Personalized, Adaptive Digital Educational Games using Narrative Game-Based Learning Objects

Personalized, Adaptive Digital Educational Games using Narrative Game-Based Learning Objects

Stefan Göbel (Technische Universität Darmstadt, Germany) and Florian Mehm (Technische Universität Darmstadt, Germany)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-3673-6.ch005
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Storytelling and gaming approaches are used as motivational instruments for suspenseful, engaging learning. This chapter describes the concept of Narrative Game-Based Learning Objects (NGLOB), providing a model of how to combine these different axes (narration, gaming, and learning) and how to apply it within personalized, adaptive Digital Educational Games (DEG). From a research perspective, this results in one of the main technical challenges of Serious Games (SG): personalization and adaptation. Here, the central question might be summarized with “How does one create and control a game during play considering the game context and characteristics of individual users or user groups?” This question and the use of NGLOBs are illustrated through the example of “Save the Earth” for teaching and learning geography.
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For adaptation to the player's preferences, a player model is necessary. A lot of research in the field of player modeling has been done up to now. One of the first player models was designed by Bartle (1996). Houlette (2004) introduced a player model which keeps track of several player traits to create a model which can be used to adapt the behavior of Non-Player Characters (NPCs). In this context, Yannakakis and Maragoudakis (2005) showed how to improve a player's experience during a Pacman game by an adaptation of the opponents' behavior according to the player's skill by use of an adaptive player modeling. Magerko, Heeter, Fitzgerald and Medler (2008) designed a game for teaching microbiology concepts called S.C.R.U.B., which can be personalized according to a player type chosen at the beginning by answering a questionnaire. The chosen model however is static for the whole game and does not consider adaptation based on the learning context. Cowley, Charles, Black and Hickey (2008) propose a game adaptation mechanism based on a continuously updated factorial player modeling with varying factors for different game genres. In the context of storytelling, the system Passage (Thue & Bulitko, 2008) uses player modeling to adapt the game's story individually to the type of player. In Façade (Mateas & Stern, 2005) the player can join an interactive story which adapts its agents' behavior according to the players`s actions.

For adaptation to storytelling metaphors, a story model is necessary. Here, the basic idea is to use well-proven story structures in order to ‘guarantee’ suspenseful stories. The most prominent examples for story structures in that context of story-based edutainment applications (and entertainment genre in general) represent the Writer’s journey (Vogler, 1992) respectively Hero’s Journey (Campbell, 1949) as well as the Hollywood film model (Field, 2005) (See Figure 1).

Figure 1.

Story model of the hero’s journey (left); linear and modular story units (right)

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