Design of Fantasy and Their Effect on Learning and Engagement in a Serious Game

Design of Fantasy and Their Effect on Learning and Engagement in a Serious Game

Jaejin Lee, Min Liu
Copyright: © 2017 |Pages: 20
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-0513-6.ch009
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Researchers are interested in exploring the use of fantasy design in educational games to promote learning. This chapter first reviewed the literature on fantasy designs and relevant principles along with the studies examining the use of fantasy designs to enhance learning. An experiment was then conducted, in which two sets of fantasy designs were implemented in a serious game, to examine the effect of different types of fantasy (portrayal fantasy vs creative fantasy designs) on learning and game engagement. The results using multiple regressions showed that portrayal fantasy design was more effective both for enhancing learning and engagement. Students who used portrayal fantasy models showed better improvement in their content knowledge and scored better on game engagement. Visualization analysis showed the portrayal fantasy group spent more time in using the tool containing all fantasy designs than the creative group. Findings and future research directions are discussed.
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Fantasy is defined as an environment that “evokes mental images of physical or social situations that are not actually presented” (Malone & Lepper, 1987, p. 240). Asgari and Kaufman (2010) defined it as “creations of the imaginative faculty and mental images which are unrealistic or improbable, and not actually present” (p. 95). A broader definition of fantasy can be defined as “any departure from consensus reality” (Hume, 1984, p. 21) including everything around us for cultural development and expansions of knowledge and further. It is the byproducts of human imagination (Vygotsky, 2004).

Research on using fantasy in educational settings suggests that fantasy can be beneficial. For example, research showed that the utilization of fantasy promoted intellectual and emotional improvements (Cook, 2002; Richert, 2003; Richert, Shawber, Hoffman, & Taylor, 2009; Richert & Smith, 2011). Students were more likely to be engaged in learning tasks and were better at problem solving when the tasks were applied in a fantasy context (Cook, 2002). Research also showed the use of fantasy in educational contexts stimulated curiosity and imagination, and promoted creative thinking because fantasy as a medium can create a novel condition which is inconceivable in the real life (Cook, 2002; Wilson et al., 2009).

While the previous research has mainly focused on the educational benefits of fantasy itself, there is little discussion on the fantasy designs that are appropriate for serious games. Research has shown that while the use of fantasy is generally beneficial for engagement and memory of visual information, certain types of fantasy can cause a disconnect of one’s cognitive processing as one’s deep involvement in fantasy can interrupt the relevance to a learner’s background knowledge in game playing (Aleman & De Haan, 2004; Cook, 2002; Richert, 2003).

We are interested in examining what types of fantasy designs can contribute to learning and engagement for students of 11 to 12 years old when they are interacting with a serious game. We will first review the literature on fantasy use in education and fantasy related design strategies. We then conducted an experiment testing different fantasy types designed according to the literature to examine the effect of different fantasy types on learning and engagement.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Fantasy Type: Fantasy type denotes a category of fantasy including portrayal, creative, combinative, and is an envisioned representation of fantasy ( Kim, 2009 ). In this study, only two types of fantasy, portrayal and creative fantasy, were used.

Reproductive and Combinative Representation of Fantasy: The two types of representation of fantasy refer to a developmental method of fantasy. In developing fantasy, fantasy artists first develop a masterpiece by taking essential characteristics in existing concepts and artifacts. This developmental process is reproductive. Later, the masterpiece is modified by countless combinations of other concepts. This process includes blending and combination of multiple concepts, which infuses creativity in human imagination.

Portrayal Fantasy: Portrayal fantasy is a type of fantasy including imaginative components representing familiar preexisting artifacts based on the transformation of shape or color within the possible variations that a target audience is used to.

Game Engagement: Game engagement is a term used to describe the experience of individual who is fully involved in a mental procedure or physical activity such as video game playing.

Data Visualization: Data visualization is a technique of graphical data representation that makes sense of human behaviors or activity patterns in diverse contexts. In serious games and educational games, data visualization research often focuses on the learning activities: learner’s tool use patterns and spatial exploration in a 3D space.

Creative Fantasy: Creative fantasy is a type of fantasy that includes imaginative components making the object different from pre-existing artifacts through continuous changing or combining existing objects to constitute the parts or concepts of those fantasies.

Fantasy: Fantasy is defined as an environment that “evokes mental images of physical or social situations that are not actually presented” ( Malone & Lepper, 1987 , p. 240).

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