Cooperative Vs Competitive Goals In Educational Video Games

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Smith, Peter
Serious games; games; competition; cooperation; expectations; learning games; educational games; goal structures
thesis / dissertation description
The concept of serious games, or using games and gaming technologies for purposes other than purely entertainment, became popularized with the creation of the Serious Games Initiative in 2002 and has continued to grow. While this trend may appear new, the use of games for learning has a rich history and the idea of using a game as a learning platform is an established concept that had has withstood the test of time. Research in this area must move from if games can teach, to how do we improve games that do. Proponents of serious games suggest that they should improve motivation, time on task, motivation to learn, and a litany of other benefits based primarily on the thought that what works in an entertainment game will work in a learning game. Unfortunately, this might not always be the case. For example, a commonly held misconception in learning games is that competition will motivate learner to succeed, as it motivates players of an entertainment game to continue to play. This is, however, not well supported by the learning science literature. Cooperative goal structures commonly lead to increased motivation to learn as well as improved learning outcomes when compared to competition. This research seeks to provide a framework to view games for learning and more specifically explore the structure of challenge in the context of cooperative and competitive goal structures, as well as explore the use of the word game and how it could possibly modify the expectations of the learner.