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  • UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHAMPTON

    Designing Immersive Serious Games

    by

    James Baker

    A thesis submitted in partial fulfilment for the

    degree of Doctor of Philosophy

    in the

    Faculty of Physical Sciences and Engineering

    Department of Electronics and Computer Science

    June 2017

  • UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHAMPTON

    ABSTRACT

    FACULTY OF PHYSICAL SCIENCES AND ENGINEERING

    DEPARTMENT OF ELECTRONICS AND COMPUTER SCIENCE

    Doctor of Philosophy

    DESIGNING IMMERSIVE SERIOUS GAMES

    James Baker

    Serious games, designed for more than entertainment, can be used for educational purposes in

    order to more effectively teach certain ideas. One particular element which has not been

    investigated fully is the idea of immersion in educational games, in terms of how to engage

    learners with such games and to keep them engaged while playing. The subject has been

    approached from various perspectives, including education and gameplay, but the theories

    presented miss important aspects shown in others (such as designing gameplay towards

    learning outcomes), which makes further advancement in the field more difficult. To solve

    this problem, the Immersive Educational Games Model was proposed in this thesis, which

    will help the design of immersive serious games, in terms of providing engaging content and

    educational value. The model integrates key characteristics of instructional design, gameplay,

    immersion, and serious game theories to outline the key considerations in creating compelling

    educational gameplay.

    To validate whether the model can be used to measure immersive qualities, a questionnaire-

    based instrument was created and tested through three experiments, utilising an established

    immersive serious game. While the results show a need for further investigation into

    measurements for immersive states, the instrument demonstrated that the model may be used

    to reliably identify aspects that make a serious game immersive.

  • Contents List of Figures ..................................................................................................................................... iv List of Tables ....................................................................................................................................... vi Acronyms ......................................................................................................................................... viii Acknowledgements ............................................................................................................................. ix Chapter 1. Introduction ................................................................................................................. 1

    1.1 What are Educational Serious Games? ............................................................................. 1 1.2 What are the difficulties in developing educational games? ............................................. 2 1.3 The Research Focus .......................................................................................................... 4 1.4 Structure ............................................................................................................................ 4

    Chapter 2. Literature Review ....................................................................................................... 7

    2.1 Learning Theories ............................................................................................................. 7 General Learning Theories ................................................................................. 7 2.1.1 Learning Theories with Games ......................................................................... 15 2.1.2 Collaborative Learning Theories ...................................................................... 20 2.1.3

    2.2 Immersion, Flow and Challenge ..................................................................................... 24 2.3 Narrative Theory with Games ......................................................................................... 32 2.4 Summary ......................................................................................................................... 36

    Chapter 3. Methodology .............................................................................................................. 37

    3.1 Research Methods ........................................................................................................... 37 Quantitative and Qualitative Research ............................................................. 37 3.1.1 Mixed Methods and Triangulation ................................................................... 38 3.1.2

    3.2 Interviews ........................................................................................................................ 39 3.3 Surveys ............................................................................................................................ 39 3.4 GQM Approach ............................................................................................................... 39 3.5 Game Immersion Measurements..................................................................................... 40

    Eye Tracking ..................................................................................................... 40 3.5.1 External Task (Tangram Puzzle) ....................................................................... 40 3.5.2 Immersion Questionnaire.................................................................................. 41 3.5.3

    3.6 Research Methodology.................................................................................................... 41 Confirmation Methodology .............................................................................. 42 3.6.1 Model Instrument Creation ............................................................................... 44 3.6.2 Experimental Methodology .............................................................................. 45 3.6.3

    Chapter 4. Initial Development of the Immersive Educational Games Model ...................... 47

    4.1 Initial Analysis of Educational Game Effectiveness ....................................................... 47 4.2 Development of the Immersion Model ........................................................................... 51 4.3 The Immersive Educational Games Model ..................................................................... 51

    Education .......................................................................................................... 52 4.3.1 Gameplay .......................................................................................................... 53 4.3.2 Agency .............................................................................................................. 54 4.3.3

    4.4 Summary ......................................................................................................................... 57

    i

  • Chapter 5. Model Verification Stage 1: Expert Interviews ...................................................... 59 5.1 Interview Process ............................................................................................................ 59 5.2 Interview Analysis ........................................................................................................... 60

    Lack of clarity of ILO Focus ............................................................................ 61 5.2.1 Lack of clarity of Presentation .......................................................................... 61 5.2.2 Guidance only when Appropriate ..................................................................... 62 5.2.3 Consequences inherent to Games ..................................................................... 63 5.2.4 Fantasy is a Distraction to Learning ................................................................. 64 5.2.5 Curiosity and Identity Projection not being General Aspects ........................... 65 5.2.6

    5.3 Updated Model Summary ............................................................................................... 66 Chapter 6. Model Verification Stage 2: Player Survey ............................................................. 69

    6.1 Questionnaire Design ...................................................................................................... 69 6.2 Analysis Method and Sampling ...................................................................................... 71 6.3 Survey Analysis ............................................................................................................... 72

    Normality .......................................................................................................... 72 6.3.1 Comparing the Means of the Aspects ............................................................... 74 6.3.2 Questionnaire Internal Consistency .................................................................. 76 6.3.3

    6.4 Updated Model Summary ............................................................................................... 76 Chapter 7. Model Verification Stage 3: Experimental Study .................................................. 77

    7.1 Creating the Instrument Metrics...................................................................................... 77 7.2 Experiment Descriptions .....