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Designing educational games that support learning and reflection

Wednesday 24 May 2023, 12.00PM to 1.00pm

Speaker(s): Joe Cutting and Jo Iacovides, Department of Computer Science

Now you see it, now you don’t. How attention moderates learning in educational games - Joe Cutting

Educational games have long been seen as having great potential, but evidence for their effectiveness is mixed, suggesting deficiencies in our theoretical understanding of learning in games and associated design principles. The principle of “Intrinsic integration” of learning content with game mechanics (Hapgood & Ainsworth, 2011) increases learning in educational games, but the theoretical mechanisms behind the principle are unclear, leading to implementation issues. In response, we performed a pre-registered open science study (n=210) to test possible motivational, cognitive load or attentional mechanisms for moderating learning at an abstract learning task within an educational game similar to Pacman. Learning was higher in the intrinsically integrated version with no significant effects of motivation or cognitive load leading to the conclusion that intrinsic integration increases learning via an attentional mechanism where players only pay attention to features needed for the game task and ignore task-irrelevant information. We discuss theoretical implications for game learning as well as insights for designers of educational games.

Joe Cutting's Bio

Joe Cutting is a postdoctoral researcher in the department of Computer Science, University of York. He has an academic background in both cognitive and computer science as well as extensive industrial experience creating serious games for museums. His research looks at many aspects of digital games including serious game design, game experience, mental health and financial wellbeing. 

The Student-Life Balance game: How can we design games that support reflection? - Jo Iacovides

There has been much interest in how games can be used for persuasive purposes, from education to behavior change, but despite interest in designing games for reflection, there is still much to be understood about the mechanisms that support reflective processes and outcomes. To explore these issues, we created a visual novel style game to prompt student reflection on work-life balance. We focused on this area as students in higher education often experience a number of lifestyle changes and challenges that can affect their wellbeing. The game revolves around the player being asked to make different decisions about how they manage their lives whilst going through a term at a fictional UK university. In the evaluation study, thirty-two participants played one of two versions of the Student-Life Balance game. In the first version, the player was invited to play as themselves; in the second, they took on the role of a character called Alex. In this talk, I will discuss how the design decisions we made supported (and failed to support) player reflection in different ways.

Jo Iacovides' Bio

Jo Iacovides is a Senior Lecturer in the Computer Science department at the University of York. Her research interests lie in Human Computer Interaction with a particular focus on understanding the role of learning within the player experience, and on investigating complex emotional experiences in the context of digital play. In addition, she is interested in exploring how games and playful technologies can be created for a range of purposes, such as education, citizen science, or wellbeing.

Location: H/G21