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Designing Games - Special Needs

ProQuest Link: http://proquest.umi.com/pqdweb?index=13&did=1470421291&SrchMode=1&sid=5&Fmt=4&VInst=PROD&VType=PQD&RQT=309&VName=PQD&TS=1215125739&clientId=74379 DOC ID: 1470421291 ISSN: 15372456 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 Abstract (Summary) 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 [Headnote] 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.


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 (Christopher, 1999). 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.



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 study were: * 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.

The Reconstructors

"The Reconstructors" (http://reconstructors.rice.edu/) 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 learning. Table 1

The Questionnaire

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%). Table 2 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 appealing.


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 environment. 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.

Paidea Rules

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.

Ludus Rules

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 goal. 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" (narratology). 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 learning objectives; * 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 design theories. 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 game-based learning.


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. References ========== Aarseth, E. (2000). Allegories of space: The Question of Spatiality in computer games. In M. Eskelinen & R. Koskimaa, (Eds.), Cybertext yearbook 2000. Jyväskylä, Finland: University of Jyväskylä. Ang, C. S. (2004). A game theoretical framework for multimedia learning. Unpublished master's thesis, Multimedia University, Cyberjaya, Malaysia. Ang, C. S., & Rao, G. R. K. (2003, December). 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(2004, September). Book review, Community in the digital age, philosophy and practice (A. Feenberg & D. Barney, Eds.). Ubiquity, 5(28). Walther, B. K. (2003). Playing and gaming reflections and classifications. The Internationa/Journal of Computer Game Research. Acknowledgement 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. [Author Affiliation] CHEE SIANG ANG City University London, UK cf559@soi.city.ac.uk G. S. V. RADHA KRISHNA RAO Multimedia University, Malaysia gsvradha@mmu.edu.my


On the gender gap in tech. -[
Hale's paper]- -[Wever-Rabehl's paper]- -[]- -[]- -[]- -[]-