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Designing Games - Special Needs
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DOC ID: 1470421291
Computer Game Theories for Designing Motivating
Educational Software: A Survey Study
Chee Siang Ang, G S V Radha Krishna Rao.
International Journal on ELearning.
Norfolk: 2008. Vol. 7, Iss. 2; pg. 181, 19 pgs
The purpose of this study is to evaluate
computer game theories for educational
software. We propose a framework for
designing engaging educational games
based on contemporary game studies
which includes ludology and narratology.
Ludology focuses on the study of computer
games as play and game activities, while
narratology revolves around the study of
computer games as narratives. The proposed
framework incorporates the arguments from
both principles of game studies. We maintain
that the enjoyment of playing games comes
from two perspectives, the game play activity
as well as the narrative experience. It is
furthered argued that the views of both
ludologists and narratologists provide
an insight into how to design immersive
and experiential educational software.
To evaluate the theoretical framework,
a survey study was conducted on a group
of 100 students. The findings indicate
that both theories contribute to the
enjoyment factor of an educational game.
Our results also suggest that the students
are more motivated to learn in a game.
They are aware of their learning of the
subject matter, which is embedded in the
game. [PUBLICATION ABSTRACT]
Copyright Association for the
Advancement of Computing in Education 2008
The purpose of this study is to evaluate
computer game theories for educational
software. We propose a framework for
designing engaging educational games
based on contemporary game studies
which includes ludology and narratology.
Ludology focuses on the study of computer
games as play and game activities, while
narratology revolves around the study of
computer games as narratives.
The proposed framework incorporates the
arguments from both principles of game
studies. We maintain that the enjoyment
of playing games comes from two perspectives,
the game play activity as well as the
narrative experience. It is furthered argued
that the views of both ludologists and
narratologists provide an insight into how
to design immersive and experiential
educational software. To evaluate the
theoretical framework, a survey study was
conducted on a group of 100 students.
The findings indicate that both theories
contribute to the enjoyment factor of an
educational game. Our results also suggest
that the students are more motivated to
learn in a game. They are aware of their
learning of the subject matter, which is
embedded in the game.
There has been a gap between educational
and game software. It is generally agreed
that educational software is less interesting
than game software. The major challenge the
educational software designer is facing is
the provision of meaningful interaction to
the learners that allows them to immerse in
the learning process. Interactivity in ** NB **
educational software should not be limited
to allowing the learner to navigate the
content. Many commercial interactive multimedia
resources are no more than presentations of
information to a passive recipient who has
only to point and click. What is needed is
technology that encourages students to actively
engage in carrying out activities, answering
questions, and solving problems.
The development of educational software
is undergoing a reformation; various
theories of learning are proposed and
adopted by the researchers and developers
in this field. Constructivism for example
is one of the most oft-cited theories.
It states that learning is an active process
in which learners construct new ideas or
concepts based upon their current and past
knowledge (Mayer, 1999). By participating
actively in knowledge construction, learners
are motivated intrinsically; certainly
intrinsic motivation is one of the most
pivotal components constructivists are
seeking to make things fun to learn. In fact,
"fun" is perhaps the most imperative element
of games and it has been studied extensively
by some scholars (Brandstatter, 1990; Koster, 2005).
If we are able to "engineer" game-like fun
in e-learning, we are certain to engage the
students in the learning process.
It is also asserted that students need to
develop an understanding of a new domain
through challenging and enjoyable problem-solving
activities (Jones, 1997). Computer games seem to
represent the instructional artefact most closely
matching these characteristics. Besides, some
(Hillis, 2000; Ihde, 2002) claimed that computer
games as a virtual reality infuse the sense of
"presence" in a virtual space through identity
construction, and enable players to associate
themselves with such technologies. Apart from
these, Colaizzi (1978) maintained that genuine
learning may be viewed to include the following
characteristics which are noticeably present
in most computer games:
* it is difficult;
* it is individual, but stimulated collaboratively;
* it is situationally unpredictable;
* learning applications do not automatically
produce genuine learning, but can at the
most inspire it; and
* it changes our views and perceptions of the world.
The ability of computer games to spark interests
among the players can hardly be denied, and some
educators have started to see the capability of
these highly engaging games. Thus, we would like
to examine how we could make educational software
as interesting as games. The article is structured
as follows. The next section describes two
computer game theories and how they could provide
a theoretical framework for designing motivating
learning activities. The following section outlines
the survey study to evaluate an educational game
based on these game design theories. Then the
results and analysis from different perspectives
of game design are presented. Finally, the
discussion and conclusion are presented.
A GAME THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK FOR E-LEARNING
Within the academic study of games, there is
a heated debate on how computer games should
be studied. Basically there are two principles
of game studies: ludology and narratology.
The views between ludologists and narratologists
are always contradictory, as the former argues
that the pleasure of playing games lies in the
gameplay, while the later treats narratives as
the fundamental enjoyment players are experiencing
during the play session.
There is almost no doubt that narratives alone
do not make a game. Computer games require a
simulation that allows the interaction between
the player and the story. Ludology states that
a game is organised within its internal structure,
and oriented toward a goal. Unlike traditional
narrative readers, game players not only play
to know the advancement of a story: their play
is centred in a discovery of an open space that
invites observation through the duration of
temporality (Aarseth, 2000; Walther, 2003).
According to Frasca (2001), the structure and
the goal of a game are governed by paidea rules
and ludus rules respectively. He identified
two types of games: ludus, which refers to the
games whose result defines a winner and a loser;
and paidea, which refers to games that do not.
He also recognises two types of rules: paidea
rules are rules established in order to play
the game, while ludus rules are established
in order to win or lose the game.
Based on his definitions, a book is also a
kind of play, as it has paidea rules: the
reader must turn the page to read the next
part of the text. One can also turn a book
into ludus by adding ludus rules: whoever
finds page number 46 the fastest wins. In
such a way, a book can be a game that tells
stories. After experiencing the pages and
the texts, one constructs a story in his
or her mind. From here we can see the
fundamental difference between the focus
of narratology and ludology.
Narratologists want to examine how one can
tell a good story on this paidea, while
ludologists choose to study the rules and
mechanics of the book or perhaps the
interaction between texts and readers,
making the page flipping experience or
text interaction more interesting.
History has witnessed how people studied
the mechanics of book, making it more
convenient, portable and able to represent
more stories. Even now the printed-paper
takes different forms, from the foldable
map to the paged dictionary. However, there
is not much one can study about the mechanisms
of a book as play because of the physical
limitation of the medium. People are more
interested in the story told in a book.
The same concept can be applied to computer
games. One can choose to study the story
told by the simulation or the simulation
itself (Ang, 2004).
It is emphasised that books only support
the construction of the narrative discourse:
the stories are already written into the book.
Paidea rules of a book define how a reader
can discover the story. Thus, a book is
representing a story. After reading the
stories, the readers construct narratives
in their mind. In a computer game however,
the paidea rules define how the narrative
space functions and operates. The player
interacts with the space, enacts stories,
and constructs narratives. Note that there
are also games that represent a story like
a book, such as adventure games. Hence,
the narrative in games can be categorized
into two types: represented and enacted
(Salen & Zimmerman, 2003).
In most modern computer games, it is usually
a mix of the two. The game represents stories
with cut-scenes, and also allows the player
to construct stories by playing and interacting
with the objects in the game world.
Based on these arguments, we maintain that
e-learning could be studied as computer games.
Examined closely, it is found out that
e-learning has paidea rules: click the menu
buttons and scroll the text with the mouse
button, and so forth. Ludus rules are usually
stated as the learning objective, for example,
to understand the concept of metamorphosis
in a biology module. Like a book, e-leaming
software could be paidea or ludus depending
on the existence of an explicit goal. But why
is it not as engaging as commercial games?
According to ludology and narratology, at
least three reasons are identified:
* the lack of the sense of narrative;
* the lack of semantic paidea rules; and
* the lack of explicit ludus rules.
One of the reasons why an e-learning system
can hardly compete with commercial computer
games in term of enjoyment is its spatial
design. Many software designers have been
trying to create an intuitive interface for
the users by using narrative metaphors.
In fact, narrative interfaces have been used
in the game industry since its infancy and
have successfully enticed a large portion of
computer users for decades. Most e-learning
software does not to take advantage of this
highly effective design. Spatial design is
obviously lacking as most interfaces of
traditional e-learning system use the metaphor
of a book. The computer screen should not be
a representation of a page of book, but a
window to a new world. Learners look through
the screen like through the window to a new
spatial world of knowledge in which the images
of real objects act coherently with virtual
models (Morozov & Markov, 2000). In the case
of computer games, the interface is doubled
in an interesting way. The first is the
interface of the computer: the screen, the
keyboard, and the mouse. An additional interface
is the narrative metaphor, which illuminates
the narrative space in a new dynamic and
interactive medium. The spatial design makes
the first interface "disappeared." The learners
are not interacting with the keyboard or the
mouse, but the story presented from the
computer screen (Laurel, 1993). They are
transported to a narrative space, which is
more resonant and meaningful than experiences
that are actually lived.
While the computer game space is often designed
with a higher degree of "openness" of
narrativity (Kücklich, 2003), many traditional
e-learning systems present learning content
linearly, offer textual explanations, and give
a particular spatial organisation that does not
reflect physical experiences. The learners
should not regurgitate the context-free facts;
rather they expect to utilise knowledge in a
contextually rich situation. Instead of drawing
on the metaphor of book or desktop, e-leaming
should be created as a world that is populated
with anthropomorphic objects, in which the
learners lose track of their physical surroundings
and immerse themselves into the learning
environment through make-believe and pretense.
Anthropomorphic objects or characters are
indispensable in a digital narrative environment,
as narratives need human entities for the reader
to retain interest (Grodal, 1997). Our concern is
how we can integrate this component to the
e-learning design. Some software designers have
attempted to incorporate personification by including
verbal instructions and animated agents. Characters
are supposed to be user-friendly, motivating, and
able to suggest task-relevant ideas (Hoom, 2003).
In e-learning software, objects such as next buttons,
scrolling bars, and search icons are unable to
perform actions that contribute to the telling of
a story. Indeed, in some design, there are animated
human-like characters included to provide
instructions. These characters are however
explicit to the learning context. Indeed,
it is fairly easy to construct this
character-like figure, but the tasks at
hand are to contextualise and maintain
interest. Animations provide models for
believable characters, but not for
character interaction. What are needed
are the characters that live in the
narrative world, and motivate the learners
to proceed toward the learning goal.
Spatiality plays a crucial role in modem
computer games, that Jenkins (2002)
associated game designers to architects.
Some e-learning applications are designed
with a rich space: there is a virtual world
with objects, in which the learners are
supposed to immerse and learn from the
environment. These applications however
are still similar to the traditional
e-learning system. The learners have hardly
anything to do, as they are just wandering
in the virtual world without a sense of time.
Although the space is designed with narrative
possibilities (spaces and characters), without
actions or events, the world is static.
As presented earlier, narratives are understood
from two aspects: enacted and represented.
Despite the possibility of computer technologies
to provide both kinds of narrative, the
e-learning application does not offer rich
narrativity to its learners. The action and
event happening in the software are unable to
tell an engaging story. In many e-leaming systems,
there is hardly any action except for the clicking
of the menu buttons, which is not conceivable as
stories. There should be actions and events that
change the world and bring about stories, making
the world more engaging. As Ryan (2001) has
pointed out, the players do not want to "gather
points by hitting moving targets with a cursor
controlled by a joystick"; they want to fight
terrorists or save the earth from invasion by
evil creatures from outer space. It is the same
for an e-learning system, which is also a type
of game. The learners do not want to click the
button to flip through the pages about genetics;
they want to defeat the monsters by analysing and
breaking their genetic codes.
Another perspective of narrativity in e-learning
is the represented narrative. The learning
content of e-learning should not be presented as
facts. Although facts are presupposition in
narrative, these events and actions are not
presented as facts; they need to be put in a
causal relationship with one another to motivate
the learner. An event needs to occur in a chain
of causal relations and must follow logically
from the event preceding it. Cognitivists believe
that a connection of information in a form of
network is easier to be remembered. Connections
between units of information improve the memory
of this information. Thus, narratives aid recall
through the network of causal links. Narratives
also generate motivation of the learners by
engendering their curiosity and making them
want to continue reading.
Based on the motivational heuristic of computer
game proposed by MaIone (1980), narrativity in
computer games can provide at least two fun
factors: fantasy and curiosity. Fantasy in
computer games is created usually by cladding
a narrative layer to the abstract mechanism
of the game. This involves the use of images,
sounds or animations to represent spaces or
characters, which might or might not actually
present in a real world. In our opinions, it
is difficult for e-learning to create fantasy
because of the abstract and symbolic
representation and interactions. In term of
narrativity, curiosity is stimulated by the
represented narrative. For example, if the
players are informed at the beginning that
a monster has attacked the village and killed e
veryone except the protagonist, they may have
a strong cognitive motivation to know the
reason of the survival.
Paidea and Ludus
Although it is true that games are able
to tell a story, games are more successful
at creating emotional reactions through
interaction than through storytelling.
Whereas traditional narratives may be a
static form of representation, computer
games require a dynamic simulation.
Simulation is not only reproducing or
modelling actual events but also creating
make-believe worlds. Without simulations,
the virtual world is static, for simulations
bring about events and actions. Like movies
and books, a simulation projects a world
subjected to change with time and actions,
but while these linear media represent events
retrospectively, simulation generates events
prospectively (Crawford, 1982). Thus it is
believed that simulations are one of the
prevailing media for teaching and learning
According to Frasca (2001), game design
involves three levels: first, the design
of scripted actions, descriptions and
settings such as those of traditional
storytelling; second, the rules of paidea,
the rules that model the simulated system,
and third, the goal of the ludus that define
a winning. The internal structure of a game
can be characterised by its paidea rules,
which can be classified into two types:
symbolic and semantic. Briefly, symbolic
paidea rules explain the first layer of
game interface: the input and output device
interactions, while semantic paidea rules
describe the narrative layer of interface.
Obviously, the paidea rules of most e-learning
systems are symbolic, and do not provide
narrative meanings to the learners.
In an e-learning system, paidea rules define
how learners interact with the functional
aspects. The enjoyment of users should not
be limited to symbolic paidea rules that
define how users interact with the computer
devices. Learners should engage in play by
observing, hypothesising, testing, and
updating the semantic paidea rules of the
narrative environment. The enjoyment of
paidea should therefore lie in the
exploration of the virtual world and the
discovery of the paidea rules. Some learners
find e-learning interesting at first they
play with it. They might have fun interacting
with the mouse or the keyboard. However, they
soon will understand the entire mechanisms
of the system: there is nothing else more to
explore; no more gameplay and no more narrative.
Understanding the paidea rules does not let
them plan for strategies to achieve the goal.
Unlike computer games where players play and
observe the causality of their actions and the
behaviour of the spatial system, e-learning
systems do not provide such qualities. The major
"gameplay" of most e-learning systems revolves
around the reading of texts since the paidea
rules are oversimplified: point, click, and read.
The fun factor of paidea rules can be associated
to Malone's (1980) control and curiosity.
Curiosity in computer games can be invoked not
only by narratives but also by paidea rules.
From the viewpoint of narrative, the player is
eager to know what happens next in the game.
For paidea rules, the player is curious to test
the rules and mechanisms of the game world.
Players want to know how the world operates,
how the characters or objects act and react.
They are curious and always ask, "let's see if
I can do this." They want to test and possibly
try to break the rules to fulfil their incomplete
understanding of the system. One of the ways to
engage the learners' curiosity is to present
just enough information to make their existing
knowledge appear incomplete. Symbolic paidea
rules are the basic information that players
hold while entering the game world. The knowledge
of these rules is incomplete to comprehend the
entire world: the player needs to infer more
paidea rules based on the symbolic rules they
know by trial and error or cognitive reflection.
Perhaps the most significant difference between
interactive media and traditional ones is the
user control. The player must experience feelings
of control over actions and environment for the
activity to encourage playful, exploratory
behaviour. The interactivity of the computer
game provides feedback to the individual in a
way that is not possible with more static
technologies. Unambiguous feedbacks are important
for the learners to feel in control of their
actions where they feel that they are in charge
of mastering their learning.
Apart from these, the game designer not only
has to design the paidea rules that make the
simulation work, but also defines the goal
of the game (ludus rules). Computer games
usually have an extrinsic ludus rule, which
defines the ultimate goal and several
intrinsic ludus rules, which are the subgoals
of the game. Intrinsic ludus rules are either
predefined by the game designers or are
created by the players during the play session.
Oriented toward extrinsic ludus rules, the
player will plan intrinsic ludus rules to
achieve the goal. For a game-based e-learning
system, extrinsic ludus rules can be important
to scaffold learning. Intrinsic ludus rules
also work as the guidance in the virtual
world that leads the players to the learning
objective. Learning objectives are presented
as part of the narrative context. Instead of
"to understand genetic configuration of animals,"
we can intrigue the learners "to defeat the
monsters by breaking the genetic codes."
This matches the task-based learning, while
each task is introduced as a ludus rule.
As Malone (1980) has pointed out, ludus rules
are important for a computer game to be
challenging, especially for novice learners
who cannot identify the goal by themselves.
Goals must be identifiable and obvious for a
game to be fun. The goal should however be
not too easy or too difficult to attain for
players over a wide range of ability levels.
One of the solutions is to create an environment
without built-in goals, which is structured so
that users will be able to easily generate goals
(intrinsic ludus rules) of appropriate difficulty.
GAME DESIGNS FOR EDUCATIONAL SOFTWARE:
A SURVEY STUDY
In January 2005, we carried out a survey
study to evaluate the theoretical framework
based on ludology and narratology explained
previously for game-based e-learning design.
Information was gathered to estimate the
students' motivation in using an educational
game. In particular, the objectives of this
* to investigate students' general
reaction to game-based learning;
* to evaluate the motivational
factors of narratives, paidea
rules, and ludus rules of an
educational game; and
* to identify if both ludology
and narratology contribute
to the motivation of game
playing in an educational setting.
is a game developed by the Centre of
Technology in Teaching and Learning (CTTL)
of Rice University in Houston. CTTL
received full support from Science
Education Drug Abuse Partnership Award
from the National Institute on Drug Abuse
(NIDA) and National Institutes of Health
to build this educational game.
Aiming at students of all ages,
"The Reconstructors" is a web-based
game, which engages players in a way
that they get to have various roles.
For instance, a player could be a scientist,
historian, geographer, and/or detective.
A player will travel through a futuristic
world and solve the medicinal mysteries
of drugs that are identified as either
harmful or helpful to human beings. The
game comes in five different episodes.
Each episode features several learning
objectives, in which the learner needs
to complete a given task before proceeding
to the next step. Figure 1 shows some
screenshots of the game.
The flow of the game is simple. The
player is presented with the storyline
consisting of animations that explains
what is happening and their mission.
The players are then left to their own
devices to solve the mission. After one
mission is completed, more storylines
and missions will be introduced until
the final game goal is achieved.
This game is chosen mainly because it
contains both game playing and narrative
aspects. The game activity takes place
in a fictional spatio-temporal setting
although much of the information is
based on real scientific and historical
knowledge. It features anthropomorphic
characters and narrative events that
enrich the narrative space. It also
supports various paidea activities such
as the navigation of the storyline,
puzzle solving, the information browsing,
and so forth. Intrinsic ludus rules are
presented gradually as learning objectives
to be achieved. For example, the learner
is required to find a package at the
dumpster in order to solve a mystery.
The following table summarises the game
design aspects in the game their relation
to the motivational factor for game-based
The survey questionnaire consisted of
questions that assess the students'
interest in the educational game, and
whether or not they are motivated from
different perspectives of game theories
as outlined in Table 1. Most of the
questions were directed towards participants'
responses on certain aspects of the game
associated to these game design theories.
The questionnaire included only closed
questions and was basically comprised of
six categories: participants' information,
general game information, narratives,
paidea rules, ludus rules and others.
In order to test the adequacy of the
questionnaire, we conducted a small
pilot of the questionnaire with a group
of students of the same background as
our main sample and made adaptations
based on the feedback we received.
The survey study was conducted at two
stations in Malaysia: the computer lab
of SMK Cyberjaya 1 (Cyberjaya 1 Secondary
School) and the computer lab of Multimedia
University. Fifty students were recruited
in each station based on their willingness
to participate in the study.
Game Design Theories and Motivations
in The Reconstructors
Before the game playing session, the
investigators introduced themselves to the
participants and stated the purpose of the
study. Basic instructions were given on the
game, that is, which websites to go and which
episode to play. Students were also reminded
to answer the questionnaire honestly.
Forty minutes were allocated for the students
to play the game. Some guidance was given to
students on how to use the game and the user
interface. However, no help was given in
solving any game tasks associated with the
subject matter. Besides, a few students who
were weak in English were given help in
explaining certain terms and sentences in
the game. Generally the students were
encouraged to explore the game according to
their own pace during this period of time.
After the game playing session, 20 minutes
were given to answer the questionnaire.
Results and Analysis
Fifty secondary school students and 50
undergraduates constituted the sample of
our study (42 students were male and 58
female). A group frequency analysis (Table 2)
reveals that the most populace group was
15-18 (50%) followed by the 19-23 (26%).
The Age of Participants
Most of the participants used computers
regularly. More than 50% used computers
everyday and only 2% never used computers
at all. Almost half (45%) used computers
to play games while other said they used
computers for work, downloading and
gathering information from the Internet.
Games and Learning In General
To know their general reaction towards
"The Reconstructors," the students were
asked to rate the game. Almost half of
the participants labelled the game as
"excellent" and only 7% rated it as
"the worst game ever" (Figure 2). It
means that most students were enjoying
and satisfied with the game.
The students were then asked if they
would be more motivated if the game was
used in learning medicinal knowledge
instead of learning it in a traditional
way. Fifty-six percent (56%) claimed that
learning using the game was more motivating
than the traditional classroom (Figure 3).
Figure 2. The general rating of the game
Figure 3. Motivation of game-based learning
and traditional learning
The initial finding shows that students were
generally positive toward the use of computer
games in learning a subject matter. In the
following section, we dissect the game into
its components to understand why most students
were interested in playing it. We would like
to know if the game theoretical framework
explains why most students find the game
We want to know if the narrative space,
depicted as a futuristic world in the game,
creates fantasy to motivate the players.
The majority (92%) said it was more effective
to learn in an imaginative world, while only
8% disagreed with this when they were asked
whether they were motivated by the narrative
space depicted as a futuristic world in the
game. The game environment was designed as
a fantasy theme with anthropomorphic
characters. Based on the results of this
question, we could infer that most students
were motivated by this narrative metaphor
in user interface for a virtual learning
We also want to know if the players enjoyed
the storyline presented in the game.
Seventy-nine percent (79%) agreed that the
storyline was engaging while 22% disagreed.
The game contained a lot of prescripted
narrative events to be presented to the
players as they moved on. The response of
the participants showed that represented
storylines were successful in intriguing
their curiosity to know more what was going
to happen in the game.
In the last question regarding narratives,
93% said that they were motivated to take
part in the game scenarios and perform actions.
This indicated that enacted narratives were
a crucial part of narrativity as they immersed
the players in the story world by giving
control to them to enact the story events
instead of treating them as passive readers.
As a conclusion for this section, narratives
of the game do create a fantasy environment
and intrigue players' curiosity with the
storylines. The players also feel immersed
in the narrative because they are invited to
be in part of the narrative space. It is also
noticed that slightly more students were
attracted to enacted narratives than to
represented narratives (storylines) although
in general, both appear motivating to them.
This section looks into the motivational
factor of paidea rules of the game.
Figure 4 displays the result of a question
regarding the players' reactions after
playing the game for five minutes.
Figure 4. Participants' responses after
five minute game playing
Fifty-five percent (55%) chose to continue
playing the games while 16% reported that
they wanted to walk away. It is believed
that the most basic motivation of game
playing comes from knowing the rules
(Ang & Rao, 2003). If the players are
unable to understand the basic paidea
rules in the game, they would just walk
away. Thus, from this result, it can be
induced that the paidea rules are easy to
understand that upon interacting for only
five minutes, the participants could engage
in playing the game meaningfully. Five
minutes interaction with the game successfully
retains their interests.
However this does not necessarily mean that
the paidea rules are as simple as the
click-and-read interaction in a conventional
e-learning system. When asked if the participants
were free to explore the game, 86% said that
they were allowed to leam at their own pace.
Despite the simplicity of the interaction, it
gives control to them to regulate their own
learning pace. This also supports the result
obtained from the last question in the narrative
section where players felt that they took
control of the exploration in the game. It
appears that the paidea rules are simple enough
to learn, and yet provide sufficient controls
to the learners.
We were interested to know if ludus rules
contribute to the motivation of playing the
game. The students were asked if they were
motivated towards the completion of tasks.
Eighty-eight percent (88%) reported that
they were motivated to continue the next
task after completing the previous task.
This implies that the gradual introduction
of the intrinsic ludus rules is successful
in scaffolding the players toward the
extrinsic ludus rule, which is the learning
In certain parts of the game, the player
is required to deactive the drone to progress
to the next stage (the virtual vault) of
the game. Eighty-four percent (84%) said
they gave it their best shot so that they
would be able to enter the virtual vault.
This indicates that the players were
motivated by the challenges in the game
and that achieving goals is meaningful to
the players. Goals are presented as fictional
tasks which challenge the player to strive
for their best. In summary, ludus rules of
the game provide challenges to the players,
while progressively guiding them towards
the learning objectives.
Having understood players' responses on
three separate aspects, we were interested
to know how these aspects are weighted
differently by them. Figure 5 shows the
motivational factors of playing the game.
The main purpose of asking this question
is to explore if the play activity is as
motivating as the narrative experience of
the game. The option "to solve puzzles"
could be associated to "paidea rules exploration"
(ludology); the option "to complete the missions"
could be understood as "ludus rules attainment"
(ludology); while the option "to know the ending"
could be attributed to "narrative experiences"
Focusing on these two categories (ludology = 48%,
narratology = 41%), it was found that both
solving puzzles/completing missions (the game
play activity) and wanting to know the ending
(stories) appeal to the students at the same
degree. It supports our belief that both play
activities and narratives serve as important
motivational factors in an educational game. Thus a successful educational game should integrate narratives in game playing activities in three ways - narrative spaces, represented and enacted narratives as discussed previously.
Finally, we would like to know what the respondents think they gained from the game. This question is very important as it is usually doubted that a game player might end up improving their game playing skills without learning the knowledge intended in the game (Rieber & Noah, 1997). The results show that although the learners said that they do improve in game playing and memory skills needed to proceed in the game, the learners also are aware of their learning of medicinal knowledge which is the subject matter in this study (Figure 6).
Figure 5. The motivation of playing the game
Figure 6. What is gained from the game
Discussion and Future Direction
Our findings from this study appear to support
the initial argument that both playing activities
and narratives in an educational game are important
to motivate the learners. Stated below are several
conclusions from our study:
* learners find game-based learning
more motivating and are willing
to use games for learning;
* narratives are crucial to bring
about curiosity and give the sense
of fantasy which motivates the students;
* well designed paidea rules are able
to give control to the students in
pacing their own learning;
* ludus rules provide challenges and
scaffold students towards the
* both play activities and narratives
are equally effective in designing
pleasurable educational software; and
* learners feel that they not only
improve in game playing skills,
they also gain knowledge about medicine.
[Real world knowledge - but "thin-ness" of
of the story produces an odd "dictionary"
-- ie, towards a complete field of knowledge
proided by broad-based narrative, etc
Game design theories (paidea, ludus, and
narrative) provide a framework for designing
engaging and interesting educational games.
Indeed, games are both simulation and
narrative; game designers need to understand
the balance of interactive design as well
as the importance of storytelling
(Crawford, 2003). Therefore, we believe that
educational games should be designed as a
narrative space with two story possibilities:
represented narratives should tell the story
events as the learners progress, while enacted
narratives should let learners perform actions,
which are tellable as narratives. Apart from
these, paidea rules in educational games should
also provide sufficient interactivity to the
learners, while ludus rules should be stated
as narrative goals which lead the learners
to learning objectives.
It should be pointed out the limitation of
this study that might influence the result.
Perhaps the major limitation is that the
sample of respondents was not randomly
selected but was based solely on their
willingness to participate. The students
might have participated in the survey with
a positive impression on computer games,
thus this produced results that might not
be easily generalised. Therefore, we suggest
that this study be expanded under different
contexts with respondents from various
backgrounds. Future research should also be
carried out to identify in a greater detail
the design principles that serve as a guideline
for educational games based on these game
Furthermore, with the emergence of internet
technologies, computer games have moved
forward to a new paradigm which supports
social interaction among players. The learning
that arises in a social play system postulates
that meaning is not in any player's mind, but
embedded in the social practices of the group
(Gee, 1999). Gee maintained that games create
new social worlds that help people learn by
interacting with others. He also suggested
that games present a simulated world that is
not just about isolated facts and skills, but ** NB **
also a new social practices. Players learn to
make sense of new areas, not only on their own,
but also by engaging with their peers, discussing
and sharing information. A similar argument by
Tripathi (2004) implied that an interactive
networked environment allows a person to connect
oneself to a large community thus help enhance
the learning within the community. Therefore,
future work should also take social interaction
of game playing into account when studying
We have presented three distinct features of
an engaging educational game drawing on
computer game theories: (a) narratives, (b)
paidea, and (c) ludus. By combing the view
from narratology and ludology in our design,
it is hoped that more successful educational
games could be developed. This study has also
shown that the students are willing to endorse
computer game-based learning in a traditional
classroom. However, we do not argue that
computer games should substitute for teachers,
but rather they should complement traditional
teaching and learning methods.
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It is a pleasure to thank the students in SMK Cyberjaya 1 and MMU for giving their full cooperation during the study. To teachers and staff, we would like to express our sincere gratitude for lending us a hand in this study. Special thanks are also directed to research assistants of MMU for their effort in data collection.
CHEE SIANG ANG
City University London, UK
G. S. V. RADHA KRISHNA RAO
Multimedia University, Malaysia
On the gender gap in tech.