Note: The GLS 8.0 proceedings are available for download. The paper that relates to this post can be found on pages 257-260.
On June 14, 2012, I presented the results of my latest research on video games and enjoyment. This presentation provided an overview of the Gameplay Enjoyment Model (GEM) that was confirmed using data from a spring 2011 survey of over 300 undergraduate students. In addition, the model’s implications for the design of educational games were discussed. The slides from my presentation are available for download as a PDF file.
The Gameplay Enjoyment Model (GEM)
GEM is composed of six factors that influence player enjoyment of video games: Challenge, Companionship, Competition, Exploration, Fantasy, and Fidelity. Each of these factors is associated with 4-6 specific game design features. Definitions of the factors and summaries of their implications for educational game design are provided here.
Challenge is the enjoyment of games that are difficult to beat and master, set at a challenging difficulty level, and have challenging obstacles to overcome. When the Challenge in a game is well-aligned to players’ preferences for Challenge, experiences of enjoyment and flow are more likely to occur.
Companionship is the enjoyment of games that require more than one player, involve socialization and cooperation, and can be played by many people at parties. Existing educational theories, such as social learning theory and computer-supported collaborative learning, can be examined in a gaming context by designing games that employ Companionship features.
Competition is the enjoyment of games that involve competing against and comparing skills with others, online play, public display of one’s skills, and public recognition of the very best players. Competition is clearly important to the enjoyment of some players, but it has shown both positive and negative effects in educational contexts. Therefore, it is important to align Competition in an educational game to the preferences of players.
Exploration is the enjoyment of games that involve searching for hidden things, discovering unexpected things, exploring unfamiliar places, experimenting with different play strategies, and examining the inner workings of the game. GEM delivers the specific features that underlie Exploration, which were called for in prior research on player types and goal orientation. The stage is set to further examine Exploration, as well as the other GEM factors, and goal orientation in education.
Fantasy is the enjoyment of games that are set in a fantasy world, have imaginary creatures and fictional people, whose characters have abilities that are not found in the real world, and whose characters are a different identity and species than the player’s own. Experimental research in the 80s and 90s found motivational and learning benefits associated with fantasy in games. Employing GEM’s Fantasy features with an understanding player preferences is a promising way to examine the benefits of modern educational games.
Fidelity is the enjoyment of games that have realistic, 3D graphics, lifelike animations, and realistic sound effects. Although often ignored or under appreciated in educational games, Fidelity is important to the enjoyment of certain players. Therefore, educational games should be designed with Fidelity elements that match player preferences.