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AbstractInteractive immersive entertainment, or video games, have emerged as a major entertainment medium and enculturation force for today’s youth. Yet, how games and gaming cultures operate is still not well understood. As international research and development initiatives attempting to harness the pedagogical potential of games proliferate, educational researchers might benefit by developing more grounded notions of how games work. This paper argues for examining games as ideological words, worlds that are constructed by particular viewpoints to express particular ideas. It argues that understandings are developed through cycles of interaction with the gameworld which are designed to elicit players ’ identities which are enacted within game cultures. As such, design-based research initiatives examining game-based learning need to take account of both moment-to-moment interactions and broader cultural contexts. Examples from curriculum developed for Civilization III and Supercharged! show that games can be used to communicate powerful ideas, making new ways of thinking available to students. As games studies matures as a field Opportunities exist for fruitful dialogue between games researchers and educators, particularly around issues of learning, youth culture, design, and digital literacies.