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A Meta-Analysis of Use of Serious Games in Education over a Decade

A Meta-Analysis of Use of Serious Games in Education over a Decade Hindawi International Journal of Computer Games Technology Volume 2019, Article ID 4797032, 8 pages https://doi.org/10.1155/2019/4797032 Review Article A Meta-Analysis of Use of Serious Games in Education over a Decade Yu Zhonggen Department of English Studies, Faculty of Foreign Studies, Beijing Language and Culture University, China Correspondence should be addressed to Yu Zhonggen; 401373742@qq.com Received 16 October 2018; Revised 28 December 2018; Accepted 16 January 2019; Published 3 February 2019 Academic Editor: Michael J. Katchabaw Copyright © 2019 Yu Zhonggen. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. It seems necessary to review the literature to explore the effectiveness of serious games in education, since the number of studies on serious games is surging up. iTh s study systematically reviewed the literature within around a recent decade. eTh trend of the number of publications related to use of serious games in education was firstly clarified based on the data retrieved from major databases. Secondly, various factors were determined that influenced the effect of serious game assisted learning. eTh major section identified both advantages and disadvantages of use of serious games in education. Use of serious games in medical science has been rising in a recent decade, which is thus highlighted in this study. Attitudes toward use of serious games in education were explored, as well as the new development of use of serious games in education. Future theoretical and practical exploration might need interdisciplinary cooperation. 1. Introduction One of the reasons for the effectiveness of serious games in education may be their influence on learners’ mood. The past decade has been witnessing fast development of Gaming, as an entertainment outlet, plays an important information technologies, together with rapid development role in mood formation such as sadness, happiness, and of serious games. With the increasing application of technol- anger [1]. Effective serious games attempt to form posi- ogy assisted education, there is an urgent need to investigate tive mood in order to encourage players to continue the the effect of serious game assisted learning. An increasing play, leading to increased interest in gameplay, as well number of studies on serious games are also emerging, which as better academic performances. Happy and active play- needs to be reviewed to show future research directions and ers can certainly be absorbed in serious game assisted reveal the features of successful serious games. Designs of learning. serious games and their application to education are also in This review study, therefore, aims to find out the main need of the review of literature, which helps designers and features of successful serious games and put forward con- teachers to better their professional work in the future. structive suggestions for designers via reviewing significant Dieff rent from entertaining games, serious games are works in the recent decade. We attempt to answer the following research questions: (1) What is the trend of the designed for an educational rather than an entertaining purpose [1]. Serious games are referred to as entertaining number of publications in a recent decade? (2) What are tools with a purpose of education, where players cultivate the factors influencing the effect of serious game assisted their knowledge and practice their skills through overcoming learning? (3) What are the positive findings in use of serious numerous hindrances during gaming. Players’ performances games in education? (4) What are the negative n fi dings in are scored during the gaming process [2]. In case players use of serious games in education? (5) Is use of serious overcome a hindrance, they will obtain some awards such as gaming effective in medical education? (6) What attitudes scores, advancement, and power. Educational elements can do learners/players hold toward use of serious games in education? (7) What is the development of use of serious be integrated into the gameplay, which will be subconsciously acquired by the players during the gaming process. games in education? 2009 2 International Journal of Computer Games Technology Figure 1: A histogram of related publications ranging from 2009 to 2018 2. Research Methods medicine, emergency medicine, ergonomics, telecommuni- cations, water resources, and other unrelated disciplines. In order to answer the research questions, we obtained After this, the publications were reduced to 76 peer reviewed 792 results including 729 articles, 49 reviews, 15 proceeding articles indexed in SCI-EXPANDED, SSCI, and A&HCI. papers, 7 editorial comments, and 5 meeting abstracts by Then two researchers independently read the remaining searching “Web of Science” (involving six databases, i.e., articles to exclude those unrelated to serious game assisted SCI-EXPANDED, SSCI, A&HCI, ESCI, CCR-EXPANDED, learning. Both of them reached an agreement on 39 articles and IC) with the subjects “serious game” AND/OR “serious to be included in the review analysis. gaming” AND/OR “education” AND/OR “learning”. The quality of publications was assessed by a 5-point 3. Results criterion [3]: (1) quality of research design for answering research questions. The quality is classified into “high” if All the selected papers were systematically reviewed and the study is conducted through a rigid design, e.g., com- rigidly analyzed, whose results were shown below. bining quantitative with qualitative research; The quality is considered “medium” if the study is carried out through 3.1. eTh Trend of the Number of Publications. The number a less rigid design, e.g., a quasi-experimental design; the of publications was then analyzed using the tool in “Web of quality is reduced to “low” if the study is loosely designed, Science”, whose result is shown in Figure 1. e.g., self-report description; (2) appropriate methodology or As shownin Figure 1, the year 2009 beganto witness analysis; (3) generalizability of the results; (4) relatedness publications about serious game assisted education. With of conceptual framework, context, sample, and measures to time elapsing, the number of publications steadily rises research questions; and (5) reliability of n fi dings. Each of the until the peak in 2017. The year 2018 also predicts a large selected publications was scored based on the above criteria number of publications since the data were obtained in and reviewed by two researchers. The interrater reliability for September 2018. Far more publications may be waiting to be the scoring was .83, reaching high consistency between two published and indexed in “Web of Science”. The reasons for raters in terms of quality of papers. The papers with high the increasing number of publications should be explored, quality were selected in this study. among which influencing factors in serious games assisted By perusing titles and abstracts, we initially screened education should be rstl fi y discussed. those unrelated to serious game assisted learning. Then 351 publications remained. The second screening excluded 49 reviews, 15 proceeding papers, 7 editorial comments, 3.2. Factors Inuen fl cing the Eec ff t of Serious Game Assisted and 5 meeting abstracts, after which 275 articles survived. Learning. Numerous factors may exert more or less influ- The third screening excluded those indexed in ESCI, CCR- ences on the effect of serious game assisted learning. They EXPANDED, and IC because these databases were not might include the perceived usefulness of the game and considered main sources to retrieve highly quality serious the interaction of students with colleagues, instead of effort game related papers. We also excluded those in the fields expectancy [4]. It has been widely accepted that serious of computer science sowa ft re engineering, computer science games, as a tool integrated into many courses, are playing artificial intelligence, computer science information systems, an important role in learning and helping learners focus on computer science theory methods, engineering environ- the target subject. Perceived usefulness, ease of use, and goal ments, environmental sciences, communication, critical care clarity were indicators of satisfaction and effectiveness in use International Journal of Computer Games Technology 3 of serious games, which was conrfi med by a survey and a Types of serious games and age of learners are also group of participants. When learners clearly predict the goals influencing factors that have been academically explored. andease ofuse,they tendto focus on the contents and enjoy Learners at a younger age performed significantly better in serious game assisted learning than those at an older age [1]. themselves [5]. In addition, serious games should be appropriate for var- Games with different features also exert different influences ious learners and target contents. Those catering for dieff rent on learning effects. Open ended serious games improved students’ specific skills and better their learning performance learner needs and applicable in different academic contexts could more likely achieve success than those failing to do via problem solving than closed games [12]. so. Relationships between learning attributes and gaming mechanics, an important inu fl encing factor, should therefore 3.3. Positive Findings in Use of Serious Games in Education. be considered and implemented by teachers, which could There are a huge number of findings in serious game assisted be integrated into teaching plans and learning process. This learning, most of which are supportive, coupled with a relationship played an important role in improving learning few negative results. Serious gaming immersed learning effectiveness and in enhancing learning experience [6]. could facilitate learners' holistic understanding of scientific Specific influencing factors have recently been explored. conceptions due to the improved performances on science Serious game assisted learning was greatly influenced by and the prolonged retention of science knowledge. Gaming vfi e factors, i.e., backstory and production, realism, artificial immersion was also positively correlated with performance intelligence and adaptivity, interaction, and feedback and of science learning [7]. However, in both serious game and debriefing. Backstory and production refer to the information nongame assisted learning approaches, no significant differ- about the effect of serious games. Realism of serious games ences in undesirable aspects (e.g., complaint or disturbance means the degree to which the game could meet users’ that influences other players’ gameplay experience) were expectation. Artificial intelligence and adaptivity refer to an revealed among teachers and learners [13]. approach using computing algorithms to facilitate the user- Serious games proved effective in enhancing cognitive game interaction in order to provide service to cater for users’ abilities and aec ff t, as well as pleasant mood, in general individual needs. The interaction in a serious game includes learning. Through analyzing 46 empirical studies, serious user-user, user-game, and user-instructor mutual commu- games were reported helpful for learners to obtain cognitive nication. Feedback refers to the evaluation of the serious abilities, and increase positive aeff ct of learning [14]. Serious game, as well as the response of the game to users. Debriefing games could increase players’ overall pleasant mood and means communication sessions when information is shared their happiness level based on their self-reports. Players and examined after the gameplay. Learners should seriously felt happier with serious game assisted learning and female consider these factors to achieve success in learning, and players achieved more success in this learning approach. designers of serious games should also integrate these factors into the game production [7]. Educational technologies, such as serious games and Gaming easiness and instruction were also demonstrated mobile applications, improved learners’ academic achieve- influencing factors. Easiness in use and gaming instructive- ments and encourage their participation in learning activities. ness were more important factors than enjoyment to encour- Educational or serious games can act as effective tools to age gameplay participation. Enjoyment and motivation were improve teaching in the sciences [14]. Serious games were thus not reported as influencing factors. Although enjoyment deemed as an effective pedagogical medium to cater for and motivation were positively correlated, no signicfi ant learners’ various requirements and expectations. Despite the gain in learning outcomes was revealed due to both factors fact that no significant differences in academic achievements [8]. were found; signicfi antly more positive attitudes toward Surprises could also be considered an important factor serious game assisted learning were revealed compared with that influences the effectiveness of use of serious games traditional paper-based learning. Serious game assisted ped- in education. Surprises in serious games improved learn- agogy could provide flexible learning for different learners ing effect through stimulating cognitive structures. Surprise who could move beyond the limitations of traditional learn- might bring benefits to learners at an advanced level in ing [15]. Aided with serious games and other educational terms of proportional reasoning skills. us Th narrativeness technologies, learners could choose time and venue they that produced surprises could be used to facilitate reasoning feel convenient to learn, without being limited to ossified skills and improve learning effect [9]. Surprising events could schedules and places as in traditional learning. reveal the potential of serious games, where learners could Serious game-based learning proved significantly more obtain significantly more knowledge structures and foster effective than the nongame-based learning. Learners were more in-depth learning than those without surprising events engaged in serious game-based learning significantly longer [10]. than the nongame-based learning. In the former learning Except for the learning contexts on campus, workplace approach, learners and teachers were significantly more moti- out of campus was also a concern of scholars. In the business vated, desirable, helpful, and less hindered compared with the settings, the influencing factors in a serious game included latter. It was empirically evidenced that learners who learnt instructional content, game dimensions, game cycle, debrief- through playing serious games were scored signicfi antly ing, perceived educational value, transfer of learnt skills, and higher than those who did not learn through gameplay intrinsic motivation [11]. although significant differences in knowledge tests were not 4 International Journal of Computer Games Technology Table 1: A summary of inu fl encing factors, positive and negative findings. Items Findings (1) Perceived usefulness of the game and the interaction of students with colleagues [4]; (2) Goals and ease of use [5]; (3) Relationships between learning attributes and gaming mechanics [6]; (4) Backstory and production, realism, artificial intelligence and adaptivity, interaction, and feedback and debriefing Inu fl encing [7]; factors (5) Gaming easiness and instruction [8]; Surprises [9, 10]; (6) Instructional content, game dimensions, game cycle, debriefing, perceived educational value, transfer of learnt skills and intrinsic motivation [11]; (7) Types of serious games and age of learners [1]; (8) Games with different features [12]. Serious games were reported effective to: (1) facilitate learners' holistic understanding of scientific conceptions [7], (2) obtain cognitive abilities, (3) increase positive affect of learning and improve teaching in the sciences [14], Positive (4) provide flexible learning [15], findings (5) improve learning outcomes [16], (6) facilitate socio-cultural learning in terms of cognitive and motivational effects [21] and team opinions [17], (7) improve cross cultural communication competence [11], (8) improve script collaboration based professional learning and learner satisfaction [18]. (1) eTh nature of serious games negatively influenced the relationship between mental workload and learning eeff ct Negative [22]. findings (2) No significant differences in in-depth learning were found among learners [23]. (3) Some serious games aggravated the mental workload and decreased the learning effectiveness [24]. revealed [16]. Serious games were also reported effective in social interactions, and cultural communication, negative the eld fi of architecture education. results could not be ignored. Previous use of serious games obtained positive results in architecture education. Architecture involves architectural 3.4. Negative Findings in Use of Serious Games in Education. art and technology, as well as the aesthetic and practical Some negative results were, however, also found especially in aspects of architectural art. Although they are clearly dif- terms of the correlations between mental workload and learn- ferent, they are closely related, and their components vary ing effect. The nature of serious games negatively influenced greatly with the specific circumstances and buildings. Under- the relationship between mental workload and learning effect graduate architecture majors include architecture, urban and [22]. In case the serious game makes the mental workload rural planning, landscape architecture, etc. Use of serious heavier, the learning effect tends to be negatively influenced, games in architecture education could enhance students’ and vice versa. It is therefore no wonder to find that, in the practical and theoretical knowledge, which was reported by serious game “Peacemaker” (Impact Games 2007) assisted many students majoring in architecture. learning, no significant differences in in-depth learning were In the context of business, use of serious games was found among learners [23]. This type of serious game might also effective in improving cross cultural communication have aggravated the mental workload and thus decreased competence between people from different countries [11]. the learning effectiveness since the mental workload such as Game-based learning was also eeff ctive in social learning in the change of Heart Rate significantly indicated the learning favor of team opinions [17], as well as in script collaboration outcomes at a certain difficulty level [24]. based professional learning and improvements on learner In order to clearly present a scenario and enhance the satisfaction [18]. This was in line with the findings of another readability of the paper, influencing factors and positive and meta-analytical review that computer games create a complex negative findings are summarized in Table 1. learning situation where instructional support (e.g., scripted collaboration) is needed to facilitate cognitive learning [19]. 3.5. Use of Serious Gaming in Medical Education. Ahuge Serious game use could also improve social interaction number of studies have been devoted to professional fields, abilities by integrating metacognitive strategies into gaming, e.g., medical education. Serious games in the eld fi of medical leading to better academic achievements and learning activity education have been widely used due to their positive engagement. It could also improve writing skills via thinking outcomes in learning and learner participation. Usability, aloud and modeling in the gaming process [20]. motivation, flow state, aec ff tive engagement, and learning Game-based learning was also evidenced effective in were determined, which revealed that serious games were sociocultural learning in terms of cognitive and motivational frequently used with a high level of engagement. However, the effects [21]. Despite the fact that the majority of studies negative aec ff t in the use of serious games increased, followed positively evaluated the effect of serious games on learning, by a decreased negative aec ff t in physiotherapists and a rise in International Journal of Computer Games Technology 5 learner positive affect after the prototype [25]. The disabled Significant gender differences were found, where females had could also benefit from use of serious games in learning. significantly higher perceptions of negative affective quality than males. When serious games were generally addressed, A framework involving three major components, i.e., learners could answer questions about specific games in more learner profiling, learning adaptation, and learning evalua- detail. Female held a significantly more positive attitude and tion, was designed for disabled people to engage in learning higher perceptions of positive affective quality than males process by integrating learning analytics into serious games, in terms of all the three tested games. It is important to which could be meaningful for the design, implementation, separately study different types of serious games and seriously evaluation, and adaptation of serious games for education take the gender variable into account when exploring learner [26]. Serious game assisted learning also proved effective in attitudes and perceptions in serious games assisted learning learning for those caught with autism spectrum disorders. [30]. A digital serious game was designed for children and Serious games might encourage learners to hold positive young people with autism spectrum disorders to learn attitudes toward academic tasks with strong self-regulation geographical knowledge. Several learning strategies were if they were immersed in the gaming situation. Positive atti- embedded for them to learn collaboratively assisted with tudes help learners to produce better academic achievements computers. The serious game improved their geographical than negative attitudes. u Th s it is reasonable to conclude knowledge learning and brought considerable benetfi s to that serious gaming leads to significantly more positive learners. The serious game design process and future research attitudes than traditional learning. Serious games installed on should shed light on the facilitation of learner involvement in smart phones, iPods or other portable devices, could realize academic activities, together with social engagement within mobile learning. Different from traditional classroom-based the classroom [27]. learning, mobile learning is not limited to xfi ed classrooms. Use of serious games in neuroscience learning was Learners tend to be attracted by its mobility and convenience. also explored, which reported positive outcomes. Learners They usually hold positive attitudes especially toward this assisted with serious games acquired significantly more neu- attractive learning approach that easily triggers their interest roscience knowledge than those without the aid of serious and motivation [31]. In order to cultivate positive attitudes games. When interacting with serious games, they tended toward serious game assisted learning, the way to develop to perform more cognitive and metacognitive strategies to serious games should be carefully taken into account. better integrate academic activities into individual learning styles and the cognitive operation also became significantly more efficient than the nonserious game assisted learning 3.7. Development of Use of Serious Games in Education. When [28]. developing serious games, it is important to develop a tool Generally, the medical science has recently witnessed to track gameplay or learning progress. Although use of clearly more studies on serious game assisted learning com- serious games in learning could raise educational quality pared with other fields and most of studies in medical science and learner satisfaction, learners tended to concentrate on supported use of serious games. Merely positive n fi dings in gameplay rather than learning in the serious game assisted use of serious game assisted learning may be not convincing learning. This in fact not only created both fun and learning to comprehensively evaluate the effect of serious games. atmosphere simultaneously butalsomadeitdicffi ultfor Attitudes of learners, teachers, and practitioners should also researchers and teachers to track learning progress during be reviewed as an important element to assess serious game the gameplay process. Success in tracking learning progress assisted learning. could obtain immediate feedback for teachers to moderate teaching objectives and contents. A real-time analytical tool was designed to track the dynamic and transient learning 3.6. Attitudes toward Use of Serious Games in Learning. The and gameplay progress, by which teachers could keep up conception of attitudes toward serious games design using with learning progress, provide learning suggestions, and advanced information technology has been acknowledged as revise teaching goals and progress in time. This tool was a critical element in the use and acceptance of information positively evaluated and future promulgation was necessary technology [29]. Understanding learners’ attitude toward [32]. Besides, effective pedagogical approaches should be serious game assisted learning is crucial for scholars to design carefully integrated into gameplay designs and academic appropriate teaching outlines to meet learners’ different needs objectives. and for practitioners to design proper serious games to facili- Despite the fact that serious game assisted learning has tate learning effectiveness. Different attitudes mirror different needs of learners and practitioners, on which developers received great consensus on the effectiveness, methodologies and instructors of serious games should base theoretical and and tools are still decfi ient to design, analyze and support this learning approach. The major objective of the Games practical framework. Learners held positive attitudes, positive cognitive per- and Learning Alliance European Network of Excellence on ceptions, and high positive and low negative aec ff tive per- Serious Games is to address this issue, with pedagogies as ceptions regarding various serious games assisted learning. its main focus (https://seriousgamessociety.org/). The funda- Simulations were demonstrated more supportive for the mental design of serious game assisted learning is to integrate comprehension and application of knowledge while pro- learning objectives into gameplay, through which educational ducing a less positive aeff ct than quizzes and adventures. aim is realized. A Learning Mechanics-Game Mechanics 6 International Journal of Computer Games Technology (LM-GM) model was designed to support serious game research into diverse serious game assisted learning and assisted learning. Pedagogical and gaming elements were teaching. Various factors identified in this study help serious both taken into account in the learning process. Gameplay game designers and scholars to step further into this eld fi mechanics and pedagogical elements were included in the by teaching and designing educational games based on the LM-GM model. This model could help teacher evaluate the determined influencing elements. Links established in the effectiveness of a serious game and perceive how to carry out study between positive findings, negative results, attitudes, the gameplay assisted learning and teaching. The effectiveness and rising developments in serious games used in education of the model was demonstrated and it is beneficial to also provide a comprehensive reference for professionals and future research into serious game assisted learning [33]. An practitioners. The highlight on the medical eld fi shows a interesting serious game assisted learning approach has been pioneering research direction, leading to studies on other recently raised, which is beneficial to the development of areas such as language acquisition, health education, and environmental education. serious game assisted learning. A new serious game assisted learning, referred to as The research methods used in this study ensured the transmedia learning, was designed to deliver learning or reliability of the findings. The papers were all selected based training contents through various media to rapidly imple- on the rigid criteria, which enhanced the quality of works ment immersive learning or training. The transmedia sto- included in this study. Reviewed contents involve arts and rytelling supported by entertainment, advertisement, and humanities, science, engineering, and medicine, providing game industries could involve audiences in the story [34]. a full-scale reference for future research and serious game New learning strategies were provided for learners to receive designs. Although an empirical study might produce more training or learning, where transmedia storytelling com- convincing findings, this study, with rigid qualitative method, ponents, i.e., wireless connections, serious games, videos, might be able to produce reliable results due to its rea- Wechat, Messenger,graphic novels,machinima, blogs,and sonable publication sampling, database selection, and rigid other educational games, were integrated into learning or designing. training process. The factors that influence serious game assisted learning The relationship between learning and game play is could act as a reference for future gaming and teaching meaningful to explore in order to make preparations for game designs. Since perceived usefulness, ease of use and goal designers. A computational model was designed to study clarity are important factors attracting learners to use serious the relationship between learning and gameplay. It could games, designers should take them into serious consideration determine the details of gameplay under different conditions. when designing serious games and teachers should also try Stable and effective, the model could help researchers to to integrate these factors into teaching so as to improve the explore quantitative factors between gameplay variables, learning effectiveness and encourage learners to participate perception of gameplay, and game designs [35]. With these into learning activities [5]. mentioned issues addressed, the possibilities of birth of Assessment of players’ performances is a difficult issue to feasible serious game assisted learning approaches will be address, which is drawing much attention. Scoring players' enlarged. performances should include various factors such as type of games, teaching objective, and gaming context. A scor- ing mechanism containing four categories, i.e., assessment 4. Discussion aim, implementation, integration, and primary assessment type, was used to assess learners' skills during the serious The serious games are mostly reported effective in education gaming process. Players' assessment aimed at a formative although some studies arrive at negative conclusions. It rather than a confirmative conclusion, which was often cannot be neglected that serious games should be assessed before they are applied to education. The proposed assess- carried out during the playing process. However, there mentprocedureinaserious gamewas made of three steps, are still some limitations regarding gaming scoring. Many i.e., knowledge elicitation, representation, and evaluation. elements in playing such as scoring and state monitoring were Compared with verbal assessment, structural assessment in ignored. a serious game might provide a significantly more in-depth The assessment purpose and certificates of attained skills perception of important concepts in a efi ld. Four guidelines were usually provided outside the context of gaming, which proposed to make use of structural assessment were provided might not be able to encourage players to engage in playing. in a serious game, i.e., (1) securing the proper domain The prescribed implementations might also confine gaming for structural assessment, (2) choosing a proper referent achievements. Future scoring of serious gaming might take for the target participants, (3) determining the concepts these limitations into account in order to improve the for structural assessment, and (4) analyzing the graphical effectiveness of learning through serous gaming (Juan et al., knowledge representations in order to gather enough data of 2017). For example, assessment could be carried out during the structure quality [36]. The assessment of serious games the gameplay process coupled with timely feedback to the improved the quality of game products, which was beneficial performance. As for language learners, the feedback could to game design and teaching. be written or recorded in the target language so that players’ language skills could be improved when reading or listening The multidimensional examinations on serious games and learning outcomes paved a solid foundation for future to the information. International Journal of Computer Games Technology 7 5. Conclusion [2] A. A.Juan, B. 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A Meta-Analysis of Use of Serious Games in Education over a Decade

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Hindawi Publishing Corporation
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Copyright © 2019 Yu Zhonggen. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
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1687-7047
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1687-7055
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10.1155/2019/4797032
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Hindawi International Journal of Computer Games Technology Volume 2019, Article ID 4797032, 8 pages https://doi.org/10.1155/2019/4797032 Review Article A Meta-Analysis of Use of Serious Games in Education over a Decade Yu Zhonggen Department of English Studies, Faculty of Foreign Studies, Beijing Language and Culture University, China Correspondence should be addressed to Yu Zhonggen; 401373742@qq.com Received 16 October 2018; Revised 28 December 2018; Accepted 16 January 2019; Published 3 February 2019 Academic Editor: Michael J. Katchabaw Copyright © 2019 Yu Zhonggen. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. It seems necessary to review the literature to explore the effectiveness of serious games in education, since the number of studies on serious games is surging up. iTh s study systematically reviewed the literature within around a recent decade. eTh trend of the number of publications related to use of serious games in education was firstly clarified based on the data retrieved from major databases. Secondly, various factors were determined that influenced the effect of serious game assisted learning. eTh major section identified both advantages and disadvantages of use of serious games in education. Use of serious games in medical science has been rising in a recent decade, which is thus highlighted in this study. Attitudes toward use of serious games in education were explored, as well as the new development of use of serious games in education. Future theoretical and practical exploration might need interdisciplinary cooperation. 1. Introduction One of the reasons for the effectiveness of serious games in education may be their influence on learners’ mood. The past decade has been witnessing fast development of Gaming, as an entertainment outlet, plays an important information technologies, together with rapid development role in mood formation such as sadness, happiness, and of serious games. With the increasing application of technol- anger [1]. Effective serious games attempt to form posi- ogy assisted education, there is an urgent need to investigate tive mood in order to encourage players to continue the the effect of serious game assisted learning. An increasing play, leading to increased interest in gameplay, as well number of studies on serious games are also emerging, which as better academic performances. Happy and active play- needs to be reviewed to show future research directions and ers can certainly be absorbed in serious game assisted reveal the features of successful serious games. Designs of learning. serious games and their application to education are also in This review study, therefore, aims to find out the main need of the review of literature, which helps designers and features of successful serious games and put forward con- teachers to better their professional work in the future. structive suggestions for designers via reviewing significant Dieff rent from entertaining games, serious games are works in the recent decade. We attempt to answer the following research questions: (1) What is the trend of the designed for an educational rather than an entertaining purpose [1]. Serious games are referred to as entertaining number of publications in a recent decade? (2) What are tools with a purpose of education, where players cultivate the factors influencing the effect of serious game assisted their knowledge and practice their skills through overcoming learning? (3) What are the positive findings in use of serious numerous hindrances during gaming. Players’ performances games in education? (4) What are the negative n fi dings in are scored during the gaming process [2]. In case players use of serious games in education? (5) Is use of serious overcome a hindrance, they will obtain some awards such as gaming effective in medical education? (6) What attitudes scores, advancement, and power. Educational elements can do learners/players hold toward use of serious games in education? (7) What is the development of use of serious be integrated into the gameplay, which will be subconsciously acquired by the players during the gaming process. games in education? 2009 2 International Journal of Computer Games Technology Figure 1: A histogram of related publications ranging from 2009 to 2018 2. Research Methods medicine, emergency medicine, ergonomics, telecommuni- cations, water resources, and other unrelated disciplines. In order to answer the research questions, we obtained After this, the publications were reduced to 76 peer reviewed 792 results including 729 articles, 49 reviews, 15 proceeding articles indexed in SCI-EXPANDED, SSCI, and A&HCI. papers, 7 editorial comments, and 5 meeting abstracts by Then two researchers independently read the remaining searching “Web of Science” (involving six databases, i.e., articles to exclude those unrelated to serious game assisted SCI-EXPANDED, SSCI, A&HCI, ESCI, CCR-EXPANDED, learning. Both of them reached an agreement on 39 articles and IC) with the subjects “serious game” AND/OR “serious to be included in the review analysis. gaming” AND/OR “education” AND/OR “learning”. The quality of publications was assessed by a 5-point 3. Results criterion [3]: (1) quality of research design for answering research questions. The quality is classified into “high” if All the selected papers were systematically reviewed and the study is conducted through a rigid design, e.g., com- rigidly analyzed, whose results were shown below. bining quantitative with qualitative research; The quality is considered “medium” if the study is carried out through 3.1. eTh Trend of the Number of Publications. The number a less rigid design, e.g., a quasi-experimental design; the of publications was then analyzed using the tool in “Web of quality is reduced to “low” if the study is loosely designed, Science”, whose result is shown in Figure 1. e.g., self-report description; (2) appropriate methodology or As shownin Figure 1, the year 2009 beganto witness analysis; (3) generalizability of the results; (4) relatedness publications about serious game assisted education. With of conceptual framework, context, sample, and measures to time elapsing, the number of publications steadily rises research questions; and (5) reliability of n fi dings. Each of the until the peak in 2017. The year 2018 also predicts a large selected publications was scored based on the above criteria number of publications since the data were obtained in and reviewed by two researchers. The interrater reliability for September 2018. Far more publications may be waiting to be the scoring was .83, reaching high consistency between two published and indexed in “Web of Science”. The reasons for raters in terms of quality of papers. The papers with high the increasing number of publications should be explored, quality were selected in this study. among which influencing factors in serious games assisted By perusing titles and abstracts, we initially screened education should be rstl fi y discussed. those unrelated to serious game assisted learning. Then 351 publications remained. The second screening excluded 49 reviews, 15 proceeding papers, 7 editorial comments, 3.2. Factors Inuen fl cing the Eec ff t of Serious Game Assisted and 5 meeting abstracts, after which 275 articles survived. Learning. Numerous factors may exert more or less influ- The third screening excluded those indexed in ESCI, CCR- ences on the effect of serious game assisted learning. They EXPANDED, and IC because these databases were not might include the perceived usefulness of the game and considered main sources to retrieve highly quality serious the interaction of students with colleagues, instead of effort game related papers. We also excluded those in the fields expectancy [4]. It has been widely accepted that serious of computer science sowa ft re engineering, computer science games, as a tool integrated into many courses, are playing artificial intelligence, computer science information systems, an important role in learning and helping learners focus on computer science theory methods, engineering environ- the target subject. Perceived usefulness, ease of use, and goal ments, environmental sciences, communication, critical care clarity were indicators of satisfaction and effectiveness in use International Journal of Computer Games Technology 3 of serious games, which was conrfi med by a survey and a Types of serious games and age of learners are also group of participants. When learners clearly predict the goals influencing factors that have been academically explored. andease ofuse,they tendto focus on the contents and enjoy Learners at a younger age performed significantly better in serious game assisted learning than those at an older age [1]. themselves [5]. In addition, serious games should be appropriate for var- Games with different features also exert different influences ious learners and target contents. Those catering for dieff rent on learning effects. Open ended serious games improved students’ specific skills and better their learning performance learner needs and applicable in different academic contexts could more likely achieve success than those failing to do via problem solving than closed games [12]. so. Relationships between learning attributes and gaming mechanics, an important inu fl encing factor, should therefore 3.3. Positive Findings in Use of Serious Games in Education. be considered and implemented by teachers, which could There are a huge number of findings in serious game assisted be integrated into teaching plans and learning process. This learning, most of which are supportive, coupled with a relationship played an important role in improving learning few negative results. Serious gaming immersed learning effectiveness and in enhancing learning experience [6]. could facilitate learners' holistic understanding of scientific Specific influencing factors have recently been explored. conceptions due to the improved performances on science Serious game assisted learning was greatly influenced by and the prolonged retention of science knowledge. Gaming vfi e factors, i.e., backstory and production, realism, artificial immersion was also positively correlated with performance intelligence and adaptivity, interaction, and feedback and of science learning [7]. However, in both serious game and debriefing. Backstory and production refer to the information nongame assisted learning approaches, no significant differ- about the effect of serious games. Realism of serious games ences in undesirable aspects (e.g., complaint or disturbance means the degree to which the game could meet users’ that influences other players’ gameplay experience) were expectation. Artificial intelligence and adaptivity refer to an revealed among teachers and learners [13]. approach using computing algorithms to facilitate the user- Serious games proved effective in enhancing cognitive game interaction in order to provide service to cater for users’ abilities and aec ff t, as well as pleasant mood, in general individual needs. The interaction in a serious game includes learning. Through analyzing 46 empirical studies, serious user-user, user-game, and user-instructor mutual commu- games were reported helpful for learners to obtain cognitive nication. Feedback refers to the evaluation of the serious abilities, and increase positive aeff ct of learning [14]. Serious game, as well as the response of the game to users. Debriefing games could increase players’ overall pleasant mood and means communication sessions when information is shared their happiness level based on their self-reports. Players and examined after the gameplay. Learners should seriously felt happier with serious game assisted learning and female consider these factors to achieve success in learning, and players achieved more success in this learning approach. designers of serious games should also integrate these factors into the game production [7]. Educational technologies, such as serious games and Gaming easiness and instruction were also demonstrated mobile applications, improved learners’ academic achieve- influencing factors. Easiness in use and gaming instructive- ments and encourage their participation in learning activities. ness were more important factors than enjoyment to encour- Educational or serious games can act as effective tools to age gameplay participation. Enjoyment and motivation were improve teaching in the sciences [14]. Serious games were thus not reported as influencing factors. Although enjoyment deemed as an effective pedagogical medium to cater for and motivation were positively correlated, no signicfi ant learners’ various requirements and expectations. Despite the gain in learning outcomes was revealed due to both factors fact that no significant differences in academic achievements [8]. were found; signicfi antly more positive attitudes toward Surprises could also be considered an important factor serious game assisted learning were revealed compared with that influences the effectiveness of use of serious games traditional paper-based learning. Serious game assisted ped- in education. Surprises in serious games improved learn- agogy could provide flexible learning for different learners ing effect through stimulating cognitive structures. Surprise who could move beyond the limitations of traditional learn- might bring benefits to learners at an advanced level in ing [15]. Aided with serious games and other educational terms of proportional reasoning skills. us Th narrativeness technologies, learners could choose time and venue they that produced surprises could be used to facilitate reasoning feel convenient to learn, without being limited to ossified skills and improve learning effect [9]. Surprising events could schedules and places as in traditional learning. reveal the potential of serious games, where learners could Serious game-based learning proved significantly more obtain significantly more knowledge structures and foster effective than the nongame-based learning. Learners were more in-depth learning than those without surprising events engaged in serious game-based learning significantly longer [10]. than the nongame-based learning. In the former learning Except for the learning contexts on campus, workplace approach, learners and teachers were significantly more moti- out of campus was also a concern of scholars. In the business vated, desirable, helpful, and less hindered compared with the settings, the influencing factors in a serious game included latter. It was empirically evidenced that learners who learnt instructional content, game dimensions, game cycle, debrief- through playing serious games were scored signicfi antly ing, perceived educational value, transfer of learnt skills, and higher than those who did not learn through gameplay intrinsic motivation [11]. although significant differences in knowledge tests were not 4 International Journal of Computer Games Technology Table 1: A summary of inu fl encing factors, positive and negative findings. Items Findings (1) Perceived usefulness of the game and the interaction of students with colleagues [4]; (2) Goals and ease of use [5]; (3) Relationships between learning attributes and gaming mechanics [6]; (4) Backstory and production, realism, artificial intelligence and adaptivity, interaction, and feedback and debriefing Inu fl encing [7]; factors (5) Gaming easiness and instruction [8]; Surprises [9, 10]; (6) Instructional content, game dimensions, game cycle, debriefing, perceived educational value, transfer of learnt skills and intrinsic motivation [11]; (7) Types of serious games and age of learners [1]; (8) Games with different features [12]. Serious games were reported effective to: (1) facilitate learners' holistic understanding of scientific conceptions [7], (2) obtain cognitive abilities, (3) increase positive affect of learning and improve teaching in the sciences [14], Positive (4) provide flexible learning [15], findings (5) improve learning outcomes [16], (6) facilitate socio-cultural learning in terms of cognitive and motivational effects [21] and team opinions [17], (7) improve cross cultural communication competence [11], (8) improve script collaboration based professional learning and learner satisfaction [18]. (1) eTh nature of serious games negatively influenced the relationship between mental workload and learning eeff ct Negative [22]. findings (2) No significant differences in in-depth learning were found among learners [23]. (3) Some serious games aggravated the mental workload and decreased the learning effectiveness [24]. revealed [16]. Serious games were also reported effective in social interactions, and cultural communication, negative the eld fi of architecture education. results could not be ignored. Previous use of serious games obtained positive results in architecture education. Architecture involves architectural 3.4. Negative Findings in Use of Serious Games in Education. art and technology, as well as the aesthetic and practical Some negative results were, however, also found especially in aspects of architectural art. Although they are clearly dif- terms of the correlations between mental workload and learn- ferent, they are closely related, and their components vary ing effect. The nature of serious games negatively influenced greatly with the specific circumstances and buildings. Under- the relationship between mental workload and learning effect graduate architecture majors include architecture, urban and [22]. In case the serious game makes the mental workload rural planning, landscape architecture, etc. Use of serious heavier, the learning effect tends to be negatively influenced, games in architecture education could enhance students’ and vice versa. It is therefore no wonder to find that, in the practical and theoretical knowledge, which was reported by serious game “Peacemaker” (Impact Games 2007) assisted many students majoring in architecture. learning, no significant differences in in-depth learning were In the context of business, use of serious games was found among learners [23]. This type of serious game might also effective in improving cross cultural communication have aggravated the mental workload and thus decreased competence between people from different countries [11]. the learning effectiveness since the mental workload such as Game-based learning was also eeff ctive in social learning in the change of Heart Rate significantly indicated the learning favor of team opinions [17], as well as in script collaboration outcomes at a certain difficulty level [24]. based professional learning and improvements on learner In order to clearly present a scenario and enhance the satisfaction [18]. This was in line with the findings of another readability of the paper, influencing factors and positive and meta-analytical review that computer games create a complex negative findings are summarized in Table 1. learning situation where instructional support (e.g., scripted collaboration) is needed to facilitate cognitive learning [19]. 3.5. Use of Serious Gaming in Medical Education. Ahuge Serious game use could also improve social interaction number of studies have been devoted to professional fields, abilities by integrating metacognitive strategies into gaming, e.g., medical education. Serious games in the eld fi of medical leading to better academic achievements and learning activity education have been widely used due to their positive engagement. It could also improve writing skills via thinking outcomes in learning and learner participation. Usability, aloud and modeling in the gaming process [20]. motivation, flow state, aec ff tive engagement, and learning Game-based learning was also evidenced effective in were determined, which revealed that serious games were sociocultural learning in terms of cognitive and motivational frequently used with a high level of engagement. However, the effects [21]. Despite the fact that the majority of studies negative aec ff t in the use of serious games increased, followed positively evaluated the effect of serious games on learning, by a decreased negative aec ff t in physiotherapists and a rise in International Journal of Computer Games Technology 5 learner positive affect after the prototype [25]. The disabled Significant gender differences were found, where females had could also benefit from use of serious games in learning. significantly higher perceptions of negative affective quality than males. When serious games were generally addressed, A framework involving three major components, i.e., learners could answer questions about specific games in more learner profiling, learning adaptation, and learning evalua- detail. Female held a significantly more positive attitude and tion, was designed for disabled people to engage in learning higher perceptions of positive affective quality than males process by integrating learning analytics into serious games, in terms of all the three tested games. It is important to which could be meaningful for the design, implementation, separately study different types of serious games and seriously evaluation, and adaptation of serious games for education take the gender variable into account when exploring learner [26]. Serious game assisted learning also proved effective in attitudes and perceptions in serious games assisted learning learning for those caught with autism spectrum disorders. [30]. A digital serious game was designed for children and Serious games might encourage learners to hold positive young people with autism spectrum disorders to learn attitudes toward academic tasks with strong self-regulation geographical knowledge. Several learning strategies were if they were immersed in the gaming situation. Positive atti- embedded for them to learn collaboratively assisted with tudes help learners to produce better academic achievements computers. The serious game improved their geographical than negative attitudes. u Th s it is reasonable to conclude knowledge learning and brought considerable benetfi s to that serious gaming leads to significantly more positive learners. The serious game design process and future research attitudes than traditional learning. Serious games installed on should shed light on the facilitation of learner involvement in smart phones, iPods or other portable devices, could realize academic activities, together with social engagement within mobile learning. Different from traditional classroom-based the classroom [27]. learning, mobile learning is not limited to xfi ed classrooms. Use of serious games in neuroscience learning was Learners tend to be attracted by its mobility and convenience. also explored, which reported positive outcomes. Learners They usually hold positive attitudes especially toward this assisted with serious games acquired significantly more neu- attractive learning approach that easily triggers their interest roscience knowledge than those without the aid of serious and motivation [31]. In order to cultivate positive attitudes games. When interacting with serious games, they tended toward serious game assisted learning, the way to develop to perform more cognitive and metacognitive strategies to serious games should be carefully taken into account. better integrate academic activities into individual learning styles and the cognitive operation also became significantly more efficient than the nonserious game assisted learning 3.7. Development of Use of Serious Games in Education. When [28]. developing serious games, it is important to develop a tool Generally, the medical science has recently witnessed to track gameplay or learning progress. Although use of clearly more studies on serious game assisted learning com- serious games in learning could raise educational quality pared with other fields and most of studies in medical science and learner satisfaction, learners tended to concentrate on supported use of serious games. Merely positive n fi dings in gameplay rather than learning in the serious game assisted use of serious game assisted learning may be not convincing learning. This in fact not only created both fun and learning to comprehensively evaluate the effect of serious games. atmosphere simultaneously butalsomadeitdicffi ultfor Attitudes of learners, teachers, and practitioners should also researchers and teachers to track learning progress during be reviewed as an important element to assess serious game the gameplay process. Success in tracking learning progress assisted learning. could obtain immediate feedback for teachers to moderate teaching objectives and contents. A real-time analytical tool was designed to track the dynamic and transient learning 3.6. Attitudes toward Use of Serious Games in Learning. The and gameplay progress, by which teachers could keep up conception of attitudes toward serious games design using with learning progress, provide learning suggestions, and advanced information technology has been acknowledged as revise teaching goals and progress in time. This tool was a critical element in the use and acceptance of information positively evaluated and future promulgation was necessary technology [29]. Understanding learners’ attitude toward [32]. Besides, effective pedagogical approaches should be serious game assisted learning is crucial for scholars to design carefully integrated into gameplay designs and academic appropriate teaching outlines to meet learners’ different needs objectives. and for practitioners to design proper serious games to facili- Despite the fact that serious game assisted learning has tate learning effectiveness. Different attitudes mirror different needs of learners and practitioners, on which developers received great consensus on the effectiveness, methodologies and instructors of serious games should base theoretical and and tools are still decfi ient to design, analyze and support this learning approach. The major objective of the Games practical framework. Learners held positive attitudes, positive cognitive per- and Learning Alliance European Network of Excellence on ceptions, and high positive and low negative aec ff tive per- Serious Games is to address this issue, with pedagogies as ceptions regarding various serious games assisted learning. its main focus (https://seriousgamessociety.org/). The funda- Simulations were demonstrated more supportive for the mental design of serious game assisted learning is to integrate comprehension and application of knowledge while pro- learning objectives into gameplay, through which educational ducing a less positive aeff ct than quizzes and adventures. aim is realized. A Learning Mechanics-Game Mechanics 6 International Journal of Computer Games Technology (LM-GM) model was designed to support serious game research into diverse serious game assisted learning and assisted learning. Pedagogical and gaming elements were teaching. Various factors identified in this study help serious both taken into account in the learning process. Gameplay game designers and scholars to step further into this eld fi mechanics and pedagogical elements were included in the by teaching and designing educational games based on the LM-GM model. This model could help teacher evaluate the determined influencing elements. Links established in the effectiveness of a serious game and perceive how to carry out study between positive findings, negative results, attitudes, the gameplay assisted learning and teaching. The effectiveness and rising developments in serious games used in education of the model was demonstrated and it is beneficial to also provide a comprehensive reference for professionals and future research into serious game assisted learning [33]. An practitioners. The highlight on the medical eld fi shows a interesting serious game assisted learning approach has been pioneering research direction, leading to studies on other recently raised, which is beneficial to the development of areas such as language acquisition, health education, and environmental education. serious game assisted learning. A new serious game assisted learning, referred to as The research methods used in this study ensured the transmedia learning, was designed to deliver learning or reliability of the findings. The papers were all selected based training contents through various media to rapidly imple- on the rigid criteria, which enhanced the quality of works ment immersive learning or training. The transmedia sto- included in this study. Reviewed contents involve arts and rytelling supported by entertainment, advertisement, and humanities, science, engineering, and medicine, providing game industries could involve audiences in the story [34]. a full-scale reference for future research and serious game New learning strategies were provided for learners to receive designs. Although an empirical study might produce more training or learning, where transmedia storytelling com- convincing findings, this study, with rigid qualitative method, ponents, i.e., wireless connections, serious games, videos, might be able to produce reliable results due to its rea- Wechat, Messenger,graphic novels,machinima, blogs,and sonable publication sampling, database selection, and rigid other educational games, were integrated into learning or designing. training process. The factors that influence serious game assisted learning The relationship between learning and game play is could act as a reference for future gaming and teaching meaningful to explore in order to make preparations for game designs. Since perceived usefulness, ease of use and goal designers. A computational model was designed to study clarity are important factors attracting learners to use serious the relationship between learning and gameplay. It could games, designers should take them into serious consideration determine the details of gameplay under different conditions. when designing serious games and teachers should also try Stable and effective, the model could help researchers to to integrate these factors into teaching so as to improve the explore quantitative factors between gameplay variables, learning effectiveness and encourage learners to participate perception of gameplay, and game designs [35]. With these into learning activities [5]. mentioned issues addressed, the possibilities of birth of Assessment of players’ performances is a difficult issue to feasible serious game assisted learning approaches will be address, which is drawing much attention. Scoring players' enlarged. performances should include various factors such as type of games, teaching objective, and gaming context. A scor- ing mechanism containing four categories, i.e., assessment 4. Discussion aim, implementation, integration, and primary assessment type, was used to assess learners' skills during the serious The serious games are mostly reported effective in education gaming process. Players' assessment aimed at a formative although some studies arrive at negative conclusions. It rather than a confirmative conclusion, which was often cannot be neglected that serious games should be assessed before they are applied to education. The proposed assess- carried out during the playing process. However, there mentprocedureinaserious gamewas made of three steps, are still some limitations regarding gaming scoring. Many i.e., knowledge elicitation, representation, and evaluation. elements in playing such as scoring and state monitoring were Compared with verbal assessment, structural assessment in ignored. a serious game might provide a significantly more in-depth The assessment purpose and certificates of attained skills perception of important concepts in a efi ld. Four guidelines were usually provided outside the context of gaming, which proposed to make use of structural assessment were provided might not be able to encourage players to engage in playing. in a serious game, i.e., (1) securing the proper domain The prescribed implementations might also confine gaming for structural assessment, (2) choosing a proper referent achievements. Future scoring of serious gaming might take for the target participants, (3) determining the concepts these limitations into account in order to improve the for structural assessment, and (4) analyzing the graphical effectiveness of learning through serous gaming (Juan et al., knowledge representations in order to gather enough data of 2017). For example, assessment could be carried out during the structure quality [36]. The assessment of serious games the gameplay process coupled with timely feedback to the improved the quality of game products, which was beneficial performance. As for language learners, the feedback could to game design and teaching. be written or recorded in the target language so that players’ language skills could be improved when reading or listening The multidimensional examinations on serious games and learning outcomes paved a solid foundation for future to the information. International Journal of Computer Games Technology 7 5. Conclusion [2] A. A.Juan, B. 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