Matthew Sharritt, President of Situated Research, has an article titled “Designing Game Affordances to Promote Learning and Engagement” appearing in a special issue of the Cognitive Technology Journal. The issue, focusing on “Games for Good”, contains our article (starting on p. 43).
Applied research will be presented from a qualitative study that highlights high school students’ learning and use of several game interfaces, describing how particular affordances and game interface designs can encourage learning. Inductive generalizations from several ‘commercial’ games for good, including Civilization IV, Making History: The Calm & the Storm, and RollerCoaster Tycoon 3 describe patterns of learning among game players, showing how the design of in-game visualizations either led to success or failure to learn to use basic game controls. This analysis, inspired by ethnomethodology and grounded theory, sought patterns from gathered video data of student gameplay to highlight learning episodes and patterns of interface use. Patterns in affordance use (uptake of a perceived action potential) during collaborative gameplay reveal relationships among the video game interface and player behavior, giving focus to how an interface design can guide game player interaction. In line with Csikszentmihalyi’s concept of flow, a proper balance of difficulty (between feelings of boredom, and too much difficulty) encouraged player engagement and learning. As evidenced in transcripts of collaborative gameplay, feelings of frustration with a game interface often led students to abandon in-game tasks, as did boredom with a given task. However, frustrated goal achievement often led to the re-negotiation of in-game strategies: an indication of engagement. Additionally, games that presented information using multiple channels encouraged learning, as did the use of specific visualizations such as the animation of in-game objects. Finally, a discussion of the affordances created by different game designs will offer educators and game designers guidelines to encourage motivated gameplay. [Read the full article]
To cite the article:
Sharritt, M. J. (2010). Designing game affordances to promote learning and engagement. Cognitive Technology Journal, 14(2)-15(1), pp. 43-57.
The journal editor has asked us to share information on this journal as he is opening up submissions to a broader community of researchers (view the brochure). Feel free to share with anyone you think might be interested.