N. Thillainathan, J.M. Leimeister

Kassel University (GERMANY)
Serious games are applications combining educational content with gameplay by integrating learning objectives into a game-like environment. These games keep up the player's motivation to continue playing, and hence learning, throughout the game. So, the more fun the game is, the more the players will learn, since they use the game more often and intensively. This characteristic is highly sought after in educational contexts, making serious games a big asset for didactics, as they can also yield higher learning success than presenting material in a classical, non-computer based, way.

Tailoring serious games to specific learning objectives poses a challenge for educators, as existing serious games generally do not allow adapting the content to the educators’ own purposes. Therefore, to tailor serious game content, the development process must be either handed over to a professional game developer, which is associated with high cost, or the serious game must be developed by the educators themselves. However, only few people having the proper didactical background to tailor the learning objectives to the students’ need, also have the programming knowledge and game design skills allowing them to develop didactically and technically sound serious games. In this paper, we argue for an approach to enable educators without programming and game design skills to develop serious games adapted to their own learning content.

To address this problem we develop a tool allowing educators to visually design their serious games, which is based on visual programming and model driven development techniques that allow the generation of software from visual models. In this paper, we describe the first step towards this tool, the development of the underlying domain specific modeling language for the design of serious games. As the foundation of our design research, we have conducted an in-depth literature review to identify requirements for the development of serious games. In total, we have deducted 24 requirements for the development of serious games. Based on these requirements, we have derived the language elements for our domain specific modeling language, named Serious Games Logic and Structure Modeling Language (GLiSMo).

GLiSMo is a serious game modeling language, which allows designing the structure as well as the logic of a serious game. The structure describes how a serious game is built in terms of containing the layout of the game world, which characters and objects are included and how the player interaction takes place. Serious game logic modeling characterizes the behavior in terms of how does the game react on specific actions performed by the player, or events occurring during game play. The logic also describes the assessment of player actions and the game adaption according to the adaption results.

In this paper, we give a detailed description of GLiSMo and its language elements and show the feasibility and applicability of GLiSMo by presenting an exemplary serious game scenario modeled with our language. Future work includes the extension of the modeling language with more elements supporting different tasks and assessment methods. Furthermore GLiSMo must be evaluated with educators to determine its usability, by letting educators model serious games. In parallel a visual design tool for GLiSMo will be implemented, including a software code generating component, to model and develop serious games.