As You Like It: What Media Psychology Can Tell Us About Educational Game Design

As You Like It: What Media Psychology Can Tell Us About Educational Game Design

Stephanie B. Linek (German National Library of Economics (ZBW), Germany)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60960-495-0.ch029


Game-based learning is based on the idea of using the motivational potential of video games within the educational context. Thus, when designing an educational game, not only the fun and game play but also the instructional efficiency of the educational game is of pivotal importance. This chapter provides an overview on media psychological approaches and findings that could be helpful for understanding and creating an educational game. Thereby, a special focus lies on the benefit of an interdisciplinary approach that allows for the integration of an appropriate scientific base from psychology with best-practice game design.
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Cognitive Educational Approaches And Instructional Design

When designing an educational game, one is confronted with a lot of multimedia design decisions that are related to the explanatory parts and the learning elements. Mayer (2003) states “multimedia learning occurs when students build mental representations from words and pictures that are presented to them” (p. 125). Following this definition, also game based-learning can be seen as a kind of multimedia learning since the learning contents of an educational game are often explained by multimedia messages respectively (narrated) animations.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Multimedia Design: Multimedia design (in a broader sense) regards to every combination of words and pictures presented by media.

Media Character: A media character (e.g., game character) is a (social) actor that appear in a specific media (e.g., in a game).

Identification: Identification is a psychological process that allows media users/players to feel like they experience the same like the media/game character they identify with.

Media Psychology: Media Psychology is a subsection of Psychology that applies psychological theories, methods and findings to investigate the intra- and interindividual psychological processes underlying the perception and behavior of humans in the context of media.

Flow-Experience: The so-called flow-experience can be characterized by intense, focused concentration, clear goals, direct, immediate feedback (success and failures are apparent), balance between the perceived challenges and the perceived skills, feeling of control, distortion of the sense of time, loss of self-consciousness (because of being immersed in the activity), and hedonic quality of the experience (intrinsically rewarding).

Parasocial Interaction: Parasocial interaction is the interaction between a media character (artificial or human) and the media user. This kind of interaction is called parasocial, because on the one hand the interaction is social since the mass media users act in way typical for normal social relationships, however on the other hand it is only para-social because it is not reciprocal – since the media figure doesn’t really participate in the interaction and his/her behavior is not (directly) related to the user.

Narratives: The narratives of a game describe the sequence of scenes and events as well as the construction of single scenes (including the behavior of the game characters and the options the user has).

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