The prestigious International Journal of Serious Games has published this paper on designing a framework on pervasive games where the research team of three namely, Heinrich Söbke, Jannicke Baalsrud Hauge and Ioana A. Stefan has taken the location-based, augmented-reality mobile game Ingress as their reference point. This work is partially funded under the Horizon 2020 Framework Program of the European Union, BEACONING project.
Pervasive games are becoming mature with every passing day and we see the proof from the huge success of Pokémon Go and Ingress from Niantic Inc. Researchers all over the world are trying to invent ways to transform learning through games, in this case pervasive games to be exact as it is a great source of engaging learning experience. The problem is, there are not many reliable methodologies to design and implement efficient and effective pervasive learning scenario despite of their great potential in learning. As a solution to this problem, our researchers took 133 long-term Ingress players and did a survey to examine the game’s success and underlying reasons for that. Ingress has a large community of players and third-party tool suppliers, which ensures a rich experience for players through outdoor activities, sociability and exploration. The perfect balance between user skills, social interaction and player motivation keeps the game flow running for a remarkably longer period where the players have integrated the game in their daily life. On average, they spends an hour per day to play this game and have come up with a way to adjust their regular routine.
The reason behind reframing PGDF is, we try to use Digital Educational games to bridge the gap between theory and practice as games and gamified lessons results in more active learning experience. However, the main challenge remains the game design as many times, they designers focus more on the pedagogical aspect rather than to motivation and engagement resulting in less immersion for the students with a negative impact on learning outcome. The literature on pervasive games are in the dawn of their own kind and therefore it is difficult to define and discuss in detail. This genre of game has gained a strong place in the gaming world by making a cultural shift with the use of context-awareness, augmented reality (AR), GPS, GIS and thus creating numerous businesses in the market. This paper attempts to analyze the reasons behind player motivation and engagement through pervasive game, player behavior, use of gained knowledge to refine PGDF and come up with a reframing structure with help of which we will be able to enhance the pervasive learning experiences. The researchers used a questionnaire consisting 76 items in 7 groups as a tool to conduct an investigation on the motivation of Ingress players to find out the design traits of successful pervasive game in order to transfer the knowledge in the context of designing educational games for effective learning.
To onboard the reader in the same page as them, our researchers first gives us a detailed description of Ingress as a game. The keywords, the interface, how the game play works, game mechanics, achievements, points, rules for upgrading to next level, etc. be the very basics. Then comes the additional aspects of socializing, emergence of an internationally expanded community, third-party tool supplier and player behavior gets discussed in a very detailed level. The answers from the players are represented in an organized, statistical form to support the discussion and arguments within the context of pervasive gaming and it’s outcome in different aspects of our research. Ingress field art is a strong representation of the player behavior inside the game. It displays the connection among the players in local and international levels. Field art needs extensive planning and commitment in creation.
The result of the survey displays a perfect harmony between outdoor activities, sociability and exploration. These three goals keeps the player motivated for a long time. We see the four kinds of player type being satisfied within the game. Achievers, killers, socializers and explorers all have their own reason to stay and play for long.
The development of the first version of Pervasive Game Design Framework (PGDF) was from the results of two workshops organized at ICEC 2015 and 2016. This version was made from the results of the investigation ran on Ingress in order to make a guideline for Digital Educational Games (DEG) development based on experiences collected from Educational Games (EG). Later, the results of the questionnaire and an analysis of the game has verified and strengthened the refining process of PGDF, which was created to set a reference for the design of pervasive educational games. From the framework, we see that employing context-aware services in DEGs increases the potential of the engagement of players and their learning outcome by exploring pervasive contexts. The motivational triggers need to remain unchanged in the context of weaving the specific pedagogical objectives into the game flow and the pervasive context can help to reach this goal while designing DEGs. There has to be a process for assessment within the DEG and Ingress demonstrates different ways of assessment procedure, some of which has the potential to evaluate players in the DEG context. The balance between players’ skill and the difficulty level in the game is essential to keep the players in the Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD), which results into learning stimulation. The players need to see the progress through different assessment metrics, which keeps them motivated for longer time and thus increases the learning outcome. Li et al. (2016) conclude that to “ensure a successful social gaming experience, designers should carefully manage the difficulty for gameplay, provide efficient communication channels for players, and cultivate the player-friendly culture within the game to ensure players’ continuous dedication.” The design of the game design and game mechanics should cater to all motivational components and satisfy the design goals for a successful pervasive educational game. All of these components of the framework finally results in a game flow that keeps the player involved over greater period of time and learning outcome is achieved through the implementation of each details. At the end, we see that, the results of the survey on Ingress validates the proposed dimensions for designing pervasive educational contexts. The strength of entertainment game is driving motivation and we see competence, autonomy and social inclusiveness as three most important factors to balance this motivation in players.
However, when constructing educational games, assessment metrics are linked to specific pedagogical objectives. Existing metrics in EGs usually require customization for education, but in some cases they can be explored as such. The research has highlighted the importance of balancing user skills and the difficulty level of the game, in order to strengthen the motivation and avoid frustration. Social interaction has been identified as a key element when constructing pervasive context. Social mechanics can be explored in the design process to engage users and sup-port the achievement of specific pedagogical objectives. Our researchers wishes to expand the horizon of their samples as here, the player sample only includes long term Ingress players. They wishes to target a more pervasive game-specific player type rather than Bartle’s taxonomy to identify whether the findings regarding PGDF applies to a general scenario or it is more relevant in the cases of active game players. This refers to the identification of appropriate learning objectives as well as to the design of fitting educational scenarios.