BANDINI, C. S. M.; BANDINI, H. H. M. (2021). Adaptação de um Programa de Ensino de Consciência Fonológica para Crianças com Paralisia Cerebral. Revista Brasileira de Educação Especial, v. 27, p. 35-52, 2021. DOI:

JOHNSTON, D., EGERMANN, H.; KEARNEY, G. SoundFields: A Virtual Reality Game Designed to Address Auditory Hypersensitivity in Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Applied Sciences. v. 10, n. 9, p. 1-17, 2020. DOI:

KANG, Y. S., CHANG, Y. J. Using a motion-controlled game to teach four elementary school children with intellectual disabilities to improve hand hygiene. J Appl Res Intellect Disabil. v. 32, n. 4, p. 942-951, 2019. DOI:

KAPP, K. M.; BLAIR, L.; MERCH, R. The Gamification of Learning and Instruction Fieldbook: Ideas into Practice. Pfeiffer & Company, 2013.

KHOWAJA, K.; SALIM, S. S. Serious Game for Children with Autism to Learn Vocabulary: An Experimental Evaluation. International Journal of Human-Computer Interaction, v. 35, n. 1, p. 1-26, 2019. DOI:

MICHAEL, D.; CHEN, S. Serious Games: Games That Educate, Thomson Course Technology: Boston. P. 263, 2005.

VALÉRIO NETO, L., FONTOURA JUNIOR, P. H., BORDINI, R. A., et al. Details on the Design and Evaluation Process of an Educational Game Considering Issues for Visually Impaired People Inclusion. Educational Technology & Society, v. 22, n. 3, p. 4-18, 2019.

VALÉRIO NETO, L. V., FONTOURA JUNIOR, P. H., BORDINI, R.A. et al. Design and implementation of an educational game considering issues for visually impaired people inclusion. Smart Learn. Environ. v. 7, n. 4, 2020. DOI:

NUNES, D. R. P.; SCHMIDT, C. Special education and autism: from evidence-based practices to school. Cadernos de Pesquisa, v. 49, n. 173, p. 84-103, 2019. DOI:

SCHMIDT, C. Transtorno do espectro autista: onde estamos e para onde vamos. Psicologia em Estudo, v. 22, n. 2, p. 221-230, 2017. DOI:

OLIVIER, L., STERKENBURG, P.; VAN RENSBURG, E. The effect of a serious game on empathy and prejudice of psychology students towards persons with disabilities. African journal of disability, v. 8, n. 328, p. 1-10, 2019. DOI:

PRENSKY, M. The Digital Game-Based Learning Revolution. McGraw-Hill: New York, p. 442, 2001.

WANG, Y.; HU, W. Analysis about Serious Game Innovation on Mobile Devices. In: 16th International Conference on Computer and Information Science, Wuhan, China, p. 24 - 26, 2017.