How to Tailor Educational Maze Games: The Student’s Preferences
- Which characteristics in the student’s model should be considered to personalize educational video games?
- What are the student preferences regarding the personalization of educational video games?
- How should the process of personalization of educational video games be organized?
2. Related Works
2.1. Educational Video Games
- Implementing personalization of the learning content and adaptation of gameplay of the games depending on the various characteristics and behaviors of players/learners, which results in improving the design of the educational video games and improving the user experience of players/learners in games .
- Specialized platforms for creating educational video games to support and facilitate design processes and create educational video games, and within these platforms all these processes are realized .
2.2. Personalized Game-Based Learning
2.3. Modeling of Student Features
- Stereotype user modeling: The idea is that if users use some systems similarly, usually they have similar sets of features, so they can be grouped into categories called stereotypes. A user’s description involves a single or a combination of several predefined stereotypes. This approach has the advantage of deriving sufficient information for modeling from little evidence. However, precise overlay models should be used for modeling fine-grained users’ characteristics.
- Overlay user modeling: This approach usually is used for modeling student knowledge and skills as a subset of subject domain knowledge, which is ingrained into components (e.g., topics, concepts, knowledge elements, and outcomes), representing pieces of declarative domain knowledge. The main benefit of this model is the flexibility, precision, and the ability dynamically to reflect the development of users’ characteristics. However, there is still a need to build a precise formal domain model, which can be a difficult task.
3. Student-Centered Personalization of Educational Maze Games in APOGEE
- Demographics, preferences, and goals of the students, which are self-reported in a questionnaire with predefined values.
- Learning and playing styles derived from students’ answers on specially designed online questionnaires.
- In-game measured performance and efficiency, calculated using parameters measured during gameplay.
3.1. Student Model
- User: static features comprise general demographic and user data (e.g., age, gender, and identification), while dynamic features reflect an aggregated score of the game and gathered data about the emotional and arousal state of the user during gameplay.
- Learner: static features concern specific data necessary for personalization purposes (e.g., knowledge level, learning goals, and learning style), while dynamic features represent in-game achievements when solving built-in mini-games (e.g., acquired knowledge, score, and efficacy).
- Player: The static features regard playing style and playing goals used for gameplay tailoring. Dynamic features (e.g., collected objects, gained points, speed, and efficiency) are the base for dynamic difficulty customization of particular gameplay parameters.
3.2. The Process of Personalization of Maze Video Games
3.3. Student-Centered Personalization of Educational Mini-Games
- Question games: Answering short questions with open or closed answers. The complexity of the questions, the number of suggested answers, and the hints can be customized. The following games are included in this group:
- Question to unlock the door to another room (“Open Sesame!”) (see Figure 4a). When approaching the door, the question appears with predefined answers, from which the player has to choose the correct one. Depending on the learner’s knowledge level, the difficulty and content of the question are pre-set.
- A quiz of several consecutive questions for passing to another hall, at several levels, with various types of questions for testing the knowledge acquired in the game. In this mini-game, the difficulty of the questions and the passing threshold can be personalized.
- Games for searching or matching objects: Aiming at finding game objects according to specific criteria. Personalization can be performed by changing the number and size of the searched object or word. This group includes the following puzzle games:
- Search for translucent objects in the maze halls (“I see you”) (see Figure 4b). The type of objects is related to the learning matter in the hall, and the objects found can be used in other mini-games. Depending on the player’s characteristics, the objects’ size, type, and number can be changed.
- Search for hidden objects covered by larger ones (“Find me!”). Analogically to the previous game, the objects are related to the learning material and can be used in subsequent puzzles. Here, the objects’ size, type, and number can differ.
- Search for pairs of identical or matching cards in multiple gridded cards (“Memory”). The game develops memory and helps the player to remember analogies. The number of cards and the matching criterion (two identical images; image and description; or related objects) can be personalized in this game.
- Word search in a grid of letters (“Word soup”) (see Figure 4c). Searched words are terms from the learning material that can be positioned in different directions. The grid size, the words’ length, and their orientation (horizontally, vertically, or by diagonals) can be changed according to the age and knowledge of the player.
- Sorting or classification games: Games for sorting or arranging different objects, including puzzles and letters. The number and content of the arranged items can be customized. This group contains the following mini-games:
- Sorting objects into groups according to a given feature (“Divide & Conquer”). The objects involved in this mini-game can be obtained after playing a game from the previous group or obtained specifically for grouping. The sorting criteria, the number, and the type of objects can be personalized according to the difficulty required and the student’s age and gender.
- Put in order a didactic image, a “2D puzzle” related to the learning matter. In this mini-game, personalization is carried out by image outlines, turning, and dimensions of the puzzle pieces.
- Action games: The user needs to interact with the game objects to finish the mini-game successfully. The object number and possible choices can be personalized. The educational maze contains two action games:
- Shooting at inanimate objects moving in the hall (first-person shooter, or FPS). The player must hit flying balloons with attached objects (artifacts) related to the learning material. The obtained artifacts can be used in other mini-games, such as the above-described one (separating objects into groups). Personalization is carried out by changing the balloon’s volume, velocity, range, and direction of movement.
- Rolling balls on the floor (“Roll a ball”) (see Figure 4d). The player has to move a ball to a target area on an image or a given object (e.g., a ring), matching the label above them. The personalization can be performed by the number of balls and their possible end positions.
4. Survey Results
- Section 1. The first five questions aim to define the profile of the survey participants.
- Section 2. The next group of seven questions helps gather information on the respondents’ preferred types of mini-games. Their responses are graded on a Likert scale from one (definitely no) to five (definitely yes).
- Section 3. The third section contains 16 questions to determine the learning style. Here, the popular VARK model  was applied that divides learners into four main groups according to their best way of perceiving information. Visual learners prefer to see the information on images, diagrams, or video clips, and the Aural persons learn easier by hearing the educational material in lectures and discussing it. The Read/Write type prefers to read the didactic content from a textbook, take notes, and make lists with the significant points, while Kinesthetic learners remember better by experimenting or movement activities related to the material learned.
- Section 4. The last section also contains 16 questions to determine the playing styles of respondents. These were formulated based on ADOPTA’s 40-question survey , which determines four playing styles defined on the top of the Kolb theory for experiential learning : Competitor (focused on action, shooting, and competition), Dreamer (enjoys guided gameplay, skill mastering, and reflection), Logician (likes logic, analyses, and contextual thinking), and Strategist (fond of long-term thinking, decision making, and planning strategies). To avoid participants being bored by the lengthy questionnaire, the number of questions was reduced to 16 with responses on the five-level Likert scale. It is essential to clarify that this reduction in the number of questions preserves the reliability of the assessment of the playing style.
5.1. Discourse on Findings Regarding the Research Questions
5.2. Limitations of the Study
6. Conclusions and Future Works
- Demographics, preferences, and goals.
- Learning and playing styles.
- In-game measured performance and efficiency.
Institutional Review Board Statement
Informed Consent Statement
Data Availability Statement
Conflicts of Interest
Appendix A. Questionnaire
Appendix A.1. Section 1
- What is your age (in years)?
- What is your sex?
- What is (or has been) your average success at school?
- Very good
- How many hours a week do you play computer video games?
- I do not play
- 0–1 h
- 1–5 h
- 5–10 h
- More than 10 h per week
- How often do you play computer games related to the learning material?
- I do not play
- 0–1 h per week
- 1–5 h per week
- 5–10 h per week
- More than 10 h per week
Appendix A.2. Section 2
- The educational video games you would like to play, what should they be directed at?
- Initially acquaintance with the teaching theme
- Performing experiments on the teaching topic
- A detailed study of the teaching topic
- Testing knowledge on the teaching topic
- The revision and summarization of the teaching topic
- Links between the teaching theme of the game and other study topics
- It is a good idea to include the following types of mini-games in the educational video maze games:
- Answer a question to unlock the door to another hall in the maze (“Open Sesame!”)
- Answer a few questions from the Game Learning Area (“Quiz”)
- Solving a 2D puzzle with an educational image (“2D puzzle”)
- Solving a puzzle with words—for example, to find words from the study area of the game in a table of letters (“Word soup”)
- Rolling balls marked with text/picture to the correct objects or positions on the floor map (“Roll a ball”)
- Discovering and collecting visible translucent objects/objects (“I see you”)
- Discovering and collecting invisible objects/objects hidden in larger visible objects by moving large objects (“Find me!”).
- Grouping of objects/objects by a given sign (“Divide & Conquer”)
- Memory Development Game—In a matrix of hidden words/pictures to find those who are two-by-two identical (“Memory”).
- Shooting on moving inanimate objects, such as balloons with an attached study object (First Person Shooter, or FPS)
- What other learning mini-games and/or tasks would you offer to include in the educational maze game? (Tell us your opinion in free text)
- Rank in importance how to select learning materials in educational video games:
- Selected according to the player’s age
- Selected to the player’s level of knowledge in the study area of the game (eg beginner, advanced and expert)
- Selected according to the interests and goals of the player (Initial familiarization with the topic, detailed study, testing of knowledge, and so on)
- Selected according to the predominant learning style of the learner (Visual, Aural, Read/Write, and Kinaesthetic)
- Rank in importance how to automatically adjust the difficulty of playing educational video games:
- According to the emotions/feelings and excitement of the player
- According to the player’s playing result
- According to the prevailing playing style of the player (Competitor, Dreamer, Logician, and Strategist)
- Would you play an educational game once again at the same level of difficulty to improve the result for this level?
- Would you play an educational game at the next level of difficulty?
Appendix A.3. Section 3
Appendix A.4. Section 4
- When I play, I often take great risks and rely mainly on my intuition (in my inner voice) instead of thinking and analysis.
- I want to be able to play at a certain level in the game until I master it enough.
- I like the logical approaches to analysing the actions in the game to come up with successful tactics and playing strategies.
- I want to solve practically complex problems in the game on time, easily and in the most effective way.
- I prefer to solve problems spontaneously, relying on my composure in critical situations and “sample and error” methods, without much considering or discussing the consequences of one or the other solution.
- I don’t like time limitations and I want to observe and think as long as I need.
- I study the complexity of every rule, as well as the facts and actions in the game, to use them in a reasonable and most useful way.
- I prefer to start actions in the game only with reasonable expectations for practical results and benefits.
- I prefer to start actively playing as soon as possible without reading instructions or planning in advance.
- I prefer to watch, listen to and consider the arguments of others to clarify the script of the game before making decisions and starting playing actively.
- When discussing with other players, I do not trust the arguments and assumptions of others, but prefer to check and test everything myself.
- I think long-term and plan such game strategies that can quickly achieve practical results.
- In the team game, I am considered the most active player, and in discussions, I prefer to talk and share my achievements with other players.
- When I play, I show what I feel, and in the discussions, I participate less than the others.
- I like to be recognized by others as a thinking, consistent and fair player.
- I have good organizational skills and I want to command and lead the team in the game process.
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|Profile||Boys||Girls||K12 Students||University Students|
|Roll a ball||3.23077||1.34676||0.21294||3.16981||1.26697||0.17403||3.05556||1.06756||0.17551||3.24074||1.38639||0.18694|
|I see you||3.41026||1.27151||0.20104||3.39623||1.30590||0.17938||3.22222||1.22150||0.20081||3.50000||1.27012||0.17126|
|Divide & Conquer||3.84615||1.18185||0.18687||3.84906||1.11625||0.15333||3.32432||1.22597||0.20155||4.18519||0.93312||0.12582|
|Educational Materials in Video Games Should Be Tailored Based on:|
|Statistics||Age||Initial Knowledge||Learning Goals||Learning Style|
|Learning Style||Playing Style|
|Quiz||0.13541||0.31965 **||0.24366 *||0.21416 *||−0.02687||0.06410||0.00110||−0.09324|
|2D puzzle||0.45340 ****||0.37464 ***||0.25499 *||0.22134 *||0.10702||0.35769 ***||0.32623 **||0.29900 **|
|Word soup||0.28891 **||0.26010 *||0.17173||0.26171 *||−0.03246||0.20510 *||0.33249 **||0.25796 *|
|Roll-a-ball||0.49104 ****||0.21975 *||0.18092||0.30027 **||−0.05383||0.23836 *||0.30194 **||0.28186 **|
|I see you||0.27400 **||0.15509||0.33271 **||0.36235 ***||0.04655||0.21694 *||0.32653 **||0.18531|
|Find me||0.15645||0.16660||0.17388||0.26215 *||0.17911||0.05385||0.10386||0.03895|
|Divide & Conquer||0.17675||0.07566||0.11695||0.35028 ***||0.05816||0.06690||0.24277 *||0.08856|
|Memory||0.27721 **||0.06770||0.08237||0.25673 *||0.04362||0.03626||0.16390||0.20191 *|
|FPS||0.26740 **||0.26740 **||0.22373 *||0.24859 *||0.08085||0.16789||0.11203||0.24433 *|
|Learning Style||Playing Style|
|Replay at the same level||0.12995||−0.06889||0.10200||0.08292||0.07951||0.24940 **||0.33031 ***||0.31136 ***|
|Play at a higher level||0.07820||−0.02088||0.09932||0.07082||0.01028||0.19579||0.39762 ****||0.39654 ****|
|Learning Style||Playing Style|
|Visual||1.00000||0.48089 ****||0.47543 ****||0.37190 ***||0.02744||0.24279 *||0.19545||0.27290 *|
|Auditory||1.00000||0.34884 ***||0.45241 ****||0.00437||0.10707||0.02441||0.14558|
|R/W||1.00000||0.26148 *||−0.13917||0.20318||0.21070 *||0.22035 *|
|Dreamer||1.00000||0.34665 ***||0.27263 *|
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Terzieva, V.; Bontchev, B.; Dankov, Y.; Paunova-Hubenova, E. How to Tailor Educational Maze Games: The Student’s Preferences. Sustainability 2022, 14, 6794. https://doi.org/10.3390/su14116794
Terzieva V, Bontchev B, Dankov Y, Paunova-Hubenova E. How to Tailor Educational Maze Games: The Student’s Preferences. Sustainability. 2022; 14(11):6794. https://doi.org/10.3390/su14116794Chicago/Turabian Style
Terzieva, Valentina, Boyan Bontchev, Yavor Dankov, and Elena Paunova-Hubenova. 2022. "How to Tailor Educational Maze Games: The Student’s Preferences" Sustainability 14, no. 11: 6794. https://doi.org/10.3390/su14116794