Issn 0046 1520 Print 1532 6985 Online Journal -Books Download

ISSN 0046 1520 Print 1532 6985 Online Journal

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Program in Educational Psychology The Graduate Center, City University of New York Charles K. Kinzer Department of Computing, Communication and Technology in Education Teachers College, Columbia University In this article we argue that to study or apply games as learning environments, multiple perspectives have to be taken into account. We ?rst de?ne game-based learning and gami?cation ...



EDUCATIONAL PSYCHOLOGIST 50 4 258 283 2015
Copyright Division 15 American Psychological Association
ISSN 0046 1520 print 1532 6985 online
DOI 10 1080 00461520 2015 1122533
Foundations of Game Based Learning
Jan L Plass
CREATE Lab
New York University
Bruce D Homer
Program in Educational Psychology
The Graduate Center City University of New York
Charles K Kinzer
Department of Computing Communication and Technology in Education
Teachers College Columbia University
In this article we argue that to study or apply games as learning environments multiple
perspectives have to be taken into account We first define game based learning and
gamification and then discuss theoretical models that describe learning with games arguing
that playfulness is orthogonal to learning theory We then review design elements of games
that facilitate learning by fostering learners cognitive behavioral affective and
sociocultural engagement with the subject matter Finally we discuss the basis of these
design elements in cognitive motivational affective and sociocultural foundations by
reviewing key theories from education and psychology that are the most pertinent to game
based learning and by describing empirical research on learning with games that has been or
should be conducted We conclude that a combination of cognitive motivational affective
and sociocultural perspectives is necessary for both game design and game research to fully
capture what games have to offer for learning
What are the psychological foundations of game based The use of play in an educational context and for pur
learning We argue in this article that games are a complex poses of learning and development is by no means a new
genre of learning environments that cannot be understood phenomenon However the growing acceptance of digital
by taking only one perspective of learning In fact as our games as mainstream entertainment has raised the question
review shows many of the concepts that are important in of how to take advantage of the promise of digital games
the context of games such as motivation have aspects for educational purposes Reports on youth s consumption
relating to different theoretical foundations cognitive of digital games are compelling with studies such as the
affective motivational and sociocultural We argue that Pew Internet American Life Project indicating 99 of
for games to achieve their potential for learning all these boys and 94 of girls playing digital games Lenhart
perspectives have to be taken into account with specific et al 2008 Equally compelling are reports on how much
emphases depending upon the intention and design of the time youth spend playing digital games which ranges
learning game from approximately 7 to 10 hr per week Lenhart et al
2008 with more recent estimates putting this number
even higher Homer Hayward Frye Plass 2012
Correspondence should be addressed to Jan L Plass CREATE Lab Although there are gender differences in the amount of
New York University 196 Mercer St Suite 800 New York NY 10012
E mail jan plass nyu edu
time boys and girls play digital games Homer et al
Color versions of one or more of the figures in the article can be found 2012 and in the types of games boys and girls prefer to
online at www tandfonline com hedp play Lenhart Smith Anderson Duggan Perrin 2015
FOUNDATIONS OF GAME BASED LEARNING 259
studies have not found significant gender differences in WHAT IS GAME BASED LEARNING
learning or motivational outcomes in educational games
e g Annetta Magnum Holmes Collazo Cheng Definitions of game based learning mostly emphasize that
2009 Papastergiou 2009 Given this level of engagement it is a type of game play with defined learning outcomes
that games generate for a broad range of individuals and Shaffer Halverson Squire Gee 2005 Usually it is
considering the kinds of individual and social activities assumed that the game is a digital game but this is not
they afford advocates have argued that games are an ideal always the case A corollary to this definition is that the
medium for learning Gee 2003 2007 Prensky 2003 design process of games for learning involves balancing the
2005 Squire 2011 need to cover the subject matter with the desire to prioritize
Meta analyses of the impact of games on learning have game play Plass Perlin Nordlinger 2010 This corol
resulted in conflicting findings depending on what criteria lary points to the distinction of game based learning and
for inclusion and exclusion of articles were used and which gamification What exactly is meant by gamification varies
outcome variables were considered These decisions were widely but one of its defining qualities is that it involves
influenced by the authors theoretical approach to the use of the use of game elements such as incentive systems to
digital games for learning Among these approaches two motivate players to engage in a task they otherwise would
are particularly prominent a cognitive perspective not find attractive Similarly there is an ongoing debate
Blumberg 2011 Fletcher Tobias 2005 Mayer 2005 among scholars as to the exact definition of a game and
Shute Ventura Ke 2014 Spence Feng 2009 and a especially what is not a game Salen Zimmerman 2004
sociocultural perspective De Freitas Rebolledo Mendez One definition defines a game as a system in which players
Liarokapis Magoulas Poulovassilis 2010 Shaffer engage in an artificial conflict defined by rules that results
2006 Squire 2008 2011 Steinkuehler Squire Barab in a quantifiable outcome Salen Zimmerman 2004 p
2012 Depending on which perspective is taken games are 80 Consider as an example the gamification of math
considered either environments that are motivating but homework which may involve giving learners points and
likely to require excess amounts of information to be proc stars for the completion of existing activities that they con
essed by the learner cognitive perspective or conversely sider boring Game based learning of the same math topic
approaches that provide the rich contextual information and on the other hand even though it may also include points
interactions needed for learning in the 21st century and stars would involve redesigning the homework activi
sociocultural perspective ties using artificial conflict and rules of play to make them
A discussion of games and learning and an assessment more interesting and engaging
of their impact is complicated by the fact that games as a Even though the debate around how games are defined
generic term is so broad as to be of little utility when it is cannot be resolved here this may not be a problem as
discussed without further qualification Games range across play the essential activity in games has long been
not only broad genres of field humanities sciences engi thought of as a critical element in human development
neering etc and genres of contents second language
learning science history etc but also genres of games
casual game first person shooter massively multiplayer PLAY AND COGNITIVE DEVELOPMENT
online game MMO role playing etc Of course each of
the preceding genres crosses and links with the others Psychologists have long acknowledged the importance of
A consequence of the fact that the concept of games cov play in cognitive development and learning Piaget 1962
ers all these genres is that one cannot assume that research for example described play as being integral to and evolv
results obtained by studying games from one genre can be ing with children s stages of cognitive development
applied readily to another genre For example badges intro According to Piaget play becomes more abstract symbolic
duced into an MMO may be useful to guide the learner to and social as children mature through different develop
perform specific learning related tasks but when integrated mental stages One way that play is seen as contributing to
in a casual game they may distract from learning children s cognitive development is by activating their
In this article we aim to provide a comprehensive the schemas in ways that allow children to transcend their
ory based approach to games and learning that incorporates immediate reality For example a child can pretend or act
multiple views of learning and of foundations of game as if an eraser is a car while fully knowing that it is not a
design To that end we first discuss the definitions of game car This type of play allows children to hold in mind multi
based learning and the theoretical models that can describe ple representations of the same object a skill required for
learning with games We then describe design elements of the development of symbolic thinking DeLoache 1987
games that facilitate learning Last we summarize how the one of the most significant developments of early child
design of these game elements is based on cognitive moti hood Being able to hold in mind multiple even conflicting
vational affective and sociocultural foundations representations of reality underlies key later developments
260 PLASS HOMER KINZER
such as the acquisition of a theory of mind Astington Motivation
Harris Olson 1990 and emergent literacy and numeracy
Homer Hayward 2008 This understanding of the role The motivational function of games is their most frequently
of play in children s cognitive development has informed cited characteristic The argument is that games for enter
our understanding of educational games see Hodent tainment have been shown to be able to motivate learners
2014 but there has also been great interest in understand to stay engaged over long periods through a series of game
ing how video games shape cognitive development and features that are of a motivational nature These features
learning include incentive structures such as stars points leader
In one of the first books on the psychology of video boards badges and trophies as well as game mechanics
games Loftus and Loftus 1983 focused on players moti and activities that learners enjoy or find interesting i e
vations exploring what makes video games fun Relying that create a high situational interest Hidi Renninger
largely on behaviorist theories Loftus and Loftus pointed 2006 Rotgans Schmidt 2011 From a game design per
out that in video games rewards or successes typically hap spective it is less desirable to use game features to
pen only occasionally which corresponds to an intermittent enhance otherwise uninteresting mechanics and more
reinforcement schedule the reinforcement schedule that desirable to make mechanics in themselves interesting but
produces the greatest response rate Loftus and Loftus also little if any empirical evidence exists for the relative impact
cited work illustrating that good games are neither too easy of each of these approaches on learning
which results in the games being boring for players who
then quit playing nor too difficult which frustrates players Player Engagement
who then quit playing Good games aim for the sweet
spot where players can succeed but only with some strug Related to motivation one of the most frequently cited rea
gle inducing what has been described as a state of flow sons to consider digital games for learning is that they allow
Csikszentmihalyi 1990 In the context of learning good for a wide range of ways to engage learners Which types of
games aim to be within a player s zone of proximal engagement are implemented depends on design decisions
development that reflect the specific learning goal learner characteristics
The notion of a zone of proximal development of and setting Because the concept of engagement is ill
course comes from Vygotsky 1978 who also character defined and underspecified we base our discussion of
ized play as being a leading factor in children s develop engagement on the INTERACT model of learner activity
ment and thought that a vital role of play is to create a zone Domagk Schwartz Plass 2010 which distinguishes
of proximal development for the child Vygotsky argued among cognitive engagement i e mental processing and
that genuine play which begins around age 3 is always a metacognition affective engagement i e emotion proc
symbolic and social activity Nicolopoulou 1993 In part essing and regulation and behavioral engagement i e
because of its social nature play particularly play with an gestures embodied actions and movement We add a
adult or more capable peer enables a child to succeed at fourth type sociocultural engagement i e social interac
things that are a bit beyond his or her current ability In tions embedded within a cultural context For example a
Vygotsky s words play allows the child to achieve beyond game can engage the learner behaviorally by using gestures
his average age above his daily behavior in play it is as as input or inviting players to perform specific physical
though he were a head taller p 103 We believe this actions as part of play Game characters engage the learner
statement made almost 40 years ago applies to well emotionally and social features such as collaborative play
designed games of all types including the digital games support sociocultural engagement The goal of all these
that are played by so many people today In the next sec types of engagement however is to foster cognitive
tions we consider additional reasons for the use of games engagement of the learner with the learning mechanic
for learning Games that do not achieve cognitive engagement are not
likely to be effective in helping the learner achieve their
learning goal All forms of play have the potential to result
in all four types of engagement affective cognitive behav
THE ARGUMENT FOR GAME BASED LEARNING ioral sociocultural However the actual type of engage
ment will differ by game and within a game as different
There are a number of arguments being advanced for why games features elicit different types of engagement in dif
games are effective learning environments Some of these ferent context and for different learners
arguments have little or no empirical support whereas
others are deeply grounded in existing theory and research Adaptivity
We summarize some of the most important arguments next
and provide a deeper discussion of the empirical founda Learner engagement is facilitated in part by the many ways
tions of these in a later section of this article of making a game adaptive customizable by the player or
FOUNDATIONS OF GAME BASED LEARNING 261
personalized Andersen 2012 Leutner 1993 Plass Chun combinations of them in the design of games for learn
Mayer Leutner 1998 Turkay Kinzer 2013 Adaptiv ing For example the game Angry Birds challenges the
ity is the capability of the game to engage each learner in a learner to fling birds at pigs that hide under different
way that reflects his or her specific situation This can be types of structures In its essence the game takes a
related to the learners current level of knowledge to cogni behaviorist approach by posing a low level task of max
tive abilities to the learners emotions or to a range of imizing the damage to the pigs However the player s
other variables The first requirement of adaptive design is response to this challenge involves the selection of a
therefore to measure the variable the game is supposed to specific type of bird from a set of birds with different
adapt for such as prior knowledge or self regulation skills destructive abilities and allows for some flexibility in
The next step is to provide an appropriate response to the the vector angle and force in which the birds are flung
learner This may involve a modification of the type and The game shows the trajectory of the bird and gives
complexity of the problems and guidance presented to the feedback on the damage caused in visual form in the
learner Azevedo Cromley Moos Greene Winters destruction of structures and bruising of pigs in audi
2011 Koedinger 2001 or the use of scaffolding guidance tory form as sound effects and in the form of points
and feedback in a way that responds to the player s in won for each destroyed object or pig The task itself
game actions Steinkuehler Duncan 2008 directing an object to a target location is tedious and
uninteresting but the game elements used to implement
Graceful Failure the task as game mechanic and the feedback provided
make this a very engaging game that has been played
Another argument for game based learning is that it allows by millions
for graceful failure Rather than describing it as an undesir Another type of game Crayon Physics or its cousin
able outcome failure is by design an expected and some Newton s Playground poses different challenges for play
times even necessary step in the learning process Kapur ers By choosing whether to attempt to solve a problem as
2008 Kapur Bielaczyc 2012 Kapur Kinzer 2009 elegant innovative minimalistic and so on players can set
Plass Perlin et al 2010 The lowered consequences of their own goals and respond accordingly by creating draw
failure in games encourage risk taking trying new things ings that guide a ball into a target The feedback in this
and exploration Hoffman Nadelson 2010 They also game is tied to the task itself the use of physics to move a
provide opportunities for self regulated learning during ball from its original location to a target location Few addi
play where the player executes strategies of goal setting tional game elements are needed to make the task more
monitoring of goal achievement and assessment of the interesting and the points awarded are secondary to the sat
effectiveness of the strategies used to achieve the intended isfaction of having found a solution to the problem
goal Barab Warren Ingram Goble 2009 Kim Park Finally MMOs such as Eve Online or World of
Baek 2009 The ability to fail gracefully is connected to Warcraft are player driven worlds with an almost infi
many of the previously discussed issues such as motiva nite range of possibilities of play Players control and
tion engagement and adaptivity How can these various customize characters and interact with the environment
arguments for game based learning be described in a more and with other players characters in ways that develop
systematic theory based way an in game culture and often economy MMOs allow
players to set and pursue their own challenges develop
different identities and play different roles These activ
A THEORY OF GAME BASED LEARNING ities involve team collaboration and competition com
munication creation systems thinking and problem
Few would dispute that games are learning environments solving and it has been argued that those activities can
with characteristics that differ to such an extent from those enhance players socioemotional skills or 21st century
of other genres that they should be classified as a genre of skills Denning Flores Flores 2011
their own Some advocates go even further and make the These three examples represent three very different
case that game based learning involves processes that differ models of learning from behaviorist to constructivist One
to such an extent from learning in other forms such as of the few characteristics they have in common is that play
classroom instruction that they should be described as a fulness serves as an enriching yet orthogonal dimension a
unique model or theory of learning Gee 2003 Prensky dimension that can be present no matter what model of
2003 learning a game is based on Trying to develop a model of
A review of existing games quickly confirms how game based learning would therefore require the construc
ever that the uniqueness of game based learning can tion of a general model of learning that incorporates each
hardly be defined at an epistemological level Game of the existing models into one meta theoretical model
designers use behaviorist elements cognitivist elements Such an attempt has been made Gentile Groves
and constructivist elements and often various Gentile 2014 the resulting model is not specific to games
262 PLASS HOMER KINZER
can be playful through game characters or a leaderboard
such as in Little Big Planet
Coming back to the observation that learning with and
from games is clearly a unique experience yet a compre
hensive model of game based learning appears to be not
feasible how else can this experience be described We
propose that a more promising method to capture the
uniqueness of game based or playful learning can be found
by focusing on how these learning environments are
designed By the time games were adopted at scale for
learning purposes game design had developed into a
refined art form Salen Zimmerman 2004 with pro
cesses that differ from the design of traditional learning
environments in a number of ways One of these differences
is that designers of game based learning have a unique con
cern for the quality of the learning experience which is
refined and tested with great effort and care Isbister
Schaffer 2008 This designed learning experience incor
porates engagement on an affective behavioral cognitive
and sociocultural level creating a Magic Circle of playful
learning Plass Perlin et al 2010 This learning experi
FIGURE 1 Model of game based learning
ence is often described as a flow experience Csikszentmi
halyi 1990 although we prefer to think of it as optimal
engagement that is engagement optimized to facilitate
but rather can be used to describe learning independent of learning Taking multiple types of engagement into consid
the genre of the learning environment used for its eration is rare for most other learning environments These
implementation different forms of engagement are facilitated through
Instead of a comprehensive theory of learning we design features that result in a playful experience as shown
may therefore consider a simple model that describes at the top of Figure 2 In this way games are a unique genre
the basic structure virtually all games appear to have to implement existing models of learning and playfulness
This structure consists of three key elements a chal adds a dimension to these existing models This creates a
lenge a response and feedback see Figure 1 A loop learning experience that can make games a preferable genre
is generated when the feedback constitutes a new chal for implementing these models than other more traditional
lenge or prompts the player to provide a different genres
response to the original challenge
The learning theory that informed the design of a spe Summary
cific game is reflected in the type of challenge the game
provides the type of responses it facilitates and the kind of As our discussion in this section shows a definition of
feedback it provides For example a behaviorist game game based learning and especially a distinction of games
would provide a challenge with a limited set of choices by versus nongame environments even when it seems intui
which the player can respond and the feedback received tively possible is very difficult to achieve on an abstract
would be corrective as a right wrong message In contrast generalizable level Similarly problematic is the attempt to
a game based on a constructivist approach may allow play formulate a general theory of game based learning as
ers to set their own challenges make available tools with games can be designed based on virtually any model of
which to construct a response and provide a system of peer learning Instead we have proposed a simplified model of
feedback game based learning and have argued that one of the distin
The model shows how game design features are at the guishing characteristics of games is the unique concern of
center of the learning experience permeating how chal game designers for the quality of the learning experience
lenge response and feedback are designed The playful and in part because of this concern the fact that digital
character of each of these three key elements transforms games are able to engage learners on an affective behav
the learning experience in different ways For example ioral cognitive and sociocultural level in ways few other
challenges can be inspiring by using a strong narrative such learning environments are able to We next describe the
as in Portal 2 Responses can be enjoyable through game design elements used in games for learning to elicit this
mechanics such as slinging birds in Angry Birds Feedback engagement
FOUNDATIONS OF GAME BASED LEARNING 263
FIGURE 2 Integrated design framework of game based and playful learning
ELEMENTS OF GAME DESIGN FOR LEARNING many cases they focus on both Plass Homer 2012 Plass
Homer et al 2013 An example of a game mechanic in the
Before we discuss the different approaches to learning from middle school geometry game Noobs v Leets G4LI 2013 is
games it may be useful to define some of the fundamental when the learner clicks on a missing angle clicks on a given
elements of game design Although there is much discussion angle and then selects the rule she wants to apply to solve for
regarding the definition of what is a game most agree on the the missing angle e g complementary angle rule The game
following building blocks of games game mechanics visual mechanic represents the essential behavior that is linked to learn
aesthetics narrative incentives musical score and because ing or assessment activity in a game It can be designed for single
we are discussing games for learning the learning objectives players or involve social features Mechanics are often used to
and related content and skills covered by the game describe genres of games such as platformers or first person
Game Mechanics
Visual Aesthetic Design
Game mechanics describe the essential game play the activity
or sets of activities repeated by the learner throughout the game The visual aesthetic design includes visual elements such as
These activities can primarily have a learning focus learning the overall look and feel of the game and the game charac
mechanics or an assessment focus assessment mechanics in ters but also the form of representation of key information
264 PLASS HOMER KINZER
in the game The visual design determines how tools and Musical Score
functions of the game mechanics are visualized how cues
are represented and how feedback is displayed which The musical score of a game provides background sounds
means it has a cognitive function and an aesthetic one For that are often used to direct the player s attention to specific
example in the game Light Lanes CREATE 2013b in important events or moments in the game signal the pres
which players must avoid obstacles to redirect a laser beam ence of danger or opportunity induce positive or negative
to a specific target obstacle blocks that cannot be pene emotions or acknowledge the success or failure of a spe
trated by a laser beam are represented in red whereas light cific task A related design feature is the sound of any voice
reflecting blocks are represented in green The visual aes used in the game for example the tone or gender of the
thetic design constitutes the information representation of voice In many cases the musical score is accompanied by
the multimedia learning aspects of the game It is also haptic information such as vibration of the game control
linked to the narrative of the game by expressing its ler For example the game Space Ranger Alien Quest uses
aesthetics the musical score to provide feedback whenever a player
successfully directs a food item to the right alien or when
the wrong food item is given to an alien
Narrative Design
The narrative of a game is the storyline that is advanced via Content and Skills
features such as cutscenes in game actions dialogues and
The final element of learning game design is the subject
voice overs Unlike most movies and books games allow
matter content and skills that the game is designed to teach
for nonlinear narratives that advance based on the choices
The content and skills that a game is supposed to cover will
made by the learner Narratives provide contextual infor
determine the learning mechanics to be used the visual
mation for learning connecting rules of play characters
design to be adopted the narrative design the incentive
tasks events and incentives They have a strong motiva
system design and the musical score Plass Homer
tional function by contributing to a game s stickiness that
2012 In other words the content of a learning game has
is the desire it generates for people to return to play For
profound impact on all major game elements and their
example in the game Space Ranger Alien Quest CREATE
2013a which was designed to enhance a player s execu
It may be useful to consider a heuristics of four functions
tive functions Sprung et al 2013 the narrative explains
of games that describe to what extent and with what learn
how different aliens like to eat different foods and why the
ing goal this content is covered Plass Perlin et al 2010
player needs to help the aliens and then later explains how
the rules have changed and that different food preferences
Preparation of future learning This type of game
are in play
does not have its own learning objectives but instead
provides students with shared experiences that can be
Incentive System used for later learning activities for example class
discussions
The incentive system of a game includes the many motiva Teach new knowledge and skills This type of game
tional elements that aim to encourage players to continue introduces new knowledge and skills for the learner to
their efforts and feedback that attempts to appropriately acquire as part of the game play
modify their behavior e g see Kinzer et al 2012 Incen Practice and reinforce existing knowledge and skills
tives can consist of scores points stars badges trophies These games provide opportunities to practice exist
power ups and many other rewards These rewards can be ing knowledge or physical and basic cognitive skills
either an intrinsic part of the game play such as a power up in order to automate them
that gives the player special abilities in the game or an Develop 21st century skills Provide opportunities to
extrinsic nature awarding stars or points that do not directly develop more complex socioemotional skills related
contribute to the game play but that may create a metagame to teamwork collaboration problem solving creativ
when players compete with one another via leaderboards ity communication and so on
For example the game FactorReactor G4LI 2010 awards
rings for each solved problem These rings are intrinsic It is difficult to describe learning goals for a genre as
rewards because they are essential to the game play they broad as games as this term captures many different sub
are needed to execute a step in solving the next problem genres of games from casual games and puzzle games to
The game also awards points which are a form of extrinsic role playing games RPGs real time strategy games and
rewards Many game designers favor the use of multiple first person shooters Each of these genres will result in dif
features as incentives in order to address the preferences of ferent choices of how the game elements are designed In
different players fact not all learning needs require the use of all of these
FOUNDATIONS OF GAME BASED LEARNING 265
game design elements In many cases for example an designed to engage the learner in a way that facilitates
incentive system and musical score might be missing and reaching the intended cognitive outcomes Designers also
the use of narrative might be minimal or absent have to consider the cognitive demand of processing the
What are the foundations of game based learning that meaning of the various game elements that is the cognitive
are expressed in game design elements that aim to generate load experienced by the learner during game play Kalyuga
different types of engagement The design framework we Plass 2009 In particular Mayer 2014 suggested that
propose Figure 2 describes what kinds of engagement designers of learning games should aim to reduce extrane
game based learning environments facilitate and lists the ous i e unnecessary processing manage essential i e
game design elements that create such engagement We necessary processing and foster generative processing
now turn to the theoretical foundations for these game i e investment of mental effort by the learner
design elements that make them suitable and potentially Research based on the cognitive approach is inconclu
effective for games for learning We discuss these cogni sive as to the effectiveness of games for learning Tobias
tive motivational affective and sociocultural foundations Fletcher 2007 2012 The preferred method of investiga
next tion is experimental lab studies often comparing games
with other media such as PowerPoint slide shows that pres
ent the same content as the game Adams Mayer
FOUNDATIONS OF GAME BASED LEARNING MacNamara Koenig Wainess 2012 In fact many
studies on cognitive aspects of learning with games investi
Can existing research inform the design of game based gate brief durations of game play in which interest motiva
learning Although there are multiple areas of psychology tion and emotion are not essential factors Mayer
that contribute to game design including theory and Johnson 2010 Mayer Dow Mayer 2003 Mayer Mau
research on cognition motivation affect and on sociocul tone Prothero 2002
tural issues the extent to which each of these areas can There are a number of ways that games can facilitate
inform the design of games for learning depends on a num cognitive processing of which we describe the situatedness
ber of factors including the content covered by the game of learning transfer of learning scaffolding and feedback
the learning objectives and related function of the game dynamic assessment information design interaction
and the game genre employed As a result many findings design and gestures and movement
obtained for specific subject matter areas game functions
and game genres do not necessarily generalize to other sub Situatedness
jects functions and genres However where possible we
describe more generalizable game design patterns that is One of the great potentials of games and playful learning is
general solutions to commonly occurring problems Alex that they provide opportunities for situated learning Lave
ander Ishikawa Silverstein 1977 that can guide the Wenger 1991 Wenger 1998 Through games learning
design of effective games for learning Game design pat can take place in a meaningful and relevant context by pro
terns are preferable to guidelines or design principles as viding information at the precise moment when it will be
they describe solutions on a relatively abstract level and the most useful to the learner for example by giving infor
need to be localized and customized in order to be applica mation needed by learners to solve a problem at the time
ble to a specific project they are trying to solve it A second related benefit of
games is that they can present information and problems in
ways that closely mirror real life which facilitates transfer
COGNITIVE FOUNDATIONS OF GAME BASED of learning Although the application of these benefits to
LEARNING games for learning seems logical intuitively and even
though they have been advanced by advocates such as Gee
When game based learning is viewed from a cognitive per 2007 and Prensky 2005 their cognitive impact in game
spective the goal of learners engagement with a game is based environments has not been sufficiently validated
the construction of mental models Mayer 2005 2014 empirically We later discuss their impact from a sociocul
One cognitive theory describes for example that learners tural perspective
first select what is presented in the game organize this
information as visual and verbal representations in working Transfer of Learning
memory and then integrate these representations with one
another and with prior knowledge Mayer 2014 From a One of the great challenges for education is teaching in
cognitive perspective designers and researchers consider ways that allow students to apply their knowledge outside
which game elements contribute to the cognitive processing of the school context Transfer is generally easier when the
of the learning content that is how the content should be novel context is similar to the context of learning but sev
represented and how learning mechanics should be eral factors have been identified as affecting transfer of
266 PLASS HOMER KINZER
knowledge Barnett Ceci 2002 Haskell 2000 Perkins learning of game play As players succeed in the tutorial
and Salomon 1989 proposed two main ways by which level the supports are removed thereby fading the scaf
knowledge can be transferred to novel situations a low folding Although this scaffolding process is relatively
road which depends on automaticity through repeated straightforward and successful for entertainment games
practice of a skill and a high road which depends on con success of scaffolding has been much more limited in
scious abstraction and application of knowledge Games games for learning in part because of the increased diffi
can facilitate both roads to transfer by giving repeated culty in doing the dynamic assessment required in games
opportunity to practice skills and apply knowledge low for learning
road and by providing different but related experiences
that facilitate the abstractions needed for knowledge to be Dynamic Assessment
generalized to novel situations high road Considering the
functions of games just outlined both the teaching of new Effective scaffolding requires accurate and ongoing assess
skills and the practice and reinforcement of existing knowl ment of learners knowledge and skills Assessment needs
edge and skills have the potential to facilitate transfer to be accurate in order to know which scaffolds will be the
most effective and it needs to be dynamic in order to know
Scaffolding and Relevant Feedback when to fade or change the scaffolds Similarly other forms
of adaptivity require dynamic assessment For example
As games and related digital media have become more when learning progressions in a game are adaptive to a
complex and more intentionally instructional there has learner s current knowledge the dynamic assessment of the
been an effort to capture the scaffolding that occurs natu success rate of solving the current task will determine
rally during play within the digital environment in order to which task the learner will be presented with next for
support learning The idea of scaffolding was first intro example by adjusting the difficulty level or deciding
duced by Wood Bruner and Ross 1976 to describe the whether to move on to the next topic A first step for
ways in which an adult or expert tutors someone who is less dynamic assessment is therefore to clearly identify the spe
competent to solve a problem or complete a task Scaffold cific factors to be assessed This will depend upon specific
ing takes place when an expert controls aspects of a task learning goals as well as other individual level variables
that are beyond the learner s capabilities thereby allowing that can affect learning outcomes Evidence Centered
the learner to complete a task that he or she would not be Design Mislevy Heartel 2006 provides a useful frame
able to do on their own Although Wood et al do not make work for thinking about in game assessments see Plass
the link between scaffolding and Vygotsky s zone of proxi Homer et al 2013 for more detail Key information can
mal development directly it is evident that for effective be obtained from both process and product data from both
scaffolding to take place the task or problem being solved the activities of the learner and from anything created by
must fall within the learner s zone of proximal development the learner within the game Rupp Gushta Mislevy
Bruner 1985 Pea 2004 Shaffer 2010
In more recent times the term scaffolding has come to Games for learning are often designed intentionally in
be used so broadly in education that is in danger of losing ways that require players to engage in specific activities
its meaning Pea 2004 argued that there are several essen that will provide information about the learner s knowledge
tial components of true scaffolding including being dynam or skills Plass Homer et al 2013 discussed this in terms
ically adaptive which requires an ongoing evaluation of the of the assessment mechanics of the game Accurate in
learner and fading as learners acquire skills and knowl game assessments not only provide the resources for effec
edge This means that there are two essential components tively adapting games to support learners but also may
to true scaffolding an ongoing dynamic evaluation of the eliminate the need for external evaluation of learning out
learner s acquisition of the skills to be learned and a pro comes Shute Ventura Bauer Zapata Rivera 2009
gressive fading of supports as the learner progresses Pea
pointed out that many of the scaffolds in educational Information Design Representation of Information
technology are actually supports that cannot be faded or
removed resulting in distributed cognition rather than true Another strength of games is their highly visual nature
scaffolding Most games represent key information in compelling visual
Current entertainment games are very successful in scaf form The design of this visual information for purposes of
folding new players as they learn how to play the game learning can be based on research on multimedia learning
Often games will start with a tutorial level in which play and its principles Mayer 2014 as well as on principles
ers actions and subsequent success or failure are related to cognitive load theory Plass Moreno Br unken
closely monitored Appropriate feedback and support is 2010 This results in a tension between the desire to reduce
given in areas of game play where the player is having trou cognitive load and the desire to enhance the visual appeal
ble thereby providing dynamic feedback to scaffold of the information which is elaborated in the section on
FOUNDATIONS OF GAME BASED LEARNING 267
affective design factors next The design of these represen as more difficult than the observers deHaan Reed
tations should reflect its function in the learning process to Kuwada 2010
support the selecting organizing or integration of informa Other research has compared the impact of different
tion Carney Levin 2002 Plass Hamilton Wallen learning mechanics For example in the Noobs v Leets
2004 Visual design should also consider the importance geometry game two different mechanics were used to solve
of semiotics that is the impact that the choice of signs for for missing angles In one mechanic players would specify
the learning content either via iconic or symbolic represen the numeric answer to the problem such as indicating that
tation Here studies have shown that iconic representations the missing angle was 55 An alternative mechanic asked
for example icons such as burners to represent heat are learners to indicate which rule they would apply to solve
particularly helpful for learners with low prior knowledge the problem for example the complementary angles rule
and for learners at younger developmental stages Homer Plass et al 2012 Results showed higher learning out
Plass 2010 Lee Plass Homer 2006 comes for the rule mechanic and a related study showed
Typical of games is that information is shown in multi higher engagement enjoyment and situational interest in
ple representations that learners need to integrate Research the game designed with the rule mechanic Kinzer et al
suggests that learning can be facilitated when information 2013 Similarly for the factoring game Factor Reactor
is available in more than one format Moreno Dur an one mechanic allowed for individual play one for collabo
2004 Paivio 1986 Schnotz 2005 though this depends on rative play and one for competitive play Plass O Keefe
the function of the multiple representations Ainsworth et al 2013 Results for this skills game showed higher
Van Labeke 2004 The integration of multiple representa learning outcomes for the competitive mechanics and other
tions is difficult for many learners van Someren Reimann research has shown that collaborative mechanics can have
Boshuizen de Jong 1998 especially when they have positive affective outcomes such as math attitudes Ke
low prior knowledge Seufert Br unken 2004 but can be Grabowski 2007
facilitated by the visual design of the learning materials in
ways that guides learners visual attention to conceptual Gestures and Movement
links between representations O Keefe Letourneau
Homer Schwartz Plass 2014 Embodied cognition using digital technologies has been
studied for some time Gee 2008 Goldman Black
Maxwell Plass Keitges 2012 see also Wilson 2002
Interaction Design Learning Mechanics and involves motoric engagement and focuses on gestural
congruity that is the mapping of a gesture or movement to
The design of the learning interactions within a game key features of the content to be learned The impact of
which are referred to as learning mechanics Plass embodiment on learning has been considered as a percep
Homer 2012 is the process of mapping learning objec tual effect Black 2010 a cognitive effect Gibbs 2006
tives onto instructional strategies that are based on appro or a combination of the two Kwah Milne Tsai Goldman
priate learning theories Homer Plass 2014 This Plass 2014
mapping ideally uses systematic processes such as Evi Games and other virtual environments are especially
dence Based Design Mislevy Haertel 2006 to ensure suited to foster this kind of learning because most gaming
that the resulting core mechanics of a game are suitable for platforms now allow for gesture input and haptic responses
its intended learning goals However a recent meta analy Chan Black 2006 Glenberg Goldberg Zhu 2009
sis suggests that few designers have based their game For example in a Kinect based literacy game for beginning
designs on learning theories Kinzer Hwang Chantes readers in game activities using gestures and movements
Choi Hsu in press Wu Hsiao Wu Lin Huang enhanced several key literacy outcomes compared to a
2012 A similar process can be used for the design of group without these activities Homer et al 2014 In addi
assessment mechanics which aim to provide conditions for tion to their cognitive impact research has also been inves
learners during game play in ways that evaluate their per tigating the emotional impact of gestures and movement
formance to determine their mastery of the content Isbister Karlesky Frye 2012
Research on learning mechanics has shown that the
mechanics need to be aligned with the learning goals to be Summary
effective A study with Japanese English language learners
showed for example that players of a game in which the A cognitive approach to game based learning is primarily
mechanic was mismatched with the learning goal per concerned with optimizing cognitive processing in the con
formed much worse on immediate and delayed measures of struction of mental models and with the cognitive demand
vocabulary learning than paired observers of the game of processing the meaning of the various game elements
play An indication for the cause of the lower learning out that is the cognitive load experienced by the learner during
come of players was that they reported perceiving the game game play We described a number of areas in which games
268 PLASS HOMER KINZER
can support this processing and described the empirical Initial explanations of the role of motivation in learning
support that exists for the impact of these mechanisms tended to come from a behaviorist tradition with an empha
Many of the findings from research on games for learn sis on the drives needs and behaviors of learners Graham
ing taking a cognitive perspective are specific to the con Weiner 1996 Similarly early attempts at explaining
tent function and genre of the game under investigation motivation in video games also utilized behaviorist con
However some findings can be generalized more broadly structs such as mechanisms of reinforcement to explain
in the form of cognitive design patterns for games for learn motivation and engagement in games e g Loftus Lof
ing Among these findings is that game mechanics should tus 1983 More recent theories take a broader perspective
be aligned with the learning goals of the game that is turn on what motivates students Eccles Wigfield and Schiefele
them into learning mechanics In other words the learning 1998 argued that contemporary theories of achievement
goal should be in line with the core tasks learners execute motivation can be framed around three questions that stu
in the game Other design patterns describe that when dents ask themselves when faced with a learning task Can
games use multiple representations for important informa I do this Do I want to do this and why and What do I
tion scaffolds should be made available that support their need to do in order to succeed Current motivational theo
integration and that iconic representations of key informa ries including expectancy value theory Wigfield
tion support learners who are younger and learners with Ecceles 2000b self determination theory Ryan Deci
low prior knowledge 2000b self efficacy theory Schunk 1991 attribution the
Another design pattern from a cognitive perspective is ory Weiner 2012 achievement goal orientation theory
that game elements that are not directly related to the cogni Ames Archer 1988 Dweck Leggett 1988 Elliot
tive processing of information and that require nonessential 2005 and interest theory Schiefele 1991 focus on dif
processing and therefore hinder learning should be reduced ferent components of these questions with different empha
or eliminated This often includes elements that foster emo ses on how various factors shape motivation
tional motivational and sociocultural aspects of learning Video games are in many ways well suited to address the
which are viewed as helpful only if they help optimize cog three questions that frame student motivation Zusho et al
nitive processing However we next discuss how each of 2014 Games are designed to ensure players are able to
these areas can have benefits that go beyond cognitive achieve providing an affirmative answer to first question
processing Can I do this and to ensure that players know what to do in
the game providing an answer to the third question What
do I need to do in order to succeed One way that this is
MOTIVATIONAL FOUNDATION OF GAME BASED done is by designing games to allow for graceful failure
LEARNING described earlier in which failure to achieve a goal is an
experience that allows players to learn from their mistakes
When game based learning is viewed from a motivational and then enabling them to try again Second many games
perspective we emphasize the ability of games to engage have training modes or introductory levels that introduce the
and motivate players by providing experiences that they game s features and functionality and allow players to prac
enjoy and want to continue Gee 2003 Ryan Rigby tice them A third way that games help players succeed is by
Przbylski 2006 Zusho Anthony Hashimoto Robertson being adaptive If a player is struggling most games will
2014 It is assumed that when playing an educational decrease difficulty and or provide scaffolds to help out
game players interactions with the game will motivate Finally many games have online communities that provide
them and will foster cognitive processing of the game con help and support for players described in more detail next
tent thereby improving learning Delacruz 2012 although It is the second motivational question Do I want to do
some researchers have suggested that the high level of this and why that is more difficult to address Theoreti
engagement found with entertainment games is unlikely to cal approaches to understanding why students would want
transfer to educational contexts Hoffman Nadelson to learn something tend to focus on the intrinsic motivation
2010 Nonetheless there have been several efforts to iden of learners their specific values and interests and their
tify the specific elements that contribute to engagement and achievement related goals Wigfield Eccles Schiefele
motivation in games such as incentive systems visual aes Roeser Davis Kean 2006 Zusho et al 2014 We
thetics game mechanics narrative fantasy and musical briefly review research on motivation that addresses each
score e g Gee 2003 Loftus Loftus 1983 Malone of these issues next and suggest some ways in which this
1981 Squire 2011 and to consider their use within educa research has or can be applied to educational games
tional games However in spite of the great interest in this
area there have been few efforts to systematically apply Intrinsic Motivation
motivational theories to understanding learning in games
even though the theoretical and empirical foundation of Most theories make a distinction between intrinsic motiva
motivation in education is extensive tion in which students are motivated to do an activity for
FOUNDATIONS OF GAME BASED LEARNING 269
its own sake and extrinsic motivation in which students activity resulting in learners directing of their attention to
are motivated to do an activity for instrumental or other rea the task Hidi 1990 Hidi Renninger 2006 Mitchell
sons such as receiving a reward Eccles et al 1998 1993 Rotgans Schmidt 2011 Schraw Flowerday
Contemporary theories of motivation such as self determi Lehman 2001 Over time learners situational interest can
nation theory argue that motivation cannot be viewed as a lead to the development of individual interest that is
dichotomy of intrinsic and extrinsic factors but that it oper increase their intrinsic desire and tendency to engage in a
ates in a continuum to satisfy innate psychological needs particular subject matter or activity Hidi Renninger
for competence autonomy and relatedness Ryan Deci 2006 With well designed games for learning there is
2000a From the perspective of the design of games for often the expectation that the situational interest they gener
learning there is an added layer of complexity in that if the ate in learners will eventually develop into individual inter
learning and game mechanics are not tightly linked stu est in the educational content
dents may be intrinsically motivated to play the game but A number of game design elements such as game
not necessarily to learn which can lead to gaming the sys mechanics mode of play and the use of badges can affect
tem in which students find ways to complete the game the situational interest experienced by the learner For
without necessarily learning the educational content Moti example a study compared two versions of a middle school
vation elements therefore can be considered to be intrinsic geometry puzzle game Noobs v Leets previously
or extrinsic to the game as well as to the learning content discussed to examine the effects of game mechanic on
depending on how they are designed and how they are learners motivation Researchers manipulated the game
perceived mechanic so that in one version players solved geometry
Core elements of game design including challenge problems by computing a missing angle and in the other
curiosity and fantasy are thought to be intrinsically moti version players solved the problem by selecting the appro
vating for players Dondlinger 2007 Challenge for exam priate solution rule Students in the numeric condition
ple can be very motivating and games will often level up reported greater situational interest compared to students in
increasing in difficulty if the player is succeeding too eas the rule condition suggesting that the selection of the game
ily thereby providing an optimal challenge to players mechanic has an impact on learners motivation Plass
which is intrinsically motivating Malone 1981 In a study et al 2012 Finally Miller et al 2011 presented second
on a game teaching middle school youth how to program it ary school students with an online forensic science game
was found that making the learning task within the game The authors found that after playing through one of three
challenging yet personally meaningful and attainable to the possible cases students not only showed significant gains
learner elicited feelings of self efficacy and control of one s in science knowledge but also reported greater individual
own success Plass Goldman Flanagan Perlin 2009 interest with a significant increase in the students interest
An optimal level of challenge is also key in inducing a in pursuing a career in science
state of flow Csikszentmihalyi 1990 which prompts
some advocates to argue that well designed educational Achievement Related Goals
games result in effortless learning Brom et al 2014 Pav
las Heyne Bedwell Lazzara Salas 2010 A more pre Researchers who study achievement goals consider
cise way to state this claim may be that players may students goals when engaging in learning activities In gen
perceive of their effort as low when in fact learners playing eral two broad goal orientations have been identified mas
a game posing an optimal level of challenge will engage in tery goal orientation in which students focus on learning
cognitive processing which implies the investment of men new skills mastering material and learning new things
tal effort Mayer 2014 and performance orientation in which students focus on
maximizing favorable evaluations of their competence
Values and Interests Ames Archer 1988 Dweck Leggett 1988 Elliot
2005 In general students with mastery goal orientations
Several motivational theories focus on the values and inter tend to have more adaptive patterns of motivation and
ests of learners For example expectancy value theories learning Midgley Kaplan Middleton 2001
e g Eccles et al 1998 identify different motivational Despite the large body of literature on goal orientation
components that can provide value to a learning task and only a few empirical studies have looked at the role of
focus on the specific outcomes that learners expect and achievement goals in educational games For example
what value they place on those outcomes Similarly Plass et al 2014 examined different versions of a math
researchers studying interest argue that students are more game on factoring that either involved individual play
likely to engage in activities that they find personally inter competitive play between two players or collaborative
esting and relevant A distinction is often made between sit play of two players Results indicated that in comparison to
uational and individual interest Schiefele 1991 individual play competitive and collaborative play resulted
Situational interest is an immediate affective response to an in the strongest mastery goal orientation of the students
270 PLASS HOMER KINZER
Another study Biles Plass in press Plass Biles including educational games As previously discussed
Homer 2016 compared three version the game Noobs vs well designed games are built in ways to ensure that players
Leets in which students were assigned to play a version know what to do and feel confident that they can succeed
with performance badges mastery badges or no badges In which includes failing gracefully and trying again Con
the two badges conditions in game badges were presented siderations of why individuals would want to play a learn
to students after completing a level Whereas the mastery ing game mean taking into account many factors including
badges were designed to encourage learners based on their intrinsic and extrinsic motivation of the learners specific
own ability e g You have mastered the triangle rule goals of the learners and learners situational and individ
performance badges were designed to encourage learners ual interest We know that even within a single class of stu
by making comparison to their peers e g You figured out dents who are playing the same game students will
the straight angle rule faster than most other players approach the educational game with different goals and
Although students in the performance badges condition had motivations and that different approaches may be needed to
significantly better learning outcomes that students in the motivate these different learners Adding to this complex
mastery badges condition this effect was mitigated by a ity the design elements used to make the game motivating
significant interaction between badges and situational inter will contribute to learning only if the learning goals are
est Learners with higher situational interest performed bet aligned with the game mechanic This is an example of a
ter with mastery badges learners with low situation interest design challenge for games that has been addressed by
did worse with mastery badges Overall these results indi other approaches as well Taking a cognitive perspective a
cate a need for considering students achievement orienta misalignment of goals and mechanics results in the need to
tion and interest when designing educational games but process nonessential information whereas from a motiva
more research is needed in this area tional perspective it means the motivating elements are
extrinsic to the learning goal rather than intrinsic Con
Summary structs related to motivation often also include affective
and sociocultural components which are described in the
A motivational approach to game based learning empha following sections
sizes that games are able to engage and motivate players by
providing experiences that they enjoy and want to continue
A focus on motivation takes into account learners reasons
for wanting to play a game e g their drives interests AFFECTIVE FOUNDATION OF GAME BASED
goals etc and investigates the ways in which games can LEARNING
be designed to enhance learners motivation Several key
concepts from motivational theories are relevant to the An affective perspective of game based learning focuses
design of educational games including intrinsic versus players experienced emotions attitudes and beliefs and
extrinsic motivation situational versus individual interest considers how the design of the game environment impacts
and mastery versus performance goal orientations learners affective state via affective engagement It also
Although theories of motivation can help inform the design considers how affect is related to and impacts cognitive
of game features that enhance learners motivation the motivational social and cultural aspects of learning This
establishment of design patterns for motivation that relate consideration of affective aspects of the learning process is
to all games for all learners may not yet be possible Even one of the ways in which game designers carefully design
though we know motivational factors that influence learn the learning experience and is often not part of the consider
ing the learning objectives of a game the target population ation of the design of other learning environments
of players i e their age gender educational level etc Models and theories such as the differential emotions
and even the game s genre can interact to such an extent theory Izard 2007 the control value theory of achieve
that much of the research must be considered to apply to a ment emotions Pekrun 2000 and the integrated cognitive
specific population of learners with a specific game The affective model of learning with multimedia Plass
extent to which design principles can generalize across Kaplan 2015 highlight the inseparable relation and
games may be limited to games with similar learning goals mutual influence of cognition and emotion during learning
game mechanics and learners Theories of affect describe how learners interacting with an
Nonetheless the research discussed in this section does environment experience core affect that they may or may
suggest some general principles regarding motivation that not attribute to a source Russell 2003 Learners continued
are relevant to the design of games for learning For exam experience of affect either as attributed affect or unattrib
ple the three questions that Eccles et al 1998 suggested uted as mood influences their cognitive processing and is
organize student motivation i e Can I do this Do I in turn influenced by it Izard 2009 The result of this
want to do this and why and What do I need to do in processing is an emotion schema the dynamic interaction
order to succeed are relevant to any learning situation of emotion and cognition Izard 2009 p 265
FOUNDATIONS OF GAME BASED LEARNING 271
representing processes involved in the dynamic interplay learning outcomes Initial research in this area investi
of emotion appraisals and higher order cognition p gated how shapes and colors can be used to induce posi
261 tive emotions in learners Results showed that round
One way to incorporate affect in games is by taking shapes and warm colors induced positive emotions and
advantage of the ability of specific game elements such as that these positive emotions facilitate learning and
the aesthetic design game mechanics narrative or musical enhance comprehension and transfer test outcomes Um
score to induce emotions in players Here the game is et al 2012 When decomposing this effect it was
designed with the goal of impacting learners experience of found that both warm colors and round shapes were
emotions such as fear anxiety or happiness Another less individually able to improve comprehension Round
frequently used approach is when games try to assess shapes were also independently able to improve transfer
learners emotions and respond to them This is typically but color alone did not Plass Heidig Hayward Homer
used to address boredom and frustration Craig Graesser Um 2014 Follow up research has been investigating
Sullins Gholson 2004 D Mello Graesser 2014 how the use of different shapes and colors for game
When taking an affective perspective on game based characters can impact emotions in games for learning
learning emotional aspects of play and their impact on Szczuka Biles Plass Kr amer 2013
learner engagement are considered whether they are facili Research on game mechanics another method to impact
tating or hindering learning This means that the goal of the learners affect has shown that different implementations
design of a playful learning environment is to optimize of these mechanics can result in experience of boredom
engagement and stickiness of the game often at the frustration or joy in players Tijs Brokken IJsselsteijn
expense of the cognitive load that the game induces In 2009 though these findings have not yet been related to
fact an argument advanced from this perspective is that learning outcomes Other research has shown that certain
playful learning may reengage some learners who have dis mechanics can generate high situational interest and
engaged from academic learning altogether and who cannot related positive emotions that can lead to improved learn
be engaged with other methods Griffiths 2002 Squire ing outcomes e g Isbister Schwekendiek Frye 2011
2008 In contrast however some researchers have cau Plass et al 2012 Plass O Keefe et al 2013 Game
tioned that the emotion regulation demands of some games mechanics can also impact emotions through the inclusion
may overwhelm learners for example by requiring a high of affective tutors that diagnose players emotions and
level of empathy which may hinder learning Huang respond to them which has been shown to positively
Tettegah 2010 However there is evidence that emotion impact learning Baker D Mello Rodrigo Graesser 2010
can positively impact learning which has emerged from D Mello Graesser 2014 Although these studies investi
research on emotional design gated the relative impact of different mechanics on affect
they do not allow for the generalization of findings to other
Emotional Design mechanics
A number of other design elements have been linked
Emotional design refers to the use of design features to to players affect For example research on the effects
induce emotions that are conducive to learning Plass of the musical score in games on players emotions
Kaplan 2015 Virtually all elements of game design can showed that music impacts affect in a highly complex
be used to induce emotions and empirical evidence sug and varied way Lipscomb Zehnder 2004 Yamada
gests that positive emotions can broaden the scope of cogni Fujisawa Komori 2001 Body movements and ges
tive resources Fredrickson Branigan 2005 Isen 2002 tures in video games have been found to impact players
and enhance learning outcomes Plass et al 2014 Um affect but also in complex patterns that require further
et al 2012 There is also empirical evidence showing that research Bianchi Berthouze Kim Patel 2007 The
confusion can lead to enhanced learning Craig et al 2004 inclusion of a narrative in a video game lead to
D Mello Graesser 2014 Graesser D Mello Strain increased positive arousal compared to a game without
2014 and that empathetic agents responding to the player s narrative Schneider Lang Shin Bradley 2004
emotional state impact learning Cooper Brna Martins Game characters with which players identify lead to
2000 D Mello Olney Williams Hays 2012 Lester positive emotions during play Hefner Klimmt
Towns Fitzgerald 1998 Vorderer 2007 Some studies showed that individual
Research on emotional design has focused so far on game events impact players emotions For example
two methods of inducing emotion through the represen events that were positive and rewarding e g finding an
tation of information and through game mechanics item of value elicited positive affect as did some nega
Plass Kaplan 2015 Representation of information tive game events e g falling off the edge of the plat
such as the visual design of learning materials impacts form Ravaja Saari Salminen Laarni Kallinen
learners emotional state and in turn can enhance 2006 However none of these studies were conducted


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