"Games based learning" is absolutely needed in schools today. However, learning based games are not.
Society has learned via games as far back as anyone has been able to track. The animal kingdom still does. We should, at the very least, use the principals behind games in our classrooms regularly. Concepts like exploration, choice and progression are required in games but often ignored in the classroom. That is just silly.
We do not need games *in* the classroom until games come along that actually fit the principals of good games AND good content. So far we seem to get one or the other but never both. Games *behind* the classroom is something we should definitely push for.
I partially agree with your statement, 'games that actually fit the principals of good games AND good content'. I have just returned from the 3rd European conference on game based learning and the 'what' of making a engaging game is not being addressed overtly. But in my opinion the principals of good games cannot be categorized and replicated i.e. what makes a good game..
A successful commercial game is a matter of creativity, inspiration and luck. If the games industry knew the answer to the 'What' of a good game they would pay every dollar to know it. Here is an example of a completely unlikely 'Good' game. This was the 1st of a series that is now up to the 3rd installment. http://www.freegamesnews.com/en/games/2009/ColourMyHeart.php
What I do want is members take on the 'Need' for games, what learning paradigms are not being addressed.
A successful commercial game is a matter of creativity, inspiration and luck. >>
Successful and good are two very different things. We do know, at least generally, what makes good games. In the same sense we know, generally, what makes good movies, good books, good food, etc. Some very artistic interpretations will break out of the accepted "Good" ideas but that doesn't mean we don't have them. We know good games have choice, exploration, variety, etc because we know how the human brain works.
So, to your question, that's the part of learning that isn't being addressed. Our brain's get bored as soon as they have found a pattern. It can only repeat that pattern so many times before it loses interest and focus. Yet, in our schools our students are often following the same learning patterns for 12 years if not more.
I am sure you are already aware of James Paul Gee and his work. He talks about games as a form of literacy and has written several articles discussing "multiple literacies" including the value of games within the classroom. From my work with K-12 struggling readers/writers (Also known as those struggling with "school literacy") I have found that many of them are very motivated and highly skilled at various video games. As an example, one student I tutored was in 5th grade and was reading at approximately a 1st grade level. He could not comprehend much related to science or social studies from the school's "curriculum" and yet he knew extremely deep details about all of the characters and scenarios in the video games he played. I was astounded at the great detail with which he could discuss each scence (from memory), the roles, the characters, and so forth. We ended up working on scripts, brochures, and reading materials for his games and he became highly invoved in "school literacies" via this tutoring interaction. So for some (not all) kids, these video games can be a bridge into traditional school literacies.