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2024 | Book

Games and Learning Alliance

12th International Conference, GALA 2023, Dublin, Ireland, November 29 – December 1, 2023, Proceedings

Editors: Pierpaolo Dondio, Mariana Rocha, Attracta Brennan, Avo Schönbohm, Francesca de Rosa, Antti Koskinen, Francesco Bellotti

Publisher: Springer Nature Switzerland

Book Series : Lecture Notes in Computer Science


About this book

This LNCS volume constitutes the proceedings of 12th International Conference, GALA 2023, in Dublin, Ireland, held during November/December 2023.

The 36 full papers and 13 short papers were carefully reviewed and selected from 88 submissions. The papers contained in this book have been organized into six categories, reflecting the variety of theoretical approaches and application domains of research into serious games:

1. The Serious Games and Game Design2. User experience, User Evaluation and User Analysis in Serious Games3. Serious Games for Instruction4. Serious Games for Health, Wellbeing and Social Change5. Evaluating and Assessing Serious Games Elements6. Posters

Table of Contents


Serious Games for Instruction

An Engaging Serious Game that Strengthens High School Students’ Understanding of the Periodic Table

This study aimed to strengthen Danish high school students’ understanding of the periodic table by designing a serious game. The study included 46 students from two classes in chemistry. One class with 24 students was included in the experimental study, which employed game-based learning as part of understanding the periodic table. One class with 22 students served as the control group and engaged only in an analog reading of the periodic table. The evaluation consisted of data logging, a knowledge test, a questionnaire with items from the user engagement scale, and interviews with 12 students. The findings revealed the game engaged the students. Students in the experimental gaming group reported significantly higher positive engagement than the control group did. The knowledge test revealed, that in four out of six questions, the gaming group answered more correctly than the control group did. Interestingly, the highest percentage of correct answers was a question linked to a game-designed surprise with an alarm.

Thomas Bjørner, Nick B. Blume, Nicolaj J. D. Frederiksen, Victor S. Hjort, Amalie F. H. Mørck, Martin Ø. Petersen
EscapeCell: Serious Game Integration to a University Biology Course on an E-Learning Platform

This paper presents EscapeCell, a Serious Game to help undergraduate students understand plant cellular biology. Each course chapter is enriched with one mini-game, a gamification module integrated into the e-learning platform and several reminders of the game in the course material. We conducted a study on 117 students to compare their exam results with a control group from last year. We also correlated the collected feedback from the students and usage tracks. This helped us measure the usefulness of specific game elements such as a non-player character that provides help and bonus information modules hidden throughout the mini-games. The preliminary results indicate that the integration of EscapeCell improves students’ learning outcomes in the final exam and that Blob, the virtual tutor, facilitates the usage of the mini-games. Although the bonus information modules do not directly correlate with the final exam result, they show a positive correlation with the scores of the intermediate tests - the multiple-choice questions (MCQs) - taken by the students just after playing the mini-games.

Ying-Dong Liu, Bertrand Marne, Iza Marfisi-Schottman, Tiphaine Galpin, Aurore Caruso
Using Meaningful Choices and Uncertainty to Increase Player Agency in a Cybersecurity Seminar Game

The paper proposes an approach to improving player engagement and learning outcomes in seminar-style games, based on emphasizing player agency, meaningful choices, and uncertainty. As a case study, it introduces a game focused on trust in cybersecurity, whose design incorporates resource management, hidden agendas for each player, and a shared failure condition.

Peadar Callaghan, Mikhail Fiadotau
Yabusame!!! - Historical Japanese Cross Scroll Meets VR

The progressive advancement of digital technologies offers novel prospects for the preservation and exhibition of cultural heritage assets in day-to-day museum operations. Within this framework, contemporary media platforms like virtual reality (VR) still maintain an element of novelty in public perception, thereby serving as a catalyst to engage individuals in cultural knowledge. Drawing on these assumptions, this paper introduces our serious game, Yabusame!!! - a collaborative endeavor between our team and the esteemed city museum, Hornmoldhaus, developed during the Coding da Vinci Hackathon for cultural data ( ). The game, a VR bow shooting experience, creatively imparts the contents of a historical Japanese cross scroll that portrays the eponymous Japanese sport, Yabusame, alongside associated historical and cultural knowledge. The game design encompassed deliberate strategies aimed at optimizing usability and mitigating potential causes of motion sickness, ensuring the practical applicability of the game within the corresponding museum exhibition. This paper unfolds in three parts: firstly, an exposition of the cultural backdrop behind the game; secondly, an exploration of our didactic strategy, game design choices, and our vision for seamlessly integrating the VR game within a museum exhibition; and finally, the presentation of a study we conducted to examine the practical usability of Yabusame!!! in this setting.

Kevin Körner, Patrick Muczczek, Jana Knickrehm
Astral Body: A Virtual Reality Game for Body Ownership Investigation

As one of the most disruptive human-computer interaction techniques, Virtual Reality (VR) provides a novel way to examine human movements, e.g. when investigating Body Ownership (BO) in the field of cognitive sciences, especially when the visual output diverges from real-world actions. Previous research in BO uses questionnaires and brain imaging, where the former is a highly subjective metric, and the latter is very costly in time, money, and personnel. To answer the question How can a VR serious game help overcome current challenges of BO assessment?, we designed Astral Body, a VR game that helps cognitive science researchers assess people’s level of BO. In the game, players are asked to grab ‘flying collectibles’ coming from a portal in space. Researchers can inject different types and levels of asynchrony into the arms of the visualized avatar, thus affecting the players’ BO experience and perception. Players, in turn, can also report whenever they perceive possible mismatched avatar behavior. In addition, researchers can analyze player data, including looking for unconscious responses, e.g. small adjustments in physical movements to mitigate injected asynchrony. Preliminary results from playtesting and qualitative analysis of Astral Bodyindicate that a VR game can effectively help researchers investigate BO phenomena.

Yimin Zhou, Merlijn Mac Gillavry, Pengzhi Yang, Zihao Xu, Baitian Zhang, Rafael Bidarra
Towards a Competitive Two-Player Anti-phishing Learning Game

This paper explores the design and implementation of a competitive two-player anti-phishing learning game on the topic of phishing emails, aiming to educate users on how to recognize and create phishing emails, leveraging Cialdini’s principles of persuasion. By moving towards a competitive environment, the game presents a more constructive learning environment, in which players can compete against each other during the game-based learning process. A preliminary user study investigates the new game mode and evaluates usability and user experience to further improve its implementation.

Rene Roepke, Johannes Ballmann
The Design and Implementation of Biological Evolution as a Video Game Mechanic

Video games have the potential to help teach evolutionary biology, but most commercial games misrepresent evolutionary principles by allowing player choice to dictate evolutionary trajectories. Our game studio aims to incorporate scientifically accurate evolutionary models into gameplay mechanics. In our previous games Darwin’s Demons and Project Hastur, we designed digital genomes and implemented evolutionary models to create enemy populations that adapt to player strategies. However, accurately simulating evolution can sometimes conflict with crafting an enjoyable game. Here we examine balancing scientific realism with fun in the game design process. Using experimental data from Project Hastur, we show enemies evolve increased size and sensory abilities to counter player defenses, demonstrating the game mechanic’s adaptive capabilities. We discuss how mutation rates, population sizes, generation times and other parameters can be adjusted to balance accuracy and enjoyment, with the goal of creating engaging games that reinforce and demonstrate, rather than misrepresent, evolutionary principles.

Barrie D. Robison, Terence Soule
The Nurse’s Knowledge Bank: A Serious Knowledge Elicitation and Evaluation Game

The problem addressed in this research is that not all nursing knowledge is captured in a way that is easy to access outside the border of a community of practice (CoP) or beyond geography or time. As nursing accounts for over half the healthcare professionals globally, the role is broad in scope, performed in various healthcare settings and across the human lifespan; managing this knowledge is important. To address this problem, this research explores to what extent a serious game could elicit and evaluate specialist nursing knowledge so that it can be preserved beyond its initial use. However, no suitable game was found. Using an elaborated action design research (eADR) approach, this research designed, implemented, and evaluated a serious knowledge elicitation and evaluation game – The Nurse’s Knowledge Bank. In total, three cycles of the game were played by nurses (n = 18) based in an oncology setting. From the three cycles n = 112 evaluated knowledge submissions were captured. These submissions included concepts such as ‘Check patients’ temperature on discharge’ or ‘Ensure patient has their prescription before discharge’. These submissions were mapped into two clinical terminologies, providing a means of sharing this knowledge beyond the clinic border and demonstrating that serious games could potentially have a role in knowledge management. This paper presents an overview of the development and design of the game.

Sinead Impey, Declan O’Sullivan, Gaye Stephens
eKinomy: Designing a Serious Game to Promote Economic Decision-Making Skills from Elementary Level

Serious games are designed to provide purposeful and engaging learning experiences, fostering knowledge acquisition and skills development. They hold the potential to simplify complex theories and concepts, making them easily comprehensible for learners. While the versatility and effectiveness of serious games provide immersive experiences in complex subject matter areas, such as STEM subjects, healthcare, environment science, etc., the integration of serious games into K-12 economic education, particularly for enhancing decision-making skills, remains limited. This paper proposes a work-in-progress role-play simulation serious game design with the theme of international trade designed for grades 5–8 to enact roles of producers, importers, and exporters as well as develop economic decision-making strategies. The paper begins by discussing the necessity of serious games in K-12 economic education. Next, the paper elucidates the design process employed in creating the serious game “eKinomy” and embedding the simulation and role-play elements into it. We outline the steps taken to ensure that the game aligns with the learning objectives of economic education while providing an engaging and immersive experience for learners.

Zhixin Li, Sharon Jessica
A Reusable Serious Game Model for Natural Hazard Risk Communication: Evaluation of a Tsunami-Focused Case Study

This paper outlines the challenges around communicating natural hazard risk to children, due to the nature and concept of risk. It utilizes trusted disaster risk reduction advice to form the learning objectives of a serious game prototype for tsunami hazard. The study proposes an activity model that could form the basis of a game applicable to twelve different natural hazard scenarios thereby reducing resource input and reaching a significant number of learners in the formal education system. Evaluation of the prototype using an attitudinal survey suggests an adventure role playing game centered on challenges which use risk information is a viable concept for a serious game for communicating natural hazard risk.

Steven Hawthorn, Rui Jesus, Maria Ana Baptista

Serious Games for Health, Wellbeing and Social Impact

Does Players’ Prosocial Behavior in Computer Game Predict Their Well-Being in Real Life?

This study investigates the correlation between players’ prosocial behavior in computer games and their well-being in real life. Participants were invited to engage in a simple computer game where their task was to assist others in enhancing their mobility to reach the goal. The primary objective of this study was to determine whether the characteristics of this supportive behavior in the game could predict the participants’ well-being in real life. Participants’ prosociality was evaluated from two perspectives: a subjective evaluation of their prosocial behavior in daily life, as measured by the Altruistic Personality Scale (APS), and the number of assists provided in the game. While controlling for key demographic variables, the study examined the effect of participants’ prosociality on their level of well-being. The results revealed that players who exhibited more prosocial behavior in the game also reported higher levels of well-being outside the game context.

Kazuhisa Miwa
Pro(f)Social: A Serious Game to Counter Cyberbullying

This study proposes to present the design and face validity of a serious game prototype, Pro(f)Social, as part of a blended learning teacher training program based on social-emotional ethical learning to promote pro-social behavior and well-being among children, through changes in teachers’ emotion regulation and moral involvement with cyberbullying and their social-emotional competence to deal with the phenomenon. Teachers are often unaware of aggressive acts among their students, and even when they are, many consider that they are not responsible for resolving cyberbullying issues. Therefore, it is fundamental to develop resources based on human-machine collaboration to attain several milestones in designing serious games to prevent and intervene in cyberbullying by providing teachers with know-how through interactive training with artificial intelligence. The game presented, along with its face validity (n = 290 units for content analysis), offer technology professionals the necessary knowledge to develop future interventions to counter cyberbullying.

Nádia Pereira, Paula Ferreira, Sofia Francisco, Ana Margarida Veiga Simão
Balancing Inequalities: A Board Game for Young People from Coastal Communities to Discuss Plausible Futures

This paper describes and summarises the design process of making a board game for young people from coastal communities in England to engage and discuss perspectives about their futures. The board game was created around imagining plausible futures and aimed at providing scenarios for players to make decisions about their futures considering social, economic and health inequalities. The paper showcases an exploratory approach of identifying game design elements based on co-design sessions with stakeholders (young people between the ages of 14–17) and experts, while using real-world scenarios and game design balancing techniques. The contributions of the paper are twofold: 1) it describes the process of making the board game via stakeholder participation, game design systems and game balancing; and 2) it provides a research-through-design method in which the design of the game reflects the intrinsic system in which young people live and suggests ways to overcome barriers established by these systems. The paper concludes with suggestions for future research such as the use of the game in participatory design sessions, mentoring classes and as an initial framework for serious games that can emerge from the discussions (e.g., teaching life skills, entrepreneurship competencies, etc.).

Vanissa Wanick, Cara Black, Craig Hutton, Mary Barker, Adam Watts
The C3C Game: Serious Games and Community-Centered Design for Improved Pandemic Decision Making

Serious games have long been used in domains like defense, management, finance, and environmental protection to improve plans and procedures. In the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, public health and emergency management organizations are beginning to use such games to enhance their preparedness and readiness activities. In this paper, we present a Knowledge Acquisition Analytical Game (K2AG) focused on understanding and providing training for command, control, coordination, and communication (C3C) functions during an infectious disease outbreak. Unlike traditional game-based exercises, which target strategic, operational and tactical decision making, the K2AG games focus on the cognitive level at which decision-making under uncertainty takes place. Specifically, the C3C Game collects data reflecting the cognitive processes by which players gain situational awareness, make decisions, and take actions. The C3C Game was created through a community-centered design process and leverages methods from human factor engineering, including hierarchical task analysis. This paper describes the game, presents results from a pilot exercise conducting with public health and emergency response decision makers from a large US metropolitan area, and discusses the potential for such games to improve pandemic preparedness and resilience.

Francesca de Rosa, Mark Escott, Douglas Havron, Desmar Walkes, Lauren Ancel Meyers
JOYRIDE: Mobile Robot-Integrated Gamified Exercise Tour for Increasing Physical Activity Among Elderly People

This study presents development of JOYRIDE, a light-hearted gamified exercise tour, which is built around a mobile robot for Finnish elderly people, who also played with the system in practice. The user testing results, despite the starting challenges during these first testing rounds, can be considered positive: elderly people are willing to welcome technology to improve their functioning and enhance social interaction. It was discovered that the design and size of the robot, the user interface, as well as the layout of the route, are crucial factors when mobile robots are implemented into these kinds of applications and environments.

Mirka Leino, Taina Jyräkoski, Tommi Lehtinen, Jussi-Pekka Aaltonen, Sandra Herrnegger, Johanna Virkki, Sari Merilampi
The Gamification Elements Speech-Language Pathologists Use to Motivate Children for Speech Therapy Training

Motivation is an important factor in paediatric speech therapy. Rehabilitation is often long-term work that requires many repetitions and home training with parents. Therefore, one of the most important tasks of paediatric speech-language pathologists (SLPs) is to find different ways, over and over again, to motivate children for training. As different types of games themselves have already been identified as important motivational tools used by SLPs, the purpose of this study was to investigate what kind of gamification elements SLPs use in therapy, in addition to the games themselves, to motivate children for training. 26 Finnish SLPs responded to an online questionnaire consisting of four open-ended questions. Our results indicate that SLPs typically use several different motivational methods, which they aim to personalize as much as possible to individually support motivation. SLPs make a special effort to increase children’s intrinsic motivation by employing motivational features commonly used in gamification, such as playfulness, the child’s own interests, and goal setting.

Charlotta Elo, Tiina Ihalainen, Tanja Vihriälä, Johanna Virkki
Application of a Serious Game for Emotion Elicitation Under Socio-Economic and Trust Based Decision-Making Scenarios for Autistic Adolescents

The relationship between decision-making and emotions has been extensively studied in both theoretical and empirical research. Game Theory-based paradigms utilizing socio-economic and trust-based contexts have been established to elicit specific emotional responses in autistic individuals. Serious games, incorporating cohesive storylines and multiple interactions within these contexts, can serve as engaging tools for emotion elicitation in autistic individuals. As autistic adolescents tend to show higher engagement with games, we aimed to investigate applicability in this population. To achieve this, we developed a mobile serious game that combines four socio-economic and trust-based game paradigms, aiming to evoke specific emotions of varying intensities during different interactions. This paper presents the outcomes of a preliminary experiment involving thirteen participants. The results show that the game’s designed interactions successfully elicited emotional responses aligning with the expectations derived from literature in non-game applications.

Fahad Ahmed, Riccardo Berta, Francesco Bellotti, Federica Floris, Luca Lazzaroni, Giacinto Barresi, Jesus Requena Carrion

User Experience, User Analysis and User Assessment in Serious Games

Not (Only) a Matter of Position: Player Traits Which Influence the Experience with the Leaderboard in a Digital Maths Game

Leaderboards have often been shown to increase engagement and motivation in digital serious games, supporting better learning outcomes and positively affecting players’ game experience. However, few studies show how the player’s position on the leaderboard can be a demotivating factor and how the presence of a leaderboard can increase competition and social pressure on players to the point of hindering their game experience. In examining the relationship between a leaderboard and the player’s game experience, we sought to identify the significant factors influencing whether or not a player liked the presence of a leaderboard in a digital maths game. We conducted an experimental study involving 434 Irish primary school children who participated in a 6-week digital game-based learning (DGBL) programme playing the game Seven Spells, which included a game leaderboard. Results indicated that the players’ enjoyment of the leaderboard depended not only on their in-game performance (i.e. their position on the leaderboard), but also on their level of maths anxiety and how much they enjoyed different play modes such as playing versus a classmate or playing alone. These results suggest that game designers should consider the non-cognitive traits of players when deciding on the inclusion of a leaderboard in a digital maths game, in order to mitigate its potential negative effects on the players’ game experience.

Pierpaolo Dondio, André Almo, Maíra Amaral, Ephrem Tibebe, Mariana Rocha, Attracta Brennan
An AI Approach for Analyzing Driving Behaviour in Simulated Racing Using Telemetry Data

The emerging and rapid progress of esports (competitive computer gaming) currently lacks approaches for ensuring high-quality analytics to augment performance in professional and amateur esports teams. In this paper, we demonstrate the application of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) techniques in the esports domain, particularly in simulation (sim) racing, for analyzing drivers’ behaviour based on telemetry data from race drivers. To achieve this, we used a professional racing simulator to collect a wide range of feature-rich telemetry data from 93 participants through MoTec telemetry software and the ACC sim racing gaming platform. An objective assessment of the characteristics of the driver’s behaviour was then obtained through a set of predefined lap-based metrics derived from telemetry data. Additionally, a comparison of driving styles was carried out using machine learning approaches for grouping the acquired laps based on performance (lap time). The findings from our analysis contribute to a better understanding of how elite drivers differ from low skilled drivers based on their telemetry. Furthermore, our findings provide researchers with key metrics to develop more efficient training tools and techniques to improve sim racing performance.

Fazilat Hojaji, Adam J. Toth, John M. Joyce, Mark J. Campbell
The Influence of Personality Traits and Game Design Elements on Player Enjoyment: An Empirical Study on GWAPs for Linguistics

The present research investigates the effects of Personality Traits (PTs) and Game Design Elements (GDEs) on Player Enjoyment (PE) in the context of serious games. Three Games With A Purpose (GWAPs) were created to revise and correct automatically tagged Parts-of-Speech (PoS) of the Corpus Oral y Sonoro del Español Rural (COSER, [5], ‘Audible Corpus of Spoken Rural Spanish’), the most extensive collection of spoken dialectal Spanish data. The ultimate goal of the project is to build a morpho-syntactically annotated and parsed corpus of the European Spanish dialects through a crowd-sourced gaming environment, whereby players assign a PoS, i.e., a grammatical category (e.g., verb, noun, adjective, pronoun), to a word in an input text thereby confirming or correcting the automatically tagged PoS. This task has been implemented in three GWAPs: Agentes, Tesoros, and Anotatlón. Each game concept includes a set of GDEs (e.g., rewards, challenges, leaderboards, among others) to investigate their influence on PE. This study, which includes 54 participants, shows associations between PTs and GDEs, and some GDEs yielded a positive correlation with PE. These findings hold the potential to inspire future research and guide the design of future serious games.

Rosa Lilia Segundo Díaz, Gustavo Rovelo, Miriam Bouzouita, Véronique Hoste, Karin Coninx
UX and Serious Games—A Research Agenda

User experience (UX) research entails the research and design processes of all user experiences with a product, while serious games have been increasingly gaining importance to facilitate otherwise unappealing or tedious activities in education, health, or business contexts. The players, their willingness to play the game, and the games’ effects on them are crucial in the design and development of games and serious games. The established concepts and methods for research and design of user experience constitute a reasonable starting point for locating methods to employ when designing and developing serious games. To identify gaps and form a research agenda, we adopted grounded theory-based literature review as a method to research the current state of UX concept integration in serious games’ development. While integrating evaluation methods is well under-way, there is still significant unfulfilled potential around user research and design. In particular, lacking awareness of existing research concepts and methods poses a significant hurdle.

Gerda Huber, David Rückel
Does Playing Video Games Give a Child an Advantage in Digital Game-Based Learning?

In this paper we first investigated the relationship between game habits of primary school children and their school achievements and anxiety levels. Then, we investigated if children habitually playing video games at home have an advantage when it comes to learning using educational games. In order to answer these questions, we exploited the data coming from the digital game-based learning (DGBL) intervention Happy Maths, a 6-week programme run in Irish primary schools aimed to increase maths abilities and decrease maths anxiety (MA). The dataset contained the academic achievements, the video game habits and the intervention data of 952 pupils. Our results show how playing games at home that are not age-appropriate was associated with higher MA and lower maths score, while time spent playing was associated with higher MA and lower literacy score. Regarding the efficacy of the DGBL intervention, there was no difference in the efficacy of the intervention between gamers and non-gamers. However, habitual video gamers were faster in executing their game moves, and they achieved higher scores, learning the game better. Overall, the study underlines the importance of playing age-appropriate games, and it provides evidence that, although kids playing video game might have a good advantage when it comes to educational games, the efficacy of such games is the same for gamers and non-gamers.

Pierpaolo Dondio
Are Game Elements Fueling Learners’ Motivation via Positive Affect?

The use of game elements in learning tasks is often motivated by the aim of utilizing their motivational capabilities. Even if game elements do not directly affect cognitive learning outcomes, they can keep learners engaged and support long-term loyalties. In this contribution, we present an investigation of the effect of game elements with a specific focus on affective and motivational aspects. In particular, we report a value-added online experiment, comparing a game-based version with a non-game-based version of an association learning task. In total, 61 participants completed the experiment. While we find comparable cognitive learning outcomes, we find medium and large differences in affective and motivational outcomes. Game elements are associated with an increase in positive affect and increased perceived competence compared to the non-game-based task. The game-based task was further perceived significantly more attractive and stimulating. Mediation models revealed that the increased cognitive cost introduced by game elements was effectively balanced by their benefits regarding motivation. The latter was partially mediated by changes in positive affect. In sum, the net cognitive outcome was the same for both tasks, but learners in the game-based condition were more positively affected, more motivated and felt more competent. Implications and future research directions are discussed.

Stefan E. Huber, Antero Lindstedt, Kristian Kiili, Manuel Ninaus
An Introduction to Game-Based Competence Assessment Based on Cognitive Diagnostic Models

In Serious Games, in particular in learning and training games, the assessment of competencies and skills is crucial for monitoring learning progress, tailoring learning experiences, and providing individual formative feedback. A sound psychometric diagnostic of competencies is not trivial, however. Conventional scoring techniques have severe shortcomings in terms of accuracy and the degree to which actionable information can be drawn from them. In this paper we introduce Cognitive Diagnostic Models and in particular Competence-based Knowledge Space Theory as theoretical underpinnings of in-game competence assessments. We exemplify the approach by a gamified mathematics learning scenario named Mathiade and illustrate the steps of developing, implementing, and evaluating competence models.

Michael D. Kickmeier-Rust, Corsin Niggli, Katharina Richter
A Teacher-Configurable Scoring System for Serious Games

Serious Games (SGs) are versatile tools that entertain while addressing serious issues through digital or analog gameplay. However, ensuring continuous supervision during gameplay can be challenging. To overcome this, we propose a flexible scoring system that automates procedure evaluation, empowering learners and promoting independent skill development. By conceptualizing procedures as ordered actions with specific information, our approach enriches the learning experience, making SGs more effective educational instruments. This research advances SGs, allowing students to take control of their learning journey and improving information retention through practical experiences. With this innovative scoring mechanism, SGs hold the promise of becoming even more impactful in addressing critical educational challenges.

Alessandro Pighetti, Luca Forneris, Francesco Bellotti, Alessio Capello, Marianna Cossu, Giuseppe Gioco, Riccardo Berta

Evaluating and Assessing Serious Games Elements

Exploring Immersive Learning Environments in Human-Robot Interaction Use Cases

This paper describes a focus group study that explores immersive learning in the field of Human-Robot Interaction (HRI). We examine four categories of HRI cases: robot-led, human-led, autonomous, and collaborative. For each case, we evaluate the potential risks and human learning outcomes. Our findings include interaction styles that can be applied in HRI as well as the directionality and (multi)modality of these interaction styles. We identified several areas of risk, including miscommunication, privacy concerns, and injuries. Lastly, we explored common human learning outcomes based on the interaction categories. Our findings fill a gap in the literature by providing an analysis of immersive learning outcomes and risks in the field of HRI. Our results contribute towards the establishment of a framework that can improve the development of immersive learning environments.

Daniel Majonica, Nardie Fanchamps, Deniz Iren, Roland Klemke
Skill Check: Some Considerations on the Evaluation of Gamemastering Models for Role-Playing Games

In role-playing games a Game Master (GM) is the player in charge of the game, who must design the challenges the players face and narrate the outcomes of their actions. In this work we discuss some challenges to model GMs from an Interactive Storytelling and Natural Language Processing perspective. Following those challenges we propose three test categories to evaluate such dialogue systems, and we use them to test ChatGPT, Bard and OpenAssistant as out-of-the-box GMs.

Santiago Góngora, Luis Chiruzzo, Gonzalo Méndez, Pablo Gervás
Assessment of Input Modalities for Control and Accessibility in Fully Immersive Virtual Reality Educational Game

Educational video games need to be fully accessible and inclusive. Fully immersive virtual reality (VR) must consider and address the needs of diverse user groups. In this paper, we propose to assess user performance, task completion and input modality preferences for a range of different gameplay modes, in either a standing or sitting position, in the educational game “Numbers and Letters”. We assess the performance and usability of three input modalities: 1) a hand laser pointer for pointing and a trigger for selection, 2) a head laser pointer for pointing and a trigger for selection, and 3) a head laser pointer and a dwell time for selection, then assess differences in user performance between the sitting and standing positions for these three input modalities. The analysis was carried out with 14 users. The most preferred input modality was the hand laser pointer in the sitting position. The results stress the need to develop multimodal VR games where users can determine the way they interact with the environment.

Hubert Cecotti, Louis van der Putten, Robin Coste, Michael Callaghan
Assessing the Complexity of Gaming Mechanics During Science Learning

Game-based learning environments (GBLEs) incorporate game mechanics, i.e., learning and assessment mechanics, to increase domain knowledge while maintaining learner engagement. Although GBLEs have been developed to improve science learning, learners have attained lower science achievement scores over the past decade as they progress through school. As such, there is a need to better understand how learners use game mechanics as they learn about science content. This study aimed to understand how learners generally use and transition between learning and assessment mechanics while learning about science with a GBLE and how those transitions were related to learning outcomes (i.e., learning gains, game success). High-school students (N = 137) were recruited to play Crystal Island, a GBLE about microbiology. Results found that participants used static learning mechanics (e.g., virtual books about microbiology) most often, followed by game and content assessment mechanics, and lastly followed by aid and dynamic learning mechanics. Further results found that several sequential transition probabilities were related to lower learning outcomes with a few transitions positively relating to game completion success. Findings from this study also show that the type of game mechanic, as well as the direction of transitions across game mechanics significantly relate to learning outcomes. These findings provide insights into how to develop scaffolding techniques for improving science learning outcomes.

Daryn A. Dever, Megan Wiedbusch, Saerok Park, Andrea Llinas, James Lester, Roger Azevedo

Serious Games and Game Design

Inside the System - Designing VR Serious Games for Computer Science Education

This paper argues, that VR learning games are a promising approach to build motivating interactive learning experiences for abstract learning content in computer science education (CSE). This can be achieved, by using suitable metaphors, letting learners get in touch with abstract learning content in an immersive hands-on experience. In order to implement a successful game design that supports the learning content while utilizing the possibilities of VR, a design process is proposed. This process uses conceptual models in order to find suitable metaphors and connecting learning content with game design. The process is demonstrated for two VR learning games that are part of the Inside the System series of CSE serious games.

David Baberowski, Thiemo Leonhardt, Nadine Bergner
Generator of Personalised Training Games Activities: A Conceptual Design Approach

Memorizing declarative knowledge requires repetition, which can become wearing for learners. In addition, redundant game activities, offering unbalanced challenges in relation to the player’s skills, can also lead to a sense of boredom. To reduce this feeling, learning games must provide adapted and varied activities. Automated generation is one way of building such activities. This article proposes a conceptual framework for the design of activity generators for training declarative knowledge in Roguelite games. The framework has been applied in the context of the AdapTABLES project aiming at multiplication tables training.

Bérénice Lemoine, Pierre Laforcade
Haptic Recording Experience
The Iceberg Model as a Serious Game for Decision Making in Systemic Design Oriented Leadership (SDOL)

The Iceberg Model, derived from Systems Thinking, is one of the powerful methods for understanding the hidden dynamics and complexities that influence decision making. By examining the various layers of the iceberg metaphorically, one can gain a deeper understanding of the interconnectedness and interdependencies within systems, enabling to make more informed and connected decisions and foster sustainable change in a complex world.By applying the Iceberg Model in the context of serious games, Systemic Design Oriented Leadership (SDOL) in particular could gain a holistic understanding of the hidden dynamics that determine behaviour and outcomes within their organizations. A serious game of this nature has the capacity to augment a leadership learning culture that fosters the investigation of cognitive frameworks, the interrogation of presumptions, and the cultivation of critical thinking. Through dialogue and reflection, SDOL could surface underlying beliefs and values. SDOLthat embraces the gamification of the Iceberg Model might effectively drive sustainable change in a playful manner. By focusing the gameplay on levels such as “mental models” and “systemic structures”, SDOL can design interventions that address the root causes of challenges rather than applying quick fixes. The Iceberg Model as a serious game fosters a culture of continuous improvement and adaptability, positioning the organization for long-term success.This paper explores the application of the Iceberg Model as a physical serious game in SDOL, highlighting its significance in identifying and addressing underlying factors that impact organizational behavior and performance.

Pelin Celik
Mapping Facts to Concrete Game Elements for Generation Purposes: A Conceptual Approach

Designing serious games or serious game activities requires mapping the educational elements and the game elements. This mapping is mainly addressed from a high-level game design perspective. Moreover, low-level mapping methods are generally domain-specific. Our aim is to address this problem, at an algorithmic level, in the context of activity generation (i.e., automatic creation of activities) for declarative knowledge training. This paper presents a generic modelling approach of questioned facts and gameplays, and an algorithm for the automatic and domain-independent generation of various gameplays for training purposes. The approach has been applied to multiplication tables training.

Bérénice Lemoine, Pierre Laforcade
Collectible Content – Towards a Modular Ecosystem of Intrinsically Integrated Gameplay: The Case of Fractions

Designing a good game is hard. Designing a learning game might be even harder as it requires engaging game elements to be aligned with the respective learning content. However, when this alignment is successful—referred to as intrinsic integration—games become effective tools for learning. In this article, the idea of collectible content is introduced as one way to achieve or make more pervasive use of intrinsic integration to support learning. Similar to an in-game currency system, learning content may be incorporated as in-game collectibles whose collection and manipulation are central aspects of gameplay. To substantiate the beneficial effects of collectible content, it is repeatedly presented, explored, and analyzed through various gameplay tasks. Through its characteristics of duality, consistency, and uniqueness/uniformity, collectible content evolves and adapts offering continuous opportunities for the development of conceptual understanding of the respective content—along with practice of procedures and acquisition of fact knowledge for the tasks at hand. To illustrate the idea and highlight affordances and potential impact of intrinsic integration, we present a prototype design of a fraction learning game to showcase a modular ecosystem focused on collectible content gameplay.

Georgios Thoma, Korbinian Moeller, Manuel Ninaus, Julia Bahnmueller
A Comprehensive Classification of the Elements in Video Games - Explorative, Ludic, Narrative, Sociable

Video games are complex and interdisciplinary objects. For a comprehensive analysis it is essential to have a classification that describes and includes all the game aspects and their interactions with the player. This paper provides a holistic approach with focus on general functional entities, the elements of video games and their relations and associations. The basic idea is a subdivision of video games into meaningful individual game aspects, into elements which belong to one or more classes on the basis of terms and definitions. Based on these element associations, the game itself can be classified as a whole, analyzed and compared on an abstract level.

Michael Riesner
A Hat-Integrated HCI System for Serious Games–Proof-of-Concept Applications in Focus Detection and Game Controlling

This paper presents the first prototype and proof-of-concept applications of an everyday hat-integrated human-computer interaction (HCI) system for serious games. Copper textile-based electrodes are integrated into a basic hat, and an HCI system is built around OpenBCI Ganglion device. As proof-of-concept applications, focus detection based on electroencephalography (EEG) and mobile game controlling based on electrooculogram (EOG) are presented. The functionality of these applications is tested by four participants. Based on the achieved results, this hat-integrated HCI system with copper-based textile electrodes can be an effective HCI medium for versatile serious games applications. Calibration of the system must be done for each participant, which will be the focus of our next study in this field. The results of this study are steps towards more user-friendly human-technology interfaces and game controllers, which can be integrated into our daily clothing for versatile serious games applications.

S. M. Musfequr Rahman, Asif Shaikh, Henna Mattila, Tarmo Lipping, Merilampi Sari, Pasi Raumonen, Johanna Virkki


A Game Design-Centric Taxonomy for Feedback Features in Digital Serious Games

As with other pedagogical approaches, feedback is crucial in digital game-based learning, providing information to players and impacting their learning and motivation. However, the design of feedback features varies throughout different serious games, as feedback includes many distinct characteristics. This paper proposes a comprehensive taxonomy for feedback features in serious games, building on previous classifications and emphasising game design aspects. The Taxonomy for Feedback Design in Serious Games provides nuanced descriptions of different feedback aspects and defines clearer distinctions among different feedback characteristics, creating eight new descriptive categories. This paper discusses the characteristics of feedback features, as well as the potential contributions of this new taxonomy for research and practice in the area of education and game science.

André Almo, Mariana Rocha, Attracta Brennan, Pierpaolo Dondio
Gamified Wearable EEG Technology to Support Controlling of Cognitive Load After Brain Injury

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) results from an injury to the head. Depending on the severity of the injury and the affected regions of the brain, consequences vary a lot. Apart from physical challenges, a person with TBI may have various cognitive deficits, which affect the cognitive load of the person in different situations. The paper presents an early paper prototype for a wearable cognitive load measurement device design using biomarkers from an electroencephalogram (EEG). The paper discusses how the rehabilitation and daily tasks could be adjusted and optimized for individuals’ needs by using such a cognitive load measurement tool. Designing this kind of system requires skills from various disciplines. Thus, the early product design was created in a multidisciplinary workshop. As everyday EEG-based tools are still in their early development phase, it is very important to pay a lot of attention to technical development. However, in order to facilitate the implementation of such technology, it is also crucial to concentrate on easy-to-wear, user-friendly, and fashionable product design.

Sari Merilampi, Taina Jyräkoski, Anja Poberznik, Nina Karttunen, Toni Seessalo, Johanna Virkki, Tarmo Lipping
Future Blocks: Sci-Fi Storytelling as a Serious Game for Leadership Development

The short paper explores the integration of serious games and speculative fiction in leadership education. The serious game Future Blocks uses sci-fi narratives to foster strategic thinking, adaptability, and foresight in participants, essential skills in effective leadership. The preliminary research investigates the game’s potential to stimulate critical thinking and creativity while enhancing communicative skills through its engaging and interactive structure. It demonstrates the potential of serious gaming in leadership development pedagogy.

Avo Schönbohm, Jan-Henrik Walter
Astera, an Educational Game About the Evolution of Galaxies

The Universe at its largest scales remains still almost a mystery for most of the people not working in this field. With Astera, we present an educational video game that can teach about the cosmos whilst providing a thrilling and fun gaming experience. Astera allows the user to fly through the Universe up to the most distant galaxies, and “build” the Universe by growing and merging galaxies according to the most recent findings in astrophysics. As our results show, games like Astera can have a positive impact on players attitude towards galaxy evolution and science in general, and the player’s willingness to follow up on related activities.

Tobias Grubenmann, Francesco Shankar
A Security-Focused Architecture for Gameplay Telemetry in Serious Games

Serious games are a promising approach for diagnostic and therapeutic as well as educational purposes. Capturing player performance and behavior along with details of gameplay directly from the game is a valuable data source for evaluating serious games and for their iterative refinement. In many serious games, the collected data can however be especially sensitive for privacy, as it may imply learning or health state progression, and thus should be strongly protected. In this paper, we specify goals for a security-enhanced game telemetry system, model a security architecture based on them, and present the design of such a system, which we implemented for evaluation of health games in our research group. The presented system is designed to be applicable for various types of serious games. It employs end-to-end encryption, signatures, and data separation to improve protection of collected data without the addition of usability burdens on players from these security measures.

Stefan Bodenschatz, Tilo Mentler, Christof Rezk-Salama
Game-Based Teaching Scenarios in Upper Secondary Mathematics Teaching – European User Experiences

Research shows that digital games can engage students in mathematics and enhance their performance. While mathematics teachers see “maths games” as useful tools, their lack of knowledge about teaching with such games as well as shortage of appropriate games for teaching upper secondary school mathematics prevents the full potential of game-based teaching. This study presents GeomWiz, a gamified geometry quiz, for learning geometry in upper secondary schools as well as two teaching scenarios for using it in teaching. A student user experience study was carried out in three European countries in which teachers piloted GeomWiz and the teaching scenarios. Based on the results, game-based learning with game contents that matches the learning objectives is suitable for geometry teaching in upper secondary schools. Teaching scenarios assist the inclusion of the game into teaching.

Antti Koivisto, Sari Merilampi, Darija Marković, Johanna Virkki, Mirka Leino
Serious Escape Room Game for Personality Assessment

Personality traits are essential parts of human behavior analysis and may be applied in scientific domains like job screening. Nowadays, organizations utilize self-assessment methodologies to evaluate people or groups to establish productive teams. Even though study has been done on questionnaires and other self-assessment techniques to profile a candidate or an employee, they are frequently mundane and repetitive. In this study, we present a serious 3D Escape Room game with the goal of analyzing behaviors based on the OCEAN Five Personality Traits model. This model encompasses an individual’s behavior on five dimensions: openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism. We created corresponding rooms to monitor the player’s gameplay style to develop customized models that assess personalities. These models use gameplay data generated by deep reinforcement learning agents that emulate human behavior, as a ground truth for each trait. Undergraduate and postgraduate students from Greece and Italy took part in our preliminary study and the game results are correlated with the baseline established by weighted questionnaires. The results show that there is indeed a correlation between the profiles from the questionnaires and the game.

George Liapis, Katerina Zacharia, Kejsi Rrasa, Ioannis Vlahavas
Appling a Solution-Focused Approach (SFA) to Overcoming Barriers in Integrating Video Games into the Classroom

Integration of video games in classroom instruction poses challenges for teachers, including the need for technical and financial resources, support from parents and administrators, concerns about toxic gaming culture, and uncertainty in teaching and evaluating using video games. These barriers hinder teachers’ progress, diminish their motivation, and impede the transition toward game-based teaching. This article explores the valid barriers faced by teachers during video game integration into their classrooms and explores the application of the Solution-Focused Approach (SFA) instruments, namely SFA questions, as a possible means to address these barriers. The SFA questions facilitate a shift in focus from deficiencies to existing strengths and from an ineffective Problem Talk to an effective Solution Talk. Various SFA questions are provided to guide teachers toward fostering a healthier and more productive dialogue with themselves and others, allowing concentration on desired outcomes. Promising results of the SFA-based Education Professional Development Programme for Teachers are presented, and future directions are proposed to explore SFA application in this area.

Elena Shliakhovchuk, Miguel Chover Selles
BlendMaster: A Collaborative Board Game for Training Teachers in Blended Learning

Blended learning (BL) combines face-to-face and computer-aided resources, promoting students’ engagement and independence. However, teachers may struggle due to a lack of technological skills and pedagogical challenges. Serious games have proven to be an efficient tool for enhancing teachers’ training, providing immersive and interactive learning experiences, and allowing teachers to develop classroom management strategies in a risk-free environment. We present the design and implementation of BlendMaster, a collaborative board game for training teachers in BL. The game challenges players to make decisions, addressing classroom challenges in both face-to-face and online settings. By exploring the game’s mechanics, dynamics, and aesthetics, we foster reflection on BL while creating an engaging experience. Feedback from players during a training session shows BlendMaster is positively received by teachers and provides insights for further improvements and future directions for the game.

Mariana Rocha, Paul Doyle
Oral Examinations Simulator – An Intelligent Tutoring Tool to Reduce Oral Exam Anxiety

Exam anxiety is a wide spread phenomenon. Although a learner is knowledgeable and well prepared, s/he often fails in examinations due to severe panickiness. In particular oral examinations can be problematic as the testee is directly exposed to the examinant, answers are immediately evaluated, form a picture of the testee’s knowledge and cannot be revised later on. This paper presents the concept and realisation of an online game that prepares learners for the situation of an oral examination. The game simulates the specific situation of an oral examination where questions of the examinant refer to the answers of the testee and try to find out what the testee’s real knowledge is.

Sören Aguirre Reid, Richard Lackes, Markus Siepermann, Georg Vetter, Wladimir Wenner
The Digital Serious Games, a Specific Educational Resource: Analysing Teachers and Educational Engineer’s Information Seeking Behaviour Using the Concept of Information Horizons

We present the first study that analyses and understands the information seeking behaviour of teachers and pedagogical engineers in the context of Serious Games. Although digital serious games are increasingly recognized as valuable educational resources, research into teachers and pedagogical engineers’ information-seeking behaviour and needs in this area remains sparse. To fill this gap, we engaged with 31 teachers to examine how they find, use and orchestrate digital serious games for their everyday classrooms. We conducted two workshops with the participants and used an elicitation toolkit to gather: teachers information sources, needs and challenges.

Mamoudou Ndiaye, Fabrice Pirolli, Raphaëlle Crétin-Pirolli
What Can You Do with a Sword? Gender Biases in Text Game Affordances

Game mechanics can be viewed in terms of affordances: possible actions offered by the environment—depending on the agent (e.g., in a fantasy role-playing game, a sword can be wielded by a knight, but probably not by a dragon). Recently, text generated by large language models (LLMs) has been used to create open-ended text-based game content. However, LLMs have been shown to generate sexist text when trained on gender-biased data. If bias manifests in educational text game affordances it could harm goal achievement. We examine binary gender biases in LIGHT, an English-language persona-based dataset for researching language grounded in a fantasy adventure world, training LLMs on LIGHT and analyzing the diversity of affordances in quests. We find male characters have a more diverse space of affordances yet are less diverse in practice (e.g., mostly wielding a sword) in original and generated quests. To gauge impact on gameplay, we create games from LIGHT quests which can be played in the TextWorld research framework. Artificial agents trained only on male games significantly outperform female, suggesting an impact of affordance biases. These findings illustrate risks in AI- or data-driven generation of serious game content where gender is involved: overlooked biases in affordances can propagate, autonomously enforcing harmful, stereotypical behaviors.

Erik S. McGuire, Noriko Tomuro
Browser-Based Game Design for Cognitive Effort Aware Quality of Experience Evaluation

Cognitive effort plays a crucial part in our multimedia consumption experience as it affects attention. However, traditional research in quality of experience (QoE) relies on the subjective ratings of a multimedia consumption experience under a lab-based environment without distractions. To make the collected QoE ratings closer to realistic usage scenarios we designed a browser-based game as an adapted QoE subjective test that can incorporate and quantify cognitive effort using a dual-task paradigm. Our pilot study results show that our proposed browser-based game is a viable protocol that can control for, and reflect, the cognitive effort via selected self-reported measures given an appropriate load range. Future work will further standardise and simplify the game protocol for robustness, repeatability and test duration.

Pheobe Sun, Flavia H. Santos, Andrew Hines
Design Gamification Strategies in a Digital Learning Environment: The Impact on Students

Over the past few decades, gamification has become increasingly popular and widely used to motivate and engage learners in the digital age. Based on gamification strategies that have been shown to be useful in literature, we wondered how they can be developed in the Digital Learning Environment of the Digital Math Training project. To understand the impact and effectiveness of our implemented gamification strategies in the DLE, we considered the students’ answers, from grade 9th to 13th, to initial and final questionnaire. The results show which of the strategies implemented were most appreciated by the DMT students and which were found to be effective in stimulating their motivation, especially for some categories of students.

Francesco Floris, Valeria Fradiante, Marina Marchisio Conte, Sergio Rabellino
Games and Learning Alliance
Pierpaolo Dondio
Mariana Rocha
Attracta Brennan
Avo Schönbohm
Francesca de Rosa
Antti Koskinen
Francesco Bellotti
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