The 27-month project, which focuses on 10 to 14-year-olds, is due to run until September next year and is being overseen by Heriot-Watt university in Edinburgh. It has received nearly pound;210,000 funding from the UK's Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.
The researchers hope to develop a game-making programme for schools called Adventure Author, which will be partly based on the fantasy game Neverwinter Nights 2.
The software will allow pupils to create 3D environments, develop characters, write dialogue, then test out their games.
Dr Judy Robertson, who is leading the project, said: "Because they see games as play not work, many children are much more receptive to the idea of designing computer games than to conventional schoolwork.
"The value of teaching through play is increasingly being recognised - we're simply extending the concept to see if learning can be improved not just by playing computer games, but also by creating them in the first place."