About this paper

Appears in:
Pages: 7803-7811
Publication year: 2015
ISBN: 978-84-606-5763-7
ISSN: 2340-1079

Conference name: 9th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 2-4 March, 2015
Location: Madrid, Spain


I. Karasavvidis

University of Thessaly (GREECE)
The belief that digital games can support the learning of academic content in unique ways has been firmly established (Gee, 2003; Dondlinger, 2007; Steinkuehler & Squire, in press). As opposed to mainstream entertainment games, serious games are characterized by the fact that their design primarily is driven by a learning focus rather than a recreational one (Mitgutsch, 2011). The surge of interest in serious games has led to the development of several models (de Freitas & Jarvis, 2009; Kankaanranta & Neittaanmaki, 2009; de Freitas & Maharg, 2011; Dunwell, de Freitas & Jarvis, 2011). The importance of design for digital games has been stressed (Hayes & Games, 2008). As learning is the primary target for serious games, the importance of principled design according to established learning principles is even more important in the case of serious games.

Mayer (2011a) argued that game designers need empirically established design principles that are based both on the science of instruction and on the science of learning. The major challenge game designers face is how to apply empirically proven learning principles to the practice of game design (Mayer, 2011a; Clark & Mayer, 2008). Employing such principles in the design of serious games is not straightforward and the need to support game designers in this direction has been stressed (Mayer, 2011b; Clark, Yates, Early & Moulton, 2010; O’Neil & Perez, 2008).

One of the fundamental challenges in developing a serious game concerns the relationship between learning content and the game, namely how the game mechanic is related to the learning mechanic. There are two primary ways of integrating academic content into games, extrinsic and intrinsic. While in the case of the former the narrative is unrelated to the game, in the case of the latter, the game cannot be defined without the narrative: game and content are tightly integrated. Even though this relationship is crucial for the design of serious games, relatively few studies have systematically explored it either on a theoretical (e.g. Malone, 1981; Rieber, 1996; Kafai, 2001) or on an empirical level (e.g. Adams, Mayer, MacNamara, Koenig & Wainess, 2012; Habgood & Ainsworth, 2011). The present paper aims to address this gap through and proposes a concrete conceptualization of linking game and learning mechanics.

More specifically, the paper aims to bridge different strands of game design approaches. Firstly, a formal tradition that examines games as systems comprised of elements and rules (Salen & Zimerman, 2004). Secondly, a tradition which considers games as a storytelling medium emphasizing narrative elements in terms of characters, environment, and conflict. Finally, a more learning-oriented tradition which explores how content is weaved into the game. The proposed model links objective, obstacles, and resources to rules, mechanics and content. The paper is concluded with a discussion of the potential of this conceptualization for developing more sound, empirically justifiable, game design practices.
author = {Karasavvidis, I.},
series = {9th International Technology, Education and Development Conference},
booktitle = {INTED2015 Proceedings},
isbn = {978-84-606-5763-7},
issn = {2340-1079},
publisher = {IATED},
location = {Madrid, Spain},
month = {2-4 March, 2015},
year = {2015},
pages = {7803-7811}}
AU - I. Karasavvidis
SN - 978-84-606-5763-7/2340-1079
PY - 2015
Y1 - 2-4 March, 2015
CI - Madrid, Spain
JO - 9th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
JA - INTED2015 Proceedings
SP - 7803
EP - 7811
ER -
I. Karasavvidis (2015) A HOLISTIC MODEL FOR SERIOUS GAME DESIGN, INTED2015 Proceedings, pp. 7803-7811.