Game Mechanics Supporting a Learning and Playful Experience in Educational Escape Games

Game Mechanics Supporting a Learning and Playful Experience in Educational Escape Games

Divya Menon (Independent Researcher, India) and Margarida Romero (Université Côte d'Azur, France)
Copyright: © 2020 |Pages: 20
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-2015-4.ch007
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Globally, educators are striving to find innovative ways of engaging their learners and ensuring that they accomplish the desired learning outcomes. Among the various game-based learning approaches that have come up in recent years, escape games are being widely used in a variety of learning contexts. As an entertainment activity, these games seem to be popular among players of all ages and backgrounds. This chapter introduces escape games and provides a literature review on their possible benefits and limitations. The game mechanics and learning mechanics that enable these games to be a potentially playful activity for teaching and learning will be discussed. This chapter provides educators and researchers with the required information backed by various studies to consider the integration of educational escape games with their current learning methods.
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In recent years, there is increased acceptance and enthusiasm towards game-based learning (GBL). Pivec, Dziabenko, and Schinnerl (2003) mention that in studies conducted on the retention of learning through games, 8 out of 11 studies showed that GBL leads to improved retention. In 7 of these studies, learners indicated a preference for GBL rather than lecture-based learning. It can be used to creatively introduce learners of all ages to different topics. GBL provides an avenue for active learning and offers learners the opportunity to apply what they learn in an enjoyable, stress-free environment.

Carvalho et al. (2015) study serious games within the framework of activity theory which studies people as actors who respond to and are motivated by their socio-cultural environment. According to them, when seen through the lens of activity theory, educational games are “part of a complex system that also includes human actors (player or learner, instructor, and game designer) and the motives driving their interactions with the game” (p. 2). They suggest that serious games should be designed by integrating a gaming activity with a learning activity using an instructional design approach. To produce the desired learning outcomes, educators need to design serious games considering the background, environment, and experience of learners and offer them gaming experiences that they can relate to and feel motivated by. Garris, Ahlers, and Driskell (2002) use the Input-Process-Outcome Game model (Figure 1) to elaborate that learners will be self-motivated and guided when they find the learning activity engaging in itself and the outcome worth striving for. They propose that an educational game should present new learning through game characteristics (game mechanics). The game should allow learners to take autonomous actions (either individually or in a group) and encourage behaviors, such as persistence and timeliness. These behaviors and actions of learners should result in instant feedback on their progress and performance within the game (and thus, on the learning). Finally, conducting a debriefing session will help connect the dots between the learning content, the game, and the learning outcomes.

Figure 1.

Input-process-outcome game model

(Garris et al., 2002)

While introducing interactivity into learning materials, games could also help in developing social skills. “While playing a game, the learner is expected to elicit desirable behaviors based on emotional or cognitive reactions which result from interaction with and feedback from game play” (Pivec et al., 2003, p. 2).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Game-Based Learning: A learning methodology wherein gameplay is designed to achieve specific learning objectives.

Game Mechanics: Methods that a player can potentially interact within the game environment shaping a form of gameplay.

Educational Escape Games: A form of game-based learning activity that is based on escape games and is designed to develop a learner’s proficiency in a specific topic or skill within a learning context.

Learning Mechanics: Methods a player can potentially interact within the game environment aiming to support the learning outcomes of an educational game.

Escape Games: Collaborative games, based on the theme of escape or rescue, in which players work towards completing challenges by finding clues and solving puzzles within a specified time.

Serious Games: Educational games that are created in the context of game-based learning aiming to support the learners’ achievement of specific learning outcomes.

Gamification: Use of an existing game which has not been designed with specific learning objectives in mind, towards the achievement of specific learning objectives.

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