The Significance of Drama in Game-Based Learning

Embracing Drama to enhance learning within the corporate world

Watching tv in my teens, I often wondered how well actors approached their work. Throughout my childhood, I was amazed by the variety of emotions these actors displayed. I often dreamt about this, imagining myself on stage, sometimes behind the scenes and even on television. My perception of this world was limited to what I could see i.e. actors themselves, the acting and the limelight. My knowledge was superficial. I knew very little but the effect it had on me was spellbinding.

As the years went by, I managed to slowly close the gap between that perception and reality as I began to learn about the many facets of Drama. While there is still a lot more to learn, it is relatively clearer to me that the person behind the curtain has a far greater experience than the viewer.

The Drama of Life, however, is much more than the general perception it carries. It is during my training as an actor that I realised the therapeutic effect drama can have on people, especially children.  It had a huge effect on me.

Thus, Drama helps in releasing mental, physical and emotional tension and provides a healthy outlet for the expression of emotion.

I have come to realise the bigger role Drama can play in people’s lives, especially the ones who practise it religiously. If we are to believe that the Mind-Body play a significant role in healing, then it can be safely assumed that Drama plays a key role in Natural Healing. However, before we can understand the role Drama plays in Natural Healing, we must first understand what Drama is.

What is Drama?

The word ‘Drama’ is derived from the Greek word ‘dran’- ‘to do’ which means the process of doing or the deed itself. Drama is an art form that explores human conflict and tension. One of the most important characteristics of the drama process is to give participants the opportunity to have new experiences, to be at peace with themselves and with others, and to be tolerant towards others since every member of the group has the opportunity to participate in the process.

Research reveals the positive impact of Drama on a person’s physical, emotional, social and cognitive development. Thus, Drama helps in releasing mental, physical and emotional tension and provides a healthy outlet for the expression of emotion.

The Significance of Drama in Game-Based Learning

[Image source – EVΔLVE VR game workshop in Singapore 2016]

Combining Drama with game-based learning

Games combine analytical thinking with emotional expression providing a dynamic model for individual and group work. Games can help move a group gently into action and break group inhibitions down, thus allowing individuals to trust and feel comfortable with others.

Drama also provides a safe way to provide feedback to a participant in a non-threatening manner especially within an immersive learning environment.

The game structure combined with drama therapy allows a person to:

  • develop interaction and a sense of group play;
  • create trust and bond within a group;
  • provide a safe place to experiment, experience spontaneity, encourage emotional growth, establish more comfortable feelings, safely express thoughts and feelings, and
  • develop problem-solving skills, learn experientially, focus attention, provide a structure for therapy goals to be met and gain insight.

Drama’s impact on the inner being

Drama also provides a safe way to provide feedback to a participant in a non-threatening manner especially within an immersive learning environment.

In my experience, one of Drama’s greatest impacts is expression. Drama enhances verbal and non-verbal expression. I am not referring to the obvious impacts like voice projection, diction and articulation. I am referring to the impact it has on the inner being, the ability to understand who we are and what we want in life. The instructional method provided within Drama is usually through games, exercises and techniques that are experiential and fun. This helps in creating an environment that is safe and controlled.

Within the education sector, Drama can help children who struggle especially within the traditional schooling system. Imagine the confidence and strong foundation of a child who grows up to think and speak freely without being judged, one who is able to move freely disregarding boundaries and able to act freely and without inhibition. It is through acting that students, who have difficulty with reading and writing and who struggle academically, often shine and demonstrate their knowledge and creativity in Drama. They gain much-needed self-esteem and improve literacy skills by playing Drama games.

Drama’s benefits within the corporate sector

Drama, as a multi-sensory mode of learning, helps to enhance:

  • communication skills;
  • inter-personal skills;
  • team bonding;
  • collaboration;
  • creative thinking skills;
  • problem-solving skills;
  • self-confidence;
  • focus and self-discipline; and
  • fun at work.

The Significance of Drama in Game-Based Learning

While Drama is in itself therapeutic, there is a specialised technique involved in facilitating personal growth and mental health.  As has been described by the Drama Therapy Institute in Los Angeles, USA, “Drama therapy is the skilled and deliberate use of drama and theatre to achieve therapeutic goals. Drama therapy engages the imagination and involves participants intellectually, emotionally and physically; it provides participants with a safe yet stimulating environment in which they can explore personal and family stories, set goals, uncover and express feelings, resolve problematic patterns, and (when appropriate), achieve catharsis. Its processes and techniques may include improvisation, theatre games, storytelling and enactment.”

In immersive learning, drama-based techniques are used to help create a profound and deeper impact for the participant in a variety of ways that make the experience more enriching and effective.


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Headline and other images courtesy Memcorp International Business
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