Towards better gameplay in educational computer games: a PhD thesis.
University of Southampton, School of Electronics and Computer Science,
There is currently a notable amount of research suggesting that educators should use computer games as part of their teaching. Most of this research suggests why games should be used choosing very specific example games, or making broad sweeping statements about gaming as a whole. But very little of the research explains how these games should be used. What features should be present in the game? Do these features change depending on a given learning outcome? Do they change depending on the type of game? This thesis begins by compiling a prospective set of required features for an educational game, taken from literature on Learning Environments, as well as the requirements of different learning styles. This requirement set is cross-referenced with an overview of some typical, commercially available games, to show that such games are capable of meeting these requirements. This preliminary list is used in two investigations: the first explores how well the chosen features are offered by a series of current educational mini-games; the second shows how different requirements are offered by different commercially-available computer game genres. The results of these investigations are used to refine the list, before carrying out a user survey to identify the important features offered by different game genres, and to determine whether game quality improves as more of the features are met. The survey results show that some key requirements separate the genres significantly, while others were consistent across all genres. In addition, there is a positive correlation between each feature offered, and the overall user enjoyment of the game. The thesis concludes with a proposed framework of game genres and features, to assist in the design and selection of games for a given educational scenario, as well as some suggestions for future work.
Actions (login required)