You are on page 1of 8

Draft orginally published at: Hannak, C., Pilz, M. & Ebner, M. (2012). Fun - A Prerequisite for Learning Games.

In Proceedings of World Conference on Educational Multimedia, Hypermedia and Telecommunications 2012 (pp. 1292-1299). Chesapeake, VA: AACE.

Fun - A Prerequisite for Learning Games
Christoph Hannak, Michael Pilz, Martin Ebner Social Learning / Information Technology Services Graz University of Technology Austria c.hannak@student.tugraz.at, michael.pilz@student.tugraz.at, martin.ebner@tugraz.at
Abstract: Mobile games are booming. On average, every child in Central Europe aged 15 years has a mobile phone on his/her own today. If a closer look is taken, it can be pointed out that children mainly own a smart phone running on iOS or Android operating systems. With other words, the youth carry very strong and powerful devices in their pockets, which can and should be used for educational purposes too. In this publication we like to introduce a new mobile game basing on the old traditional concept of learning cards but in a new innovative and more collaborating variant. The first prototype is presented that has been tested by a number of students and educators. It can be shown that the game is motivating and engaging. Furthermore an occurring incidental learning effect can be carried out, which leads to the assumption that mobile games can play an important role for the future of education and it makes simply fun.

Introduction
Since it´s very first day multimedia play an interesting role in education due to the fact that teachers as well as students consider interactivity as extremely important within educational processes (Kozma, 1991) (Holzinger & Ebner, 2003). Learning is a basic cognitive process that needs to be done by learners themselves. This means that learning is also an active process constructing knowledge and understanding (Holzinger, 2002). Bearing in mind that not only distributing information, but also engaging learners by authentic tasks – like “Learning By Doing” as Dewey (1916) argued - will be a necessity for a successful learning approach. According to Vygotsky (1978), the relationship between interaction and learning can be summarized in three sentences: • The learner´s achievement level depends on what the learner already knows (previous knowledge). • The mechanism that evolves knowledge is an interaction. • The goal of learning is an interactive problem solving behavior. Thus, the fundamental idea of e-learning is to help learners become actively engaged in collaborative interaction by the help of various computer-supported processes. In other words, e-learning potentially enables completely new didactic scenarios and in particular it can increase motivation (Holzinger & Maurer, 1999) enhancing traditional learning methods. Moreover, also mobile technologies are increasing dramatically. If a look is taken at the availability of mobile phones amongst the youth the 100% owner rate is reached at an age of about 15 (Hoedl, 2009). Furthermore, in Germany as well as Austria there are more mobile phones than inhabitants (Springer, 2006), and according to the Austrian Central Bureau of Statistics 2007 in more than 90% of all private households mobile phones are available. Ellis (Ellis, 2003) has already pointed out in 2003 that PDA/mobile phone device sales will outstrip PC sales, with the majority switching to wireless networks. Therefore the idea of building a mobile game based learning (mGBL) module emerged fulfilling the needs of mobility as well as learning.

Theory of games in education
Game based learning (GBL) is similar to problem based learning (PBL), wherein specific problem scenarios are embedded within a play framework (Barrows & Tamblyn, 1980). PBL as well as GBL provide a more student centered approach and engage the learner to interact with the content stronger (Motschnik-Pitrik & Holzinger, 2002). Furthermore, there are many characteristics of PBL within GBL, for example: unknown outcome, different and numerous paths to reach the learning goal, collaboration possibilities and many more. Bearing in mind that elements of competition and chance are also inherent for games, Mann mentioned that learning through games is manifold (Mann et al., 2002). Especially the possibility to bring real life experiences to the learners is a promising way for learning. The maybe most impressive and essential fact of games is that they are enjoyable. Therefore people in general as well as learners are playing them simply for fun. The player plays primarily a game, because

Draft orginally published at: Hannak, C., Pilz, M. & Ebner, M. (2012). Fun - A Prerequisite for Learning Games. In Proceedings of World Conference on Educational Multimedia, Hypermedia and Telecommunications 2012 (pp. 1292-1299). Chesapeake, VA: AACE. he/she wants to accomplish the game rather than to learn its content or subject. Due to the fact that learning occurs by playing a game it is called incidental learning. According to Lankard (1995), incidental learning occurs when it is unexpected – a byproduct of other activities, such as, for example, playing a game. Malone (1982) pointed out in his studies that there are three essential characteristics for computer games to answer the questions, what makes computer applications enjoyable: challenge, fantasy and curiosity. Due to fact that nowadays mobile devices are very similar to former Personal Computers these principles surely can by assigned also to mobile games. In our specific case we merely concentrate on the issues challenge and curiosity. The aspect of fantasy was neglected. It was supposed to be more interesting for so called adventure games, providing different figures and landscapes. The characteristics of a challenging game are to provide a clear goal and good performance as well as adjustable difficult levels and scoring. The goal should be uncertain and not predicable. Finally, games should be designed to provoke player’s curiosity on an optimal level of information complexity (Piaget, 1951). Malone (1980) emphasizes that the game environments should be neither too complicated nor too simple. Within this publication we like to introduce a new mobile game and present research results about the longtime effect on students’ performance. Further questions are whether learning occurs by gaming on mobile phones and whether games benefits from location awareness.

The Mobile Game "Smartass"
General Concept

Fig. 1. Startscreen of the application The goal of the game called "Smartass" is to seamlessly integrate e-learning into the social and mobile everyday life of students. This game was implemented as a distributed, asynchronous, fast-paced trivia game so as to take advantage of the general popularity and motivation of participating in quiz shows, pub quizzes, and playing trivia games (Holzinger A., Pichler A., Maurer H. 2001). Since it is known that people actually unintentionally learn through playing trivia games (Holzinger A. 1999), this was the most reasonable context for an e-learning game. Different from common games in the e-learning field, "Smartass" focuses even more on game mechanics and competition character, partially based on the game "You don't know Jack". Basically users are confronted with a set of relevant statements from a broad range of topics, accompanied with images when applicable. These statements are answered with either true or false. The game can be played in an asynchronous duel mode as well as with GPS-based statement-pools. For every answer a user gives, he/she receives an immediate feedback about accuracy. Furthermore, it is possible to select a set of topical statements just to have fun on your own. Amongst badges for achievements, statistics, rankings, and

Draft orginally published at: Hannak, C., Pilz, M. & Ebner, M. (2012). Fun - A Prerequisite for Learning Games. In Proceedings of World Conference on Educational Multimedia, Hypermedia and Telecommunications 2012 (pp. 1292-1299). Chesapeake, VA: AACE. a level-system, it features jokers that add the biggest gaming element to "Smartass". These features provide the motivational framework that facilitates the engagement of users (Zichermann G. and Cunningham C. 2011). Detailed Game Description Duel Mode Like mentioned above, the basis of this game is to play against another user. Each player can select his choice of opponent for the challenge. A challenge consists of 15 statements, known as a set, either randomly selected from all existing statements or from a specific category. A duel operates asynchronously, which allows the user to challenge his/her opponent even if the other is offline. This is a major bonus as it does not restrict gaming times for the user. The challenge does not require much time, and can be the perfect solution to occupying time in a productive manner. A player only has to answer the statements from the created challenge. After the player answered all statements, the result will be sent to his/her opponent. When the opponent goes online, he/she will receive a notification regarding the new challenge. The opponent will then have to answer similar statements to his/her challenger. In this case the user, who had been challenged, plays against a fictional character representing the challenger. After this is done, both players will get a message containing details about their points and the duel result. The points are calculated on base of the number of accurately answered statements and the cumulated time. GPS-based Mode The so called “GEO sets” are a special kind of statement sets. Here, the user has the opportunity to link a set of statements to GPS coordinates. These GPS sets can only be played in case the user is close to the given location coordinates. For example, the user creates a set of statements for famous sights in Europe and links them to the GPS coordinate of the Eiffel Tower, the Big Ben, or the Colloseum. When another user is visiting these sights, he/she will receive a notification that he/she could play the GEO set for this city. GEO sets can also be grouped. If a user has played all the GEO sets of a group and he/she is deemed the best player off each set, he/she is awarded a badge of achievement. For example, it could be named "best sights of Europe" badge. GPS sets should take advantage of location based services available today, and their growing amount of users. Jokers and other Game Mechanics Jokers are the most important game mechanics in this game. They can be regarded as a way of countering the opponent with exciting obstacles to enhance the competition amongst the two competitors. Jokers can be bought with credits earned through level-ups and achievements. Thus, the desire to create a greater challenge for their opponents with the use of jokers would be a motivation for users to play and enhance their learning more. This will enable the accumulation of a personal set of jokers to store up for later usage. Jokers can roughly be divided into two groups, the fun jokers and the learning jokers.

Draft orginally published at: Hannak, C., Pilz, M. & Ebner, M. (2012). Fun - A Prerequisite for Learning Games. In Proceedings of World Conference on Educational Multimedia, Hypermedia and Telecommunications 2012 (pp. 1292-1299). Chesapeake, VA: AACE.

Fig. 2. Balloon joker (tapping on a balloon makes it burst)

The fun jokers were implemented purely for gamification, so that learning is not too obvious to the user, hence enforcing incidental learning (Holzinger A., Pichler A., Maurer H. 2001). They are often visual obstacles such as paint splatters or balloons. These jokers can either be removed by an anti-joker or by interactions (balloon joker) as shown in figure 2. These jokers are used as a positive approach to ensure that users of this game would desire to keep playing as they wish to return a challenge back to their opponents. Additionally, the learning jokers complement the fun aspect of the game with the learning element. One of these elements is the mirrored-reading joker. This portion of the jokers produces statements spelt backwards as to be seen in figure 3, which appears as either mirrored or mirrored-inverted text. Mirrored reading practices the general technique of repetition priming that enables the mind to process information more efficiently over the second or more times that it is read. In terms of learning, the task of mirroredreading benefits an increase of activations in a number of brain regions regarding the subject to learn.

Fig. 3. Mirror joker. This is due to the long-term priming involved in mirrored-reading as opposed to the short-term priming which takes place with normal reading. Studies done with mirrored-reading have also been compared alongside the results of tests done on inverted-reversed as well as spelled-backwards texts; they have been shown to be similar (Poldrack R. A., Gabrieli J. D. E. Brain 2001 124: 67-82). The other relevant game mechanics include badges for achievements, levels, and the mentioned credits. Credits are redeemable

Draft orginally published at: Hannak, C., Pilz, M. & Ebner, M. (2012). Fun - A Prerequisite for Learning Games. In Proceedings of World Conference on Educational Multimedia, Hypermedia and Telecommunications 2012 (pp. 1292-1299). Chesapeake, VA: AACE. points that can be traded for jokers; levels divide the experience points into manageable chunks of progress. Badges are a common way to display accomplishments of users publicly. All these gimmicks aim to keep the users' motivation alive (Zichermann G. and Cunningham C. 2011), make them play more, and in that way learn voluntarily. Statistics Result statistics motivate users to make a benchmark for themselves. First, the user can see at one glance whether he/she reached the desired learning goals in the chosen topics. Second, the user is provided with the potential to compare him/herself to the performance of other users, groups (such as classes), universities, companies, or countries within a given context (topic). For to compare users to each other the factual ratio of correct to wrong answers is used, for groups and countries the average of all users belonging to a unit is used. Statistics would be exemplifiers of another motivational factor in this game. Teaching Backend The application will also be a great aid to teachers since it allows the school or class to intertwine the process of having fun and learning in the free time of students. The teacher has the opportunity to create a set of statements about arbitrary topics. The teacher can then share these set of statements with the students. Next, the teacher will encourage the students to answer those statements. This should not be a difficult task. A further incentive could be the factor of a substantial reward such as the inclusion of results from the game is counted towards the final grade. Furthermore, the teaching backend features class statistics providing the possibility to instantly review single students' performance. In other words, teachers possibly might see the advancement of intensive playing students should they have struggled with a topic. This gives teachers the potential of adapting the taught course materials alongside the respective class needs. The use of GPS sets, as mentioned above, is another creative way to bring learning to the day-to-day life of students. By linking sets to GPS coordinates, students can play such sets only in case their location is close to the location coordinates of the set.

Evaluation
We carried out a test comprising 20 users between 18 and 26 years old, the represented target group of the application. The test was made using a set of about 150 statements that covered geography, chemistry, and mathematics of that school level. The statements consisted of general knowledge questions as well as statements of a more particular knowledge. Also included was content the users could have learned at high school. The users played 15 rounds of the game in duel mode, with different intelligence level, or against each other. Each round consisted of 15 statements. We tracked the time they needed for answering a question, the ratio between accurately and inaccurately answered statements as well as the used jokers. Furthermore, we confronted the user with the tracked, correct answers during the game to find out whether statistics are an additional motivational factor or not. After playing the game we asked participants to take part in a short questionnaire to find out their personal opinions on features of the game. Therefore four research questions and hypotheses were defined 1. Q1: Does playing the game results in a better user performance in the long run? H1: Playing the game over and over leads to a higher number of correct answers given; therefore incidental learning effects can be stated 2. Q2: Does implemented Jokers make the game funnier? H2: Jokers helps to make the game funny and are essential for the whole concept 3. Q3: Are statistics as well as scores essential for the game? H3: Statistics and scores are an important part of the game and help to keep players motivated. 4. Q4: Are location-based questions an innovative and challenging part of the game? H4: Location-based questions are enhancing the game in a new innovative way and help to make the game more challenging.

Draft orginally published at: Hannak, C., Pilz, M. & Ebner, M. (2012). Fun - A Prerequisite for Learning Games. In Proceedings of World Conference on Educational Multimedia, Hypermedia and Telecommunications 2012 (pp. 1292-1299). Chesapeake, VA: AACE. Research Question 1 - Does playing the game results in a better user performance in the long run? In figure 4 we can see an obvious coherence between the number of played games and the number of correct answers. In average the users were able to increase the amount of correct answers per game by 115% after playing the game 15 times.

Fig. 4. Tracks of the correct answers given of all 20 test users. X-axis: number of statements. Y-axis: number of rounds Research Question 2 - Does implemented Jokers make the game funnier? As observed from the players and the result of the questionnaire, jokers do add a lot of fun to the game. Most of the participants found them engaging, thus we could confirm our initial thoughts about the jokers.

Fig. 5. Do you like the Jokers?

Research Question 3 - Are statistics as well as scores essential for the game? Statistics were a rather controversial topic. While one third of the participants was highly motivated by the statistics, half of them where less motivated and some of them not at all. However, we did not show the statistics in actual time within the application, but compared the users from time to time to the average on a spreadsheet.

Draft orginally published at: Hannak, C., Pilz, M. & Ebner, M. (2012). Fun - A Prerequisite for Learning Games. In Proceedings of World Conference on Educational Multimedia, Hypermedia and Telecommunications 2012 (pp. 1292-1299). Chesapeake, VA: AACE.

Fig. 6. Did statistics and scores motivate you to play the game? Research Question 4 - Are location-based questions an innovative and challenging part of the game? The feedback about the GPS statements was positive. Many of the users said that they like this feature. Furthermore, the people that said they would use the GPS based service have used some location based mobile application at least once. This leads to the conclusion that GPS statement pools will be used quite a lot.

Fig. 7. Are location-based questions an interesting possibility for you?

Discussion and Conclusion
The evaluation results affirmed our hypothesis. Playing the game leads to a higher positive result after a number of rematches. Learners are able to remember the right results better. Therefore it can be stated that incidental learning occurs. Furthermore, people seem to be motivated because of provided jokers and location based services. Nevertheless, it must be pointed out that the existence of points as well as detailed statistics is no key factor for a challenging game. The provided feedback clearly shows that players especially like the possibility to play against other people independently of time and place. In this paper we presented a new approach for an e-learning game, facilitating more game goodies than other games in this sector do. In terms of topic coverage, it is a general purpose solution with a slight relation to learning cards. Our tests showed that the proposed, uncommon game mechanics, such as the jokers, come with a high degree of motivation, encouraging incidental learning. Finally, it must be pointed out that the content of the questions are manifold. Especially for educators the game provides a possibility to give their children and students an engaging and motivating chance to learn so called hard facts in an innovative new way. And as all evaluation results show – playing the game is enjoyable, which is the precondition for successful games no matter whether they are “normal” or learning games. In the near future also an iPhone-based version will be developed and more testers will be invited to enhance the content pool and to improve the game towards a big-learning pool.

Draft orginally published at: Hannak, C., Pilz, M. & Ebner, M. (2012). Fun - A Prerequisite for Learning Games. In Proceedings of World Conference on Educational Multimedia, Hypermedia and Telecommunications 2012 (pp. 1292-1299). Chesapeake, VA: AACE.

Acknowledgments
We like to express our gratitude to all participating students and educators of our first test run. Equally, we are indebted to our funding agency “Internet Foundation Austria (IPA)” for supporting our efforts to provide a mobile learning game and helping us to work on the enhancement of traditional education.

References
Barrows, H. S., & Tamblyn, R. M. (1980). Problem-based learning: an approach to medical education (Springer series on medical education). New York: Springer. Dewey, J. (1916). Democracy & Education, An introduction to the philosophy of education (Reprint 1997), Rockland (NY): Free Press Ellis, K. (2003) Moving into m-Learning, Training, 40 (10), p. 12-15 Hoedl, S. (2009) m-Learning in schools: A survey on existence of mobile phones, thesis, Graz University of Technology Holzinger, A, Maurer, H. (1999). Incidential learning, motivation and the Tamagotchi Effect: VR-Friends, chances for new ways of learning with computers. CAL99 Abstract Book, London: Elsevier, 70 Holzinger A. (1999). Behavior of people playing trivia quizzes, unpublished work Holzinger A., Pichler A., Maurer H. (2001). Multi Media e-Learning Software TRIANGLE Case-Study. Experimental Results and Lessons Learned, Graz University of Technology Holzinger, A. (2002), Multimedia Basics. Volume 2: Cognitive Fundamentals of multimedial Information Systems. New Delhi: Laxmi-Publications, Available in German by Vogel-publisihing. Holzinger, A., Ebner, M. (2003). Interaction and usability of simulations and animations: a case study of the Flash technology. In Proceedings of: Interact 2003 (pp. 777–780). Zurich. Kozma, R. (1991). Learning with media. Review of Educational Research, 61, 179–201. Lankard, B. (1995). New Ways of Learning in the Workplace. ERIC Digest No. 161. Columbus: ERIC Clearinghouse on Adult, Career, and Vocational Education (ED 385 778) Malone, T. W. (1982). Heuristics for designing enjoyable user interfaces: lessons from computer games. In Proceedings of conference on human factors in computing systems (pp. 63–68). Gaithersburg, MD. Mann, B. D., Eidelson, B. M., Fukuchi, S. G., Nissman, S. A., Robertson, S., & Jardines, L. (2002). The development of an interactive game-based tool for learning surgical management algorithms via computer. The American Journal of Surgery, 183(3), 305–308. Motschnig-Pitrik, R., & Holzinger, A. (2002). Student-centered teaching meets new media: concept and case study. IEEE Journal of Educational Technology and Society, 5(4), 160–172. Piaget, J. (1951). Play, dreams, and imitation in childhood. New York: Norton. Poldrack R. A., Gabrieli J. D. E. (Brain 2001 124: 67-82). Characterizing the neural mechanisms of skill learning and repetition priming. Evidence from mirror reading. Springer, A., (2006) market analyses telecommunication 2006, http://www.portel.de/fileadmin/downloads/pdf/AxelSpringer_TK2006-Sum.pdf (last visited April 2012) Vygotsky, L.S. (1978). Mind in Society. Cambridge (MA): Harvard University Press, 1978 Zichermann G. and Cunningham C. (2011). Gamification by Design. O'Reilly