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Special Issue "Design Methodology for Educational Games"

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050). This special issue belongs to the section "Sustainable Education and Approaches".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (28 February 2022) | Viewed by 31671

Special Issue Editors

Department of Computer Languages and Systems, University of Granada, 18071 Granada, Spain
Interests: serious games; adaptive hypermedia systems; software evolution; games for old people
Department of Computer Languages and Systems, University of Granada, 18071 Granada, Spain
Interests: video games; narrative desing and storytelling; pervasive games; games for old people
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Motivation. From antiquity to the 21st century, games have been used to develop skills and learn concepts. In fact, play is the most natural way to learn, since, from the earliest age, children use this mechanism to learn new skills, relate to their environment, and explore the world around them. During the past few decades, digital games have become an integral part of people’s daily lives, as a recreational, cultural and social medium; but also as an educational instrument. Educational games are, together with health games, the most important field of application for serious games. Educators often use games to capture and maintain students’ attention and motivation. At the same time, educational games are one of the most widely used mechanisms for education throughout life. With this aim, a considerable number of research groups and companies have already developed educational games that have been successfully exploited in formal and informal educational contexts, demonstrating that this digital technology can enhance education. However, there is a plethora of issues related to designing these kinds of games that can be improved from a methodological perspective. For this reason, it is necessary to promote theoretical and practical knowledge which is pertinent to the design of educational games and game-based learning environments. 

Purpose. The aim of this Special Issue is to address all issues concerning the interaction between learning outcomes and the design of educational video games, and to promote the use of design methodologies to specify the game in order to meet learning objectives, while the game retains its essential character of fun. If the desired result is an educational game that truly creates value and affects learners’ behaviors long-term, its design must obey a systematic and structured process. The design of a video game involves making multiple decisions and interconnecting a large number of pieces: dynamics, mechanics, characters, scenarios and scenes, narratives, challenges, etc. In addition, when the game is educational, the integration of the educational content/activities within the ludic challenges is a crucial task. Poorly designed educational games will generate boring games or games with low educational power. The use of proper design methodologies is essential to assure the educational positive impact of the game. These methodologies must guarantee the appropriate ludic-educational balance and facilitate the integration of the educational team during the design process.

Scope. This Special Issue will feature new insights, research and practice on how to design, develop and use methodologies to create educational serious games. We welcome submission empirical, theoretical and review articles that are focused on improving the design of games used for learning. This purpose can be approached from different levels of abstraction. Consequently, reflections, theories, guidelines, patterns, conceptual frameworks, models, processes, procedures, techniques, etc. will be admitted. The objective is to join efforts to understand, specify, systematize and formalize the design process of an educational game, in order to facilitate this task for new developers, as well as to support the collaboration of the multidisciplinary team and achieve effective games (games keep players engaged and generate persistent learning). 

Dear Colleagues,

Educational games have shown their value in improving learning processes through the fun and motivation that they generate. Furthermore, since learning is integrated within a larger cognitive structure (the story of the game), the concepts/skills acquired are more persistent in the long term. The aim of this Special Issue is to promote the use of design methodologies to specify, formalize and enrich the design of these educational games. We welcome the submission of empirical, theoretical and review articles that are focused on improving the design of games used for learning. In this context, we are seeking contributions that advance the state of the art in design methodologies for educational games.

Topics of interest for this special issue include (but are not limited to):

  • Learner/player-centered design considerations (engagement, motivation, learning styles, behaviors and personalities in educational games, personalization, etc.)
  • Game-based learning theories and their design implications
  • Design guidelines specific for educational games
  • Conceptual frameworks to support the design and implementation of educational games
  • Game design models in education
  • Design patterns for educational games
  • Systematic processes to create effective educational games
  • Methodologies, techniques and technologies to improve the design of educational games
  • Methodologies to design the gameplay of an educational game
  • Methodologies to design the narrative/storytelling of an educational game
  • Systematic proposals for the design/evaluation of the emotional component of an educational game
  • Methodologies to design collaborative learning in games
  • Methodologies to integrate and deploy video games in classes
  • Methodologies to guarantee/evaluate the ludic-educational balance in the game
  • Methodologies used to design research prototypes and commercial educational games
  • Design of gamified intelligent tutoring systems
  • Design of gamified applications of e-learning, b-learning, u-learning, t-learning, etc.
  • Design of adaptive games for game-based learning
  • Design of educational games for vulnerable groups
  • Design of virtual worlds for game-based learning
  • Learning by designing video games
  • Evaluation studies for educational games (evaluation methodologies and evaluation design, models and metrics, evaluation tools, effectiveness, efficiency) 

The open submission window for full papers is from July 15, 2020 to September 30, 2021.

Other important dates are:

Acceptance deadline: May 15, 2021

Final copy deadline: June 15, 2021

Notification of acceptance: July 15, 2021

Expected publication: September/October, 2021 

We look forward to receiving your work. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Best regards,

Prof. Dr. Nuria Medina Medina
Prof. Dr. Francisco Luis Gutiérrez Vela
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2200 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • learning and technology
  • game-based learning
  • serious games
  • educational video games
  • designing of educational games
  • designing methodologies

Published Papers (10 papers)

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Article
Engaging Children in Story Co-Creation for Effective Serious Games
Sustainability 2021, 13(18), 10334; https://doi.org/10.3390/su131810334 - 16 Sep 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1724
Abstract
Despite a growing interest in player-centred methods for serious games, little is known on how to achieve this goal in practice when prospective users are children. Foundational questions remain unanswered, such as to which design dimensions children should contribute, and how and when [...] Read more.
Despite a growing interest in player-centred methods for serious games, little is known on how to achieve this goal in practice when prospective users are children. Foundational questions remain unanswered, such as to which design dimensions children should contribute, and how and when they should be engaged. This paper presents the methods and results of two studies that inspired Skies of Manawak, a game for developmental dyslexia remediation. The first study engaged 60 children (age 8–13) in 15 ideation workshops to highlight the story and aesthetics of the game. The second study engaged 258 children (age 8–11) in the comparative evaluation of the game demo with a commercial cognitive training system. The results proved the importance and complexity of the early involvement of children in design. Children strongly appreciated the demo, particularly the story their peers contributed to shaping. However, this story deviated from their desires in several critical dimensions. It had to reconcile gender stereotypes and the violence embedded in their narratives with the game’s purpose. An apparent conflict between designers and children’s values emerged, supporting the idea that children’s engagement in serious game design requires effective mediation to avoid compromising the purposes they intend to achieve. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Design Methodology for Educational Games)
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Article
The Development of Autonomous Student Learning Networks: Patterns of Interactions in an Open World Learning Environment for Teachers Exploring Teaching with and through Computer Science
Sustainability 2021, 13(16), 8696; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13168696 - 04 Aug 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1499
Abstract
This pilot case study sought to investigate patterns of interactions between learners and their instructor in a teacher education course called “Computer Science for Teachers”. This course was constructed to leverage aspects of open world game design elements in order to investigate the [...] Read more.
This pilot case study sought to investigate patterns of interactions between learners and their instructor in a teacher education course called “Computer Science for Teachers”. This course was constructed to leverage aspects of open world game design elements in order to investigate the effects of degrees of autonomy in gameplay/learning. This course was conducted in a specially built social learning platform based on Elgg software. Student interactions with the instructor and other students in this course were analyzed to determine the learning networks students constructed during each key learning activity as well as the epistemic spaces defined by these interactions. Descriptive statistics along with social network analysis (SNA) and epistemic network analysis (ENA) were used to investigate these data. The findings indicate that more traditional/less open world gaming type learning activities were associated with learning networks and epistemic spaces that were teacher-centered and narrower, while more open world gaming/high levels of autonomy (student-centric) learning activities were associated with learning networks that were highly decentralized and epistemic spaces that featured students asking and answering questions of/for one another. These findings were consistent with existing research into player behavior in open world type games and learner behavior in settings with high levels of autonomy support. Implications for further research are discussed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Design Methodology for Educational Games)
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Article
Soft Skills Training Program Based on Serious Games
Sustainability 2021, 13(15), 8582; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13158582 - 31 Jul 2021
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 3759
Abstract
In the 21st century, to be successful at the workplace and to get their first job, potential employees must have both “soft skills” (“know how to be”) and “hard skills” (“know how to do”). The proposed Soft Skills Training Program (SSTP) combines multiple [...] Read more.
In the 21st century, to be successful at the workplace and to get their first job, potential employees must have both “soft skills” (“know how to be”) and “hard skills” (“know how to do”). The proposed Soft Skills Training Program (SSTP) combines multiple serious games to train future employees in four key soft skills that are most demanded by companies: intrapersonal, interpersonal, personal social responsibility, and organizational sustainability. These four MacroSoftSkills are subdivided into eight MesoSoftSkills and 21 MicroSoftSkills to establish a complete multilevel structure. The development of soft skills is measured before and after the training using five appraisal questionnaires and tests. The pilot project, aimed at young university and vocational training students, lasted 9 weeks and proved to be effective since the proposed aggregate indicators of soft skills development increased in value, with the results being different across soft skill, gender, and educational center. The contents and length of some of the training sessions should, however, be adjusted to further develop and improve the program. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Design Methodology for Educational Games)
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Article
An Analysis of Game Design Elements Used in Digital Game-Based Language Learning
Sustainability 2021, 13(12), 6679; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13126679 - 11 Jun 2021
Cited by 12 | Viewed by 4382
Abstract
Considerable changes have occurred in language learning with the introduction of gameful approaches in the classroom and the increase in the popularity of language applications like Duolingo. A review of existing studies on such approaches to language learning shows that gamification tends to [...] Read more.
Considerable changes have occurred in language learning with the introduction of gameful approaches in the classroom and the increase in the popularity of language applications like Duolingo. A review of existing studies on such approaches to language learning shows that gamification tends to be the most popular approach. However, this popularity has been achieved at the expense of other gameful approaches, such as the use of digital games. To gain a clearer picture of the developments and gaps in the digital game-based learning research, this paper examines and categorizes observations about game elements used in published papers (n = 114) where serious and digital games were tested in language education settings. Game element analysis reveals that (1) the most frequently occurring elements in digital game-based language learning (DGBLL) are feedback, theme, points, narrative, and levels; (2) even though there was significant variance in the number of elements observed in DGBLL, both the bespoke and off-the-shelf games show similar high-frequency elements; (3) DGBLL has been applied to vocabulary acquisition and retention in many cases, but lacks implementation and testing in input and output language skills; (4) although there is some consensus on the most frequent elements, the design patterns of common elements according to age group and target language skill show considerable variance; (5) more research is needed on less common design elements that have shown promise in encouraging language acquisition. The synthesis of information from the collected papers contributes to knowledge regarding DGBLL application design and will help formulate guidelines and detect efficacy patterns as the field continues to grow. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Design Methodology for Educational Games)
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Article
Developing Educational Games for Preschool Children to Improve Dietary Choices and Exercise Capacity
Sustainability 2021, 13(6), 3340; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13063340 - 18 Mar 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1523
Abstract
This article describes the processes used to develop two different types of games used to improve the consumption of healthful foods and increase exercise in preschool Hispanic populations. They were created to meet criteria for effectiveness: age and culturally appropriate, fun, and foster [...] Read more.
This article describes the processes used to develop two different types of games used to improve the consumption of healthful foods and increase exercise in preschool Hispanic populations. They were created to meet criteria for effectiveness: age and culturally appropriate, fun, and foster family participation. The first, a pictorial bilingual food bingo game, emphasized vegetable and water consumption and the limitation of sugar-sweetened beverages. A population was selected to study the effectiveness in changing dietary habits, and we were able to show a significantly improved consumption of vegetables at home after using the game during the school year. Next, we developed bilingual video games used to teach nutrition and enhance exercise. The animal characters and narrative were created to allow immersion. The concept was that the animals needed the children’s help to obtain food, exercise tasks were assigned, and nutritional foods were discussed. Focus groups were reviewed for the effectiveness of the concept, ease of usability, and appropriateness for the target audience. The videos were tested in a summer session, and teachers concluded that after two viewings the children enhanced their exercise, bonded to the animals, and were answering the nutrition questions correctly. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Design Methodology for Educational Games)
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Article
Towards an Iterative Design for Serious Games
Sustainability 2021, 13(6), 3290; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13063290 - 17 Mar 2021
Cited by 11 | Viewed by 2428
Abstract
The design and development of Serious Games is a complex task, including a considerable risk of failure. Many attempts end up in non-fun, non-engaging games that fail to meet the purpose of improving education. Many different proposals have been published in the form [...] Read more.
The design and development of Serious Games is a complex task, including a considerable risk of failure. Many attempts end up in non-fun, non-engaging games that fail to meet the purpose of improving education. Many different proposals have been published in the form of design frameworks, with the aim of helping practitioners succeed. Although these frameworks define and explain relevant concepts and guidelines, there is lack of focus in iterative methodologies. These methodologies have proven valuable in other areas on engineering and are also used by commercial game designers. This work proposes the introduction of iterative design for Serious Games and presents an early stage methodology, along with an example of the core mechanic of a game and a prototype for learning the concept of slope of a line. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Design Methodology for Educational Games)
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Article
Kahoot! as a Tool to Improve Student Academic Performance in Business Management Subjects
Sustainability 2021, 13(5), 2969; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13052969 - 09 Mar 2021
Cited by 14 | Viewed by 2778
Abstract
The new framework for learning requires the use of new technologies, such as m-learning or game-based learning programs. Gamification using this type of applications has been implemented in higher education contexts, enhancing students’ satisfaction, motivation, and class attendance. The present study refers to [...] Read more.
The new framework for learning requires the use of new technologies, such as m-learning or game-based learning programs. Gamification using this type of applications has been implemented in higher education contexts, enhancing students’ satisfaction, motivation, and class attendance. The present study refers to the introduction of new technologies and gamification through the use of the application Kahoot!, with the main objective being to analyze the relationship between the use of this gamification tool and the students’ learning results, which are measured by their academic marks. The results show a positive relationship between students’ results on the Kahoot! tests and the student’s final mark. Additionally, we demonstrate that students’ academic results improve when Kahoot! is used as an evaluation tool, taking into account improved student efficiency and a lower amount of failed grades. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Design Methodology for Educational Games)
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Article
“Changing the Game—Neighbourhood”: An Energy Transition Board Game, Developed in a Co-Design Process: A Case Study
Sustainability 2020, 12(24), 10509; https://doi.org/10.3390/su122410509 - 15 Dec 2020
Cited by 8 | Viewed by 2816
Abstract
Communicating knowledge about energy transition is a challenge of sustainable development. Serious games are a possible approach to explain complex relationships and present them to citizens. This paper discusses the development process of the serious board game “Changing the Game—Neighbourhood”. Therefore, this paper [...] Read more.
Communicating knowledge about energy transition is a challenge of sustainable development. Serious games are a possible approach to explain complex relationships and present them to citizens. This paper discusses the development process of the serious board game “Changing the Game—Neighbourhood”. Therefore, this paper describes our approach of developing a serious game with co-designers in four phases and illustrates the process using an example. Doing so, the paper focus on two central challenges: (1) How can a serious game be developed for the energy transition, which keeps a balance between learning and playability? (2) How can co-design contribute to the development of a serious game? We found out that the use of prototypes and the influence of different stakeholders as informants, co-designers, and testers were crucial for the expansion of the learning content, the improvement of the gameplay, and the balancing of the difficulty level. In addition, the energy transition at the neighborhood level appeared to be a suitable topic for a serious game. During the development process, the serious game was already used for citizen participation, involving about 120 participants in 15 workshops. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Design Methodology for Educational Games)
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Article
Transforming a Theoretical Framework to Design Cards: LEAGUE Ideation Toolkit for Game-Based Learning Design
Sustainability 2020, 12(20), 8487; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12208487 - 14 Oct 2020
Cited by 8 | Viewed by 2471
Abstract
Educational game design is a complex process demanding multi-dimensional focus in a heterogeneous team to balance multiple aspects. The existing Game-based learning (GBL) frameworks detail the required knowledge but are hard to use in design practice. Conversely, card-based design tools are a lightweight [...] Read more.
Educational game design is a complex process demanding multi-dimensional focus in a heterogeneous team to balance multiple aspects. The existing Game-based learning (GBL) frameworks detail the required knowledge but are hard to use in design practice. Conversely, card-based design tools are a lightweight approach used to assist the early design phase. While several game design cards exist, none is specific for informing GBL knowledge. There is a lack of operationalizable approaches for designing learning games that integrate research based GBL knowledge into the actual ideation process. This paper presents a card-based GBL ideation toolkit to reduce the complexity of framework application and introduction of key GBL concepts in the design process as a tangible reference point to facilitate multi-dimensional focus, supporting idea generation, critical reflection, and creation of a shared understanding in the collaborative design process. The paper describes a ten-step process of transforming the LEAGUE framework into the LEAGUE toolkit (GBL ideation cards), an evaluation of the toolkit with design workshop participants, and design lessons detailing strengths and limitations to support GBL design practices. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Design Methodology for Educational Games)
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Systematic Review
Teachers’ Perception towards the Use of Quizizz in the Teaching and Learning of English: A Systematic Review
Sustainability 2021, 13(11), 6436; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13116436 - 05 Jun 2021
Cited by 17 | Viewed by 5825
Abstract
The teaching and learning of English as a second language have always been emphasized by the Ministry of Education (MOE). In the Malaysia Education Blueprint (2013–2025), among the many goals is to produce learners who can comprehend the language for various purposes, including [...] Read more.
The teaching and learning of English as a second language have always been emphasized by the Ministry of Education (MOE). In the Malaysia Education Blueprint (2013–2025), among the many goals is to produce learners who can comprehend the language for various purposes, including for information and enjoyment. Over the years, the teaching and learning of English have changed from conventional chalk-and-talk methods to modern methods that involve various platforms such as Quizizz, which is free and easy to use. This systematic literature review focuses on teachers’ perception on the use of Quizizz in the teaching and learning of English. Using the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Review and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) review methodology, a total of 45 articles related to the use of Quizizz in the English language classroom were identified from the ERIC and Google Scholar databases. Based on the articles from the year 2017 to 2021, the results show that the mixed-method research design was most used to gather teachers’ perspectives on the use of Quizizz in the teaching and learning of English. Overall, the results of this study show that Quizizz is accepted positively among teachers due to its effectiveness, feasibility, ease of use, and motivating nature for learners. As a suggestion for future research, more focus can be put on investigating the effectiveness of Quizizz from the perspective of parents and issues related to the implementation of gamified learning, such as Internet connection and device availability. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Design Methodology for Educational Games)
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