University of Oulu

Daniel Fernández Galeote, Chubo Zeko, Kristofers Volkovs, Marius Diamant, Mattia Thibault, Nikoletta-Zampeta Legaki, Dorina Rajanen, Mikko Rajanen, and Juho Hamari. 2022. The Good, the Bad, and the Divergent in Game-based Learning: Player Experiences of a Serious Game for Climate Change Engagement. In Proceedings of the 25th International Academic Mindtrek Conference (Academic Mindtrek '22). Association for Computing Machinery, New York, NY, USA, 256–267.

The good, the bad, and the divergent in game-based learning : player experiences of a serious game for climate change engagement

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Author: Galeote, Daniel Fernández1; Zeko, Chubo2; Volkovs, Kristofers2;
Organizations: 1Gamification Group, Tampere University, Finland
2University of Oulu, Finland
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 2.6 MB)
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Language: English
Published: ACM, 2022
Publish Date: 2023-01-10


Engaging citizens with climate change is an urgent and complex issue. Gamified initiatives such as game-based learning are used to promote awareness, emotional connection, and action, but we would benefit from more examples of how players truly play serious games and learn through them, especially regarding climate change, which presents unique characteristics as a learning topic. Thus, we developed a digital game about climate change and pandemics and thematically analyzed 12 players’ experiences with it, including their relationship with the designed path, their possible deviations, and their engagement with the topic. Among our findings, we observe that progressing does not always involve interacting exactly as designed, and that game features that would be problematic otherwise can be accepted in the context of education. We also found that players may resist engaging in morally controversial in-game actions, give up in advance, or progress without understanding their actions’ meaning. They also take actions diverging from a purely learning-oriented purpose, such as talking to and trying to interact with characters. Furthermore, game-based climate change engagement is complex and transcends learning new information. The results imply that game-based learning experiences cannot be completely guided, but designers are encouraged to clarify instructions to avoid moments of confused progress. In addition, players can frame educational games as different from entertainment ones in, e.g., their acceptable text amount, but not necessarily in terms of playful affordances. Accessibility and transparency should be addressed too. Importantly, the pedagogical and engaging value of adding playful interactions allowing for player autonomy, surprise, and character attachment should be considered. These can support player engagement and therefore maximize the educational value of games. Regarding climate change, we provide cognitive, affective and behavioral implications, including a call for designs that consider player agency and context.

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Pages: 256 - 267
DOI: 10.1145/3569219.3569414
Host publication: Academic Mindtrek '22: Proceedings of the 25th International Academic Mindtrek Conference
Conference: International Academic Mindtrek Conference
Type of Publication: A4 Article in conference proceedings
Field of Science: 113 Computer and information sciences
Funding: This work was supported by the Nessling Foundation (202100217), the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Programme Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (840809), the Academy of Finland Centre of Excellence in Game Culture Studies (312396 GameCult), and the Academy of Finland Flagship Programme (337653 Forest-Human-MachineInterplay (UNITE)).
Copyright information: © 2022 Copyright held by the owner/author(s). This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution International 4.0 License.