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Assessment in and of Serious Games: An Overview

DOI: 10.1155/2013/136864

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There is a consensus that serious games have a significant potential as a tool for instruction. However, their effectiveness in terms of learning outcomes is still understudied mainly due to the complexity involved in assessing intangible measures. A systematic approach—based on established principles and guidelines—is necessary to enhance the design of serious games, and many studies lack a rigorous assessment. An important aspect in the evaluation of serious games, like other educational tools, is user performance assessment. This is an important area of exploration because serious games are intended to evaluate the learning progress as well as the outcomes. This also emphasizes the importance of providing appropriate feedback to the player. Moreover, performance assessment enables adaptivity and personalization to meet individual needs in various aspects, such as learning styles, information provision rates, feedback, and so forth. This paper first reviews related literature regarding the educational effectiveness of serious games. It then discusses how to assess the learning impact of serious games and methods for competence and skill assessment. Finally, it suggests two major directions for future research: characterization of the player’s activity and better integration of assessment in games. 1. Introduction Serious games are designed to have an impact on the target audience, which is beyond the pure entertainment aspect [1, 2]. One of the most important application domains is in the field of education given the acknowledged potential of serious games to meet the current need for educational enhancement [3, 4]. In this field, the purpose of a serious game is twofold: (i) to be fun and entertaining, and (ii) to be educational. A serious game is thus designed both to be attractive and appealing to a broad target audience, similar to commercial games, and to meet specific educational goals as well. Therefore, assessment of a serious game must consider both aspects of fun/enjoyment and educational impact. In addition to considering fun and engagement, thus, serious games’ assessment presents additional unique challenges, because learning is the primary goal. Therefore, there is also a need to explore how to evaluate the learning outcomes to identify which serious games are most suited for a given goal or domain, and how to design more effective serious games (e.g., what mechanics are most suited for a given pedagogical goal, etc.). In this sense, the evaluation of serious games should also cover player performance assessment. Performance assessment

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