Into the weeds: A critical analysis of game mechanics and learning goals in games for learning
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In the broadest scope, the purpose of this research is to expose the range and complexity of how educational games support learning. In a more narrowed scope, the purpose is to develop a method to help identify the qualities of educational video games that support learning. This is accomplished by analyzing the design of the game and the relationship between the in-game representations of learning goals and objectives with game mechanics and game play. In this research I analyze the fraction math game Refraction. Through a critical analysis of the game in a design walkthrough and player video data I reveal the complexity of the relationship between the type of game mechanics used support the intended learning objectives; demonstrating the tensions that arise between the two. This work focuses on three primary areas in relation to each other. It includes; 1) an account of the learning goals and objectives and how they are represented and incorporated into the game; 2) an analysis of the game itself; game mechanic(s) and how game play and game mechanics are represented and incorporated in relation to the learning goals and objectives (or not); 3) the player experience; player response to game play and learning goals. Analyzing the design of the game maps the implications for learning and can explain why some educational games are better than others. This research provides a foundation for evaluating the quality of games for learning, and demonstrates the design of educational games requires a hybrid design approach of both instructional and game design strategies.
- Education - Seattle