Sofia University St Kl. Ohridski (BULGARIA)
About this paper:
Appears in: EDULEARN15 Proceedings
Publication year: 2015
Pages: 6943-6950
ISBN: 978-84-606-8243-1
ISSN: 2340-1117
Conference name: 7th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 6-8 July, 2015
Location: Barcelona, Spain
In last two decades, educational video games have been proven as a modern platform able to enhance substantially traditional e-learning in K12 and higher education. Many recent studies demonstrate using such video games tends to be effective in helping students to obtain new knowledge and to develop useful practical skills; however, lacking free tools and platforms for creation and customization of educational games hampers their mass usage. The paper presents an open software platform for easy creation and flexible customization of video games for teaching students in any subject based on 3D mazes and embedded mini-games for assessment or fostering visual skills and creativity. Teachers can construct easily customisable mazes in their educational domain as a non-restricted hierarchical graph allowing non-linear student gameplay and, next, customize maze nodes using a property editor by shaping each node as they like and by adding multimedia content to it. Playing such maze games, students can learn new ideas, concepts and theories while exploring the customized 3D maze at each hierarchy level for finding the final maze node which may contain some special gift for them. They are given a choice of which branch of the current node to follow making the game still interesting when replaying it. Players pay for transitions between maze nodes by their virtual currency account. When at a given level within the maze a player starts running out of currency, he/she has to choose playing one of several available mini-games embedded into the maze and customized by the teacher for that level. While successfully playing such mini-game, the player earns virtual currency in order to proceed with exploring the educational maze until reaching the final goal. Thus, the progress of given player in exploring the maze depends on his/her navigation choices done when leaving maze nodes and, as well, on successful finish of the mini-games play. At the same time, depending on the type of the embedded mini-game, he/she may develop fine-motor brain skills, visual and spatial thinking, context-based reasoning and creativity.

The reported results of first field trial are very promising in terms of high appreciation by master students of the created 3D maze video games. Results obtained from the first questionnaire show that mazes (combined with quizzes and other games) can be used as universal tool for didactic game-based learning - the player navigates through a branching tree designed by the educator for given domain and chooses on his/her own how to move within the story. The field trial maze game contains two embedded mini-games – one for solving 3D dynamic quizzes and another for ordering moving images from the famous illustrated zoomed sequence of Istvan Banyai. Both the mini-games may be customized for given level of the educational zoom allowing the students to learn easier and having much more fun than in traditional drill-and-practice games. On other hand, the platform represents a free tool for teachers to create their own mazes with customizable embedded mini-games for any of the maze levels in an easy and truly declarative way, without any need of programming skills.
Video games, game-based learning, maze, customizable.