Nowadays, computer games are played in a technology-rich environment equipped with laptops, smart phones, game consoles (mobile and stationary), set-top boxes, and other digital devices. It is believed that the intrinsic motivation for games in young people can be combined with educational content and objectives into what Prensky calls “digital game-based learning” . In recent years especially, the innovative mobile electronic products, such as phones and Android phones, present new opportunities for Game- Based Learning (GBL). These devices can be combined with game content to be played in different locations such as classrooms, offices, homes, and outside, for formal and/or informal learning. Further, new game development tools, including some game editors, simplify the game development process and even let game players create their own games without programming. In this context, not only can a game be used for learning, but game development can also be used as assignments in education.
This thesis investigates how to apply games or game development as a motivation for lecture-based coursework learning using current computer technology. The term “lecture games” is defined and categorized in order to identify the research scope. Generally, games can be integrated in coursework in three ways. First, games can be used instead of traditional exercises motivating students to put more effort into the work, and giving the teacher and/or teaching assistants an opportunity to monitor how the students progress with the exercises in real-time. Second, games can be played within lectures to improve the participation and motivation of students. These two approaches presented above are categorized as “Game as a motivation for lectures”. The third way, categorized as “Game development as a motivation for lectures”, involves modification or development of a game as a part of coursework using a Game Development Framework (GDF) to learn specific skills. The latter method is termed “Game Development-Based Learning” (GDBL). This term is used to define a new research area. The GDF denotes the toolkits, which can be used to develop/build/modify games, e.g. game engines, game editors, game (simulation) platforms, or even an Integrated Development Environments (IDE) such as Visual C++. GDBL is typically used in computer-related courses, but can also be used in other fields, e.g., literacy in primary education . Based on these concepts, a major challenge is to find a supportive theory from the perspective of game design and pedagogy, to guide the process of applying a game or game development in learning in the context of a technology-rich environment, and evaluate the results in education. In summary, the research goal is to use supportive theory and current computer technology as dual basis to facilitate lecture games in the contemporary technology-rich environment.
In order to describe the research questions and contributions clearly and systematically, the research questions have been grouped according to two topics. Topic 1 - “Games as a motivation for lectures”, deals with identifying supportive theory to guide the design and evaluation of lecture games, as well as application of current relevant technology and appropriate peripherals to provide various play experiences in the Lecture Games project. Topic 2 - “Game development as a motivation for lectures”, is concerned with game development based learning (GDBL), including the researchers’ views of GDBL, and the GDBL characteristics in terms of supportive theory and the current technologyrich environment.
For the study of topic 1, the relevant literature review was undertaken to get an overview of the existing research, and four case studies were conducted with four multiplayer games, using quiz and other concepts, on various devices, including smart phones in lectures. In the study of topic 2, it was found that there were no existing literature reviews available, so a systematic literature review of GDBL was carried out. In addition, quasi-experiments were run integrating two GDFs, Microsoft XBOX New Architecture (XNA) Game Studio and Android Software Development Kit (SDK), in exercises for a software architecture course where students worked in teams to develop a game using their knowledge from this course. Then, based on the data and experiences in the above research, the supportive theory was identified for each topic to enrich the theoretical foundation for GBL. Further, the GBL field was extended in this study by including GDBL.
The main contributions for game as a motivation for lectures are:
C1: Identification of research topics and cases in regards to the recent technology-rich environment within the context of game as a motivation for lectures.
C2: An analysis chart of applying supportive theory and enabling technology to guide the study of educational games for lectures.
The main contributions for game development as a motivation for lectures are:
C3: Identification of a set of research themes and elements in GDBL.
C4: Identification of the factors contributing to the success or failure of GDBL.
C5: Framework of linked elements for the design of GDBL.
Trondheim: NTNU-trykk , 2013. , 263 p.