The Gameplay Enjoyment Model

The Gameplay Enjoyment Model

John M. Quick (Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ, USA), Robert K. Atkinson (School of Computing, Informatics and Decision Systems Engineering, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ, USA) and Lijia Lin (School of Psychology and Cognitive Science, East China Normal University, Shanghai, China)
DOI: 10.4018/jgcms.2012100105
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To date, reviews of the games literature have noted a lack of empirical studies examining the relationships between games and their purported benefits (Huizenga, Admiraal, & Dam, 2011; Vandercruysse, Vanderwaetere, & Clarebout, 2012; Young et al., 2012). Furthermore, researchers have called for a better understanding of the specific game features that may lead to beneficial outcomes (Hartmann & Klimmt, 2006; Klimmt, Schmid, & Orthmann, 2009; McNamara, Jackson, & Graesser, 2010; Vorderer, Bryant, Pieper, & Weber, 2006; Wilson et al., 2009). In this survey study, a structural equation modeling (SEM) approach was employed to better understand the specific features that influence player enjoyment of video games. The resulting Gameplay Enjoyment Model (GEM) explains players’ overall Enjoyment of games, as well as their preferences for six specific types of enjoyment, including Challenge, Companionship, Competition, Exploration, Fantasy, and Fidelity. The implications of these model components are discussed in the context of educational game design and future directions for research are offered. GEM provides an empirical framework within which vital progress can be made in understanding the enjoyment of games and the role that games play in education.
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While video games have become a major talking point in education (Barab, Gresalfi, & Ingram-Goble, 2010; Gee, 2003, 2007; Prensky, 2001, 2007), healthcare (Bergeron, 2006; Thompson et al., 2010; Wood, 2008), and social change (Barab, Dodge, Gentry, Saleh, & Pettyjohn, 2011; Bogost, 2007; McGonigal, 2011), amongst other disciplines, recent literature reviews have noted a lack of quality empirical studies examining the relationships between games and their purported benefits (Huizenga et al., 2011; Vandercruysse, et al., 2012; Young, et al., 2012). Furthermore, several researchers have called for a better understanding of the specific game features that may lead to beneficial outcomes. Hartmann & Klimmt (2006) stressed the need to investigate personal attributes and specific, detailed preferences for video games. Simultaneously, Vorderer, Bryant, Pieper, & Weber (2006) noted that while certain foundational elements of importance to games have been identified, such as challenge and competition, they have not been clearly defined. Later, Wilson et al. (2009) pointed to a lack of knowledge about which game characteristics affect learning outcomes. Similarly, McNamara, Jackson, Graesser, & Baek (2010) called for research on which game features are most important to the motivational and learning benefits of games. Most recently, Vandercruysse et al. (2012) and Young et al. (2012) cited a lack of specificity, abundant overgeneralization, and insufficient consideration of individual differences as hampering empirical progress towards understanding the learning effects associated with educational games. From these recommendations, there is a clear need to identify the specific game features that influence player perception and hold potential benefits for educational gaming.

A few prior studies have shown positive relationships between educational games and learning performance. In a series of three studies, undergraduate business, economics, and management students who played educational games as a part of their respective courses showed statistically significantly higher test scores than students who did not play the games (Blunt, 2007). Likewise, pre-post academic performance increases have been demonstrated in K-12 social studies using an off-the-shelf commercial game (Foster, 2011) and in undergraduate history education using a modified commercial game (Moshirnia & Israel, 2010). Similarly, the use of games has lead to pre-post learning gains in K-12 math education (Cordova & Lepper, 1996; Ke & Grabowski, 2007; Parker & Lepper, 1992). So too have learning performance improvements been demonstrated through the use of science games at the K-12 (Clark et al., 2011) and undergraduate levels (Barab et al., 2009).

Although empirical research investigating the relationships between games, enjoyment, and learning, is limited, promising evidence from related fields suggests that these relationships warrant further exploration. In the field of information systems, enjoyment has shown several positive benefits for the adoption of internet and computer systems. Enjoyment has been associated with increased perceptions of usability (Venkatesh, 2000; Venkatesh, Speier, & Morris, 2002; Yi & Hwang, 2003) and usefulness (Mitchell, Chen, & Macredie, 2005; Venkatesh, et al., 2002; Yi & Hwang, 2003). In addition, users who enjoy systems have shown increased future intention to use those systems (Lee, Cheung, & Chen, 2005; Moon & Kim, 2001), as well as more positive attitudes towards them (Lee, et al., 2005; Moon & Kim, 2001; Van der Heijden, 2003). In some cases, enjoyment has even lead to higher actual use of computers and the internet (Igbaria, Parasuraman, & Baroudi, 1996; Teo, Lim, & Lai, 1999).

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