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Achieving Game Goals at All Costs?: The Effect of Reward Structures on Tactics Employed in Educational Military Wargaming
KTH, School of Computer Science and Communication (CSC), Media Technology and Interaction Design, MID. Försvarshögskolan.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-1019-8933
2014 (English)In: FRONTIERS IN GAMING SIMULATION, Springer Publishing Company, 2014, 13-20 p.Conference paper (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

A key motive in using gaming for educational purposes is to enhance user motivation and involvement to the subject matter. Within military education, games have always been utilized as a means to think clearly about military operations. However, some research results have shown that gaming, regardless of what the game is supposed to portray, is a meaningful activity in itself, and this can distract the learner away from the educational objective. Playing the game, then, becomes similar to competition, such as in sports where the objective is to only win the game. The player directs actions to achieving game goals even though some actions are inappropriate from a learning perspective. To shed light on the discrepancy between playing a game to win and playing a game to learn, we conducted an experiment on cadets playing an educational wargame. By varying the conditions of the game, playing with or without points, while still in line with the learning objective, we were interested to see what impact it had on the tactics employed by cadets. The results showed that adding reward structures, such as points, changed the outcome of the game, that is, groups playing with points played the game more aggressively and utilized the military units more extensively. These findings suggest that changes in the game design, although educationally relevant, may distract learners to be more oriented towards a lusory attitude, in which achieving the game goals becomes players' biggest concern.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Springer Publishing Company, 2014. 13-20 p.
, Lecture Notes in Computer Science, ISSN 0302-9743 ; 8264
National Category
Human Computer Interaction
URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-156867DOI: 10.1007/978-3-319-04954-0_2ISBN: 978-3-319-04954-0ISBN: 978-3-319-04953-3OAI: diva2:768254
44th Conference of the International-Simulation-and-Gaming-Association (ISAGA)

QC 20141208

Available from: 2014-12-03 Created: 2014-12-03 Last updated: 2014-12-09Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Gamer mode: Identifying and managing unwanted behaviour in military educational wargaming
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Gamer mode: Identifying and managing unwanted behaviour in military educational wargaming
2014 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Games are rule-governed systems at the same time as they are fiction, simulating or representing a real or an abstract world. This defining characteristic may create for different forms of tensions, that is, at different times players may focus on the rules, the fiction or on both during game play. In military education with games, this poses a problem when the learner becomes too focused on the rules, trying to win at any price rather than taking the representation and what it implies in terms of permissible behaviour seriously. In here we attempt to understand how participants in a wargaming situation act out this tension by studying the interaction between the player and the game in military tactical training.

The results first of all confirm that there is a tension – there are occasions where players are mainly concerned with winning the wargame, disregarding what the theme is meant to represent. I propose the term gamer mode to refer to this player orientation: players in gamer mode have an extreme rule-focused interaction, meaning they behave rationally with respect to game rules but irrationally with respect to the portrayed real-life situation they are training for. Gamer mode can probably occur for many reasons. This thesis documents two contributing factors. The first concerns whenever the game does not match players’ expectation on mimicking warfare. In these situations players may find that the game breaks the fragile contract of upholding an accurate representation of warfare. The other factor that may lead to gamer mode are game design features such as explicit reward structures or victory conditions.

To remedy the situation, the instructor can, in real-time, actively support players’ orientation towards the game and explain in-game events, keeping them on track. When gamer mode occur I argue that the conditions for learning are compromised as the gaming activity becomes its own learning subject, blurring and overshadowing the learning objective. Although the results suggest that gamer mode is mainly detrimental to learning I conclude that gamer mode is a natural way students will approach games and as such, needs to be dealt with by the instructor.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: KTH Royal Institute of Technology, 2014. viii, 103 p.
TRITA-CSC-A, ISSN 1653-5723 ; 2014:18
Gamer mode, military education, wargaming, game-based learning
National Category
Human Computer Interaction
Research subject
Human-computer Interaction
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-156886 (URN)978-91-7595-399-1 (ISBN)
Public defence
2015-01-23, Kollegiesalen, Brinellvägen 8, KTH, Stockholm, 13:15 (English)

QC 20141209

Available from: 2014-12-09 Created: 2014-12-04 Last updated: 2015-01-20Bibliographically approved

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