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           The Future Outlook of Serious Games 



  and Interface Design 



      Sean Smith 

Master of Arts in Interactive Media program                Elon University         Copyright 2009 Sean Smith.  All rights reserved. 

Abstract. The serious game industry offers unique opportunities to institutions such as schools and business and how they educate their students or employees. However, they have faced significant challenges inhibiting them from reaching their full potential. Research within today’s technology and interface design hopes to turn this around. This paper’s main focus is on the interface design of serious games, which has contributed to making them an effective tool that can be used to enhance children’s ability to learn in a classroom setting. There has been very few studies to date pertaining to this topic, especially those resulting in quantitative data that would give insight into the effectiveness of serious games being used in a classroom setting. Despite this, the following pages will discuss some of the theories in communication and education that affect the design of interfaces from a pedagogical perspective. In addition we cover the past, present, and future or serious games, the practice of interface design, and the roles interfaces play in the development and advancement of serious games. Finally, other aspects of serious game development such as usability testing and user-centered design involving young children will be covered as well as some psychology will be reviewed. Keywords: Serious games, Interface design, User interface, Education, Learning, Children, Usability Testing, User-Centered Design, Learner Centered design.

Introduction It has been well documented over the years that American students’ scores in science and mathematics have been on downturn and well below the scores of other countries. In 1998 the reported that U.S. student performance in Advanced Mathematics and Physics was among the lowest of countries that participated in the testing. Of the 15 countries included in the assessment, U.S. students were outperformed by 11 other countries and did not perform better than any other country in mathematics. In physics, 14 other countries averaged better scores than U.S. students with only 1 country sharing the same average (National Center for Educational Statistics, 1998). A 2008 report by the U.S. Department of Education indicated that scores in science has shown no change since 1990 (National Center for Educational Statistics, 2009) for students in grades 4, 8, and 12. The average score in 2005 for these students was 147, measured on a 500 point scale.

(National Center for Educational Statistics, 2009) With the increase in school class sizes across this country as well as decreased budgets and teacher salaries, these trends in science and math comprehension are not going to change anytime soon. With a higher number of students per class it becomes more difficult to structure a course that can reach out and engage all students. The logistics to organizing activities or assignments that would normally engage and enlighten students, such as field trips are near impossible. Students are usually relegated to reading the usual

texts and listening to lectures. They are forced to read texts with little or no social experience in the topics they cover (Gee, 2003). Public schools in particular have a difficult time engaging students and providing new and effective means of educating. Because of the lack of budgeting for schools many cannot provide or replace the necessary technological tools that could increase students’ learning potential and provide a higher education. The victims of these problems in public education systems across the United States are the children. They are not getting the quality education that they deserve. One tool that could be very effective in the education of elementary and secondary school students is the video game. There are many advantages that video games offer that help enlighten and teach students. The most important one is that they are extremely engaging. Video games could be the most engaging activity people can do in this day and age (Prensky, 2001). Psychologist, Jean Piaget believed that play performs an important role in a child’s cognitive development. Piaget modernized the constructivist theory, one of the betterknown developmental psychology theories that focus on the acquisition of knowledge. Constructivism describes how humans build knowledge through experiences and sort it such a way that they compare experience with knowledge they already possess without having to retain all the information provided by the experience. In regards to children, through play they are experiencing new things, comparing the new experiences to existing knowledge. This existing knowledge or cognitive structures for understanding the world then stores the new experiences thus slowly mature into the complex reasoning abilities that typify adult thought (Kurland and Kurland, 1987). Video games are, by definition, a form of play that have a deep biological and evolutionary purpose for human beings specifically having to do with learning. This is the same as young lion cubs playing with each other, learning effective hunting behaviors and methods. A game’s primary function is to be an education tool. When a child participates in a game they use that tool to learn various values and skills. Play is something that one chooses to do. Therefore it provides a relaxed state in the player that allows them to be completely immersed in a game and absorb the information it provides (Prensky, 2001). Games give users pleasure and enjoyment enticing participants to return to the games over and over again. They also have rules that give players structure, and goals that motivate. In video games players have to find solutions to problems in order to advance through a game. They face challenges and conflict that build confidence when resolved. A lot of current games even have elaborate stories, giving players a need to care and feel emotion. Video games are also inherently interactive. They allow players to socialize with both the computer itself and with other players. These intrinsic characteristics of video games that can aid in child development have led some to focus on developing games with the intent of educating children, not just for

their entertainment. The term given to this genre of video games is Edutainment. Unfortunately, many of these games have been very unsuccessful and there are a number of reasons that contribute to this. One glaring reason is the content of these games themselves. Most were mere tests or study lessons candy coated with a little entertainment (Bergeron, 2006). Another reason for edutainment’s failure, and maybe the most important one, was that of user-interface design. The interface of these games usually weren’t designed with children in mind. Many designers forget that children are a lot different from adults in that they see, process and handle situations and objects in their own way (Druin, 2002; Berman, 1997), different from adult. Little usability testing involving children was done, so it was unknown what types of interface designs were most appropriate for children of different age groups. The coming chapters will cover: the past, present and future of educational video games as well as their interface design; forecast the possibilities in the educational video game industry; and elaborate on ideas and technologies that could lead to the design of highly engaging and enlightening tools that could have a positive impact on a child’s education. However, before looking forward let’s take a look back. Determining the future of serious games requires an observation and an appreciation of the history of video games (Bergeron, 2006).

Video Games Video games have become intertwined in the culture of western civilization ever since the first personal video game, Pong, was introduced to the world in 1972. From that moment on, video games have fascinated and excited users with the ability to interact with an electronic device like never before. In 2007, video games were being played by 65 percent of Americans (McDaniel, 2009; Entertainment Software Association, 2008). Video games converted our televisions into an alternate reality. They became a place where we can take the form of something or someone other than ourselves. They were a new and aesthetically pleasing form of art that allowed us to experience new and exotic things without having to leave our living rooms. Over the years video games have advanced and developed in a number areas including visual graphics, user interface design, and functionality. In the beginning, Pong’s visual graphics consisted of two white rectangles called “paddles” on each side of the screen, a white line in the middle, and a square dot that represented ping-pong ball. The game was controlled with the use of a handheld unit with a knob, which was turned to manipulate the paddles up and down in attempts of blocking the ball. From Pong, came Atari and other game systems such as Intellivision, that were more advanced in their design and graphics. When Nintendo released its first, 8-bit console in

1981, it was the beginning of a boom in the video game industry. The popularity of the Nintendo Entertainment System led to the emergence of new video game companies putting out new systems such as the Sony PlayStation and Sega Genesis, which offered better controls and a larger variety games with improved graphics. With the rapid advancement and growth in the technology and design of video games, today’s consoles like Microsoft’s Xbox 360, the Sony PlayStation, and Nintendo Wii are more than just video games they are multimedia platforms. These state of the art consoles not only give users the ability to play video games with incredibly life-like graphics and highly advanced wireless controllers, they can also play music, movies, and connect us to the Internet enhancing gameplay and providing players with options. In just over thirty years the technological advancements of video games has influenced the way the a large number of people in the United States, Europe, and Asia now live their lives. Video games are having a profound affect in changing our social structure and behaviors. They are not just games that users find entertaining, they also provide a player with information and social connections from all around the world. When those who participate in the use of video games gather and share this knowledge to inform others, it allows for new ideas and advancements to occur in a society, thus shaping our world. An example of this theory is Nintendo’s Wii Fit, an exercise game that promotes and encourages physical activity and maintaining a healthier lifestyle through its play. If a number of people in a given area all played this game and obtained the same knowledge and skill sets, this in turn would make a community as a whole healthier. The entertainment value is what makes video games so appealing and popular. The majority of video games available on the market today are designed for the sole purpose of entertaining users (Bergeron, 2006). The satisfaction that users get from playing video games and their desire for more is what has made the video game industry so successful. In 2008 alone, video games generated more than $21 million in revenue (Ortutay, 2009).

Serious Games From within the realm of video games there is a genre of games that are designed and developed for the primary function of educating. These are commonly known in the industry (for now), as serious games. The name for this genre has evolved over the years and is sure to change again in the near future as the designs and interfaces of games advance and provide more than just knowledge. It is now common practice in the educational game community to avoid the label edutainment because of a bad reputation the genre has earned with educators because of the poor products of the past (Bergeron, 2006). Despite this reputation there have been a few rather successful serious computer games developed in the 70’s and 80’s that were rather effective at both entertaining students and

providing them with knowledge. The most popular of these games were The Oregon Trail and Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? The former educated students about history and life on the trail in the western frontier of the 19th century while the latter taught children about world geography, languages, and cultures. Both of these games were very effective at attracting and maintaining the attention of children while still getting users to absorb the educational content. The idea and practice of designing games that were entertaining but still effectively educated children is not new. As soon as video games arrived people began looking into how to do just this. Psychologists, educators and game developers could immediately see the potential that video games possessed from both an educational standpoint and a commercial one (Bergeron, 2006). For starters serious games allow players to examine complicated or dangerous scenarios by grounding ideas to specific, yet virtual, examples (McDaniel, 2009). Video games simulate real life circumstances or they can designed to created altered realities. For example a game such as Crayon Physics Deluxe (Koonigames, 2008;, can be designed to offer different interfaces and gameplay mechanics for simulating scientific principles. These games have the possibility being used as tools for teaching physics concepts (2009). In addition, Dr. Rudy McDaniel (personal communication, December 1, 2009), Assistant Professor of Digital Media at the University of Central Florida says, “serious games offer a safe place for students to explore and fantasize”. This is what James Gee (2003) calls the “psychosocial moratorium principle” in which students are actually encouraged to take risks that they would not take in the real world because the consequences of their actions are less severe. As early as the late seventies, the first studies about serious games were published. These helped to establish fields of research that were related to the motivation for learning and cognitive development through video games. A number of studies indicate that many video games are helpful in the development of skills such as attention, spatial concentration, problem-solving, decision-making, collaborative work, and creativity (De Aguilera and Méndiz, 2003). One of the leading researchers in this field is Seymour Papert, an educational technologist from MIT. He, like Piaget, believes that video games have the ability to promote cognitive development, yet he does express the difficulties in finding a proper balance between educational and entertaining content put into a game that will make it a valuable serious game (Brown, 2008). In the 1980’s Papert had a personal vision to completely change the education system by putting control of computers into the hands of children and teachers. This vision contrasted with the prior belief of using a network of a computer-based instructional delivery system using a practice and drill style of education. This prior system did not intend to change what was taught, but simply teach it more efficiently

(Kurland and Kurland, 1987). One of his contributions to interface design in educational games was with the Logo programming language that encouraged a new philosophy of learning and education. Rather than prescriptive-lessons delivered by computers, Papert believed that computers should be used to create “microworlds” or environments in which the properties of the computer system can be discovered by the student though exploration (1987). For Logo, he and other researchers at MIT designed an electronic turtle, an interface that children could relate to and enjoy. The turtle was a robot that held a pen and would travel along a large piece of paper creating different designs based on how it travelled across the paper. Papert claimed that children could develop fundamental insights into the nature of mathematics by manipulating the turtle (give it commands) to create interesting designs and constructions (Kurland and Kurland, 1987). Serious games, by virtue of their entertainment qualities have a potentially unlimited market value. There is no reason why serious games can’t get a good size slice of the video game industry pie. They possess the same basic qualities that make entertainment or commercial games so successful. However, the success of entertainment games is one of the main factors inhibiting the popularity of serious games. The quality of serious games that have come out in the past cannot compete with commercial games on an entertainment standpoint. Regardless of how entertaining a serious game may have been, it still couldn’t attract users as effectively as a commercial game because it still maintained content based on education (Kirriemuir, 2002). Educators have had a hard time accepting serious games into a classroom setting because most teachers in today’s schools don’t possess the necessary knowledge or understanding the games themselves. They find it difficult and time consuming to learn the games themselves so they can include it into their curriculum in a way that is constructive. Teachers also don’t understand the role they play in teaching with serious games (Bruckman and Bandlow, 2002). Because serious games fall under the category of video games, they were subjected to the same scrutiny and stigma given to commercial games by lobbyists and members of congress in the 1990’s and early 2000’s. This was especially true following the Columbine shootings of 2001. The majority of studies during this time concentrated on the assumed negative effects of video games. It was believed that games had a negative influence on users causing them to act out aggressively and commit violent crimes. In the wake of the negative light that was cast on video games as a whole, they lost some of their credibility and were often judged as only a useless form of entertainment (De Aguilera and Méndiz, 2003). It’s not difficult to understand why serious games have not become more popular and an integral part of our communities. They may possess all the qualities and characteristics that could make video games an effective tool to enhance education systems and school function, but they have run into numerous roadblocks along the way.

In addition to all the other drawbacks, interface design was a major setback to serious games’ popularity. In the past many games were poorly designed and not accommodating to the cognitive and physical abilities of young students (Shneiderman, 1998). Most designers were male adults who typically wanted to design games that they would find enjoyable. They were inclined to assume that children are creative, intelligent, and capable of using games that they could play. Most likely the designers had good intensions in that they believed in children and what they could accomplish. However, in reality they could not possibly relate to what it’s like being a child and what kids are and are not capable of (Bruckman and Bandlow, 2002). In contrast to most of the other downfalls and shortcomings to serious games of the past, interface design is an aspect that can be controlled and improved. In order for serious games to be become a viable educational tool, a focus on new techniques and practices in interface design will have to be established. Interface design plays a significant role in determining whether a serious game is entertaining and captivating while fulfilling the task of educating students. The most successful serious games will include user interfaces that are developed with the user and the serious content in mind (Bergeron, 2006).

Interface The user interface (UI) is the portal through which video games provide the values and skills that aid in children’s development. Also known as the human-computer interface (HCI), it can be defined at as the connection or communication between a video game or computer and human user. The original interface for computers was first demonstrated in 1968 with Doug Engelhart’s famous “Mother of All Demos”. It introduced the idea of using a graphic interface to represent data in the form of icons or symbols. Data that was once stored in the form of a bunch of 0’s and 1’s, was now displayed on the computer screen as an image, giving the data a location (Johnson, 1997). Previously, organizing data within the computer required the typing of various line commands into the computer to get a desired result. With Engelhart’s new interface, the idea was that a user could simply point at the data, now that it was an image, and drag it, open it, or manipulate it in any number of ways (Johnson, 1997). In addition to Engelhart’s new graphic interface, he also made a large contribution to computers’ physical interface. The tool he devised to point and direct files on his graphic interface would develop into one of the most important computer devices ever created…the mouse. By converting the data into images that could be seen and manipulated users gained control over the information. A user could now directly command the data instead of telling the computer to do it (Johnson, 1997). The idea of

using files was a way to represent data in a form that users could recognize and relate to, giving them a sense of ownership over the information. Over the years, interfaces have developed in ways that now allow computers and video games to communicate physically, visually, emotionally, intelligently with their human counterparts. A good interface design will allow users to completely immerse themselves into exciting and exotic worlds, known as being “plugged in”. This is the result of the design principles put into these interfaces that provide the most optimal way of affecting users. Although there are no formal guidelines to the design of game interfaces, developers do rely on the past failures and successes of serious games to draw insight from (Bergeron, 2006). From these heuristics, a general list of best practices has emerged guiding future designers in developing effective user interfaces. Ben Shneiderman (1998), of the University of Maryland’s Human-Computer Interaction Laboratory, is one of the leading researchers in the field of interface design. From these heuristics and his own research and practice, he has compiled a list of basic principles he calls the eight golden rules of interface design: 1.

Strive for consistency: When designing the interface of a game, things like actions, icons, layout, and fonts should remain constant throughout.


Enable frequent users to use shortcuts: More advanced players require shortcuts so they may move through the game at an increased pace. Without this consideration advanced users get bored and disengaged.


Offer informative feedback: For every command given to the game by a user, it should be reciprocated with a form of feedback. Provide minor feedback for minor actions and more significant feedback for major actions.


Design dialogs to yield closure: A game should have a sequence of actions grouped into a beginning, middle, and end. As a user completes tasks they feel a sense of accomplishment and relief.


Offer error prevention and simple error handling: Try to design a system where users cannot make a serious mistake. If errors are encountered offer simple yet specific instructions to correct the error.


Permit easy reversal of actions: A user’s actions should always be reversible. This relieves anxiety and lets the user feel safe to explore.


Support internal locus of control: Give the user a sense of control. Keep actions, data entry, and ability to acquire necessary information uncomplicated. More complexity built in than necessary causes the player to become annoyed and dissatisfied.


Reduce short-term memory load: Organize and present information to a user in a minimalist form. Provide only necessary information for that given moment.

By following these eight rules, designers have the best chance of developing interfaces that are playful and bring out the human values inherent in games as well as develop the cognitive abilities in children. Interface design of serious games is an art and a science that requires the knowledge of multiple disciplines. There are many theories from the fields of psychology, pedagogy, sociology, and art that go into the development of useful serious game interfaces. It is a definite advantage for designers have a firm grasp of all these disciplines, though not necessary. Some are turning to the idea of involving children and teachers in the design process. Knowing that in order to create a good serious game, a designer must know and understand his/her intended user, their capabilities, and what they intend on learning through a serious game.

User-centered Design Researchers like James Gee and Kurt Squire are starting to take a serious look at new game development processes that will improve the effectiveness of serious games through their project, Education Arcade (Brown, 2008). They are part of a team of education and game developers from MIT and the University of Wisconsin that is designing serious games and looking to prove that they can be an effective teaching and learning tool (Barr, P. et al., 2007). The Education Arcade arose from MIT and Microsoft’s collaboration to develop game concepts that merge math, science, and engineering with the latest in gameplay (Bergeron, 2006). They and other researchers in these fields, like Allison Druin are looking at the concept of user-centered design (UCD), or in the case of serious games, learner-center design (LCD). Using the techniques of Creative Inquiry and Participatory Design (Druin, 2002; Bruckman and Bandlow, 2002), this concept includes a product’s intended audience into the design process. In the serious game field, the intended audience or users are children. Children work side-by-side with the designers providing pertinent feedback and thoughts on a game’s interface design. As a result, the designers gain a new insight into the capabilities and limitations of a younger user. At different times throughout the process of UCD, children can be included in a number of ways that will be explained shortly (Druin, 2002). In addition to including children in design research it is also vitally important to involve both subject experts and teachers. Experts bring insight and knowledge to the project that make game as realistic, valid, and meaningful as possible (Hartveveld et al., 2009).

Experts can provide specific knowledge in their fields of expertise, allowing designers to include this into the designs of interfaces, thus providing realism. Because serious games are ultimately designed for use in the classroom, input from educators and educational theorists is essential. They provide appropriate pedagogy, or approach to teaching and learning, for a game and the educational content it’s intended to present (Bruckman and Bandlow, 2002). In addition, involving teachers in the design allows developers to gain insight into the challenges teachers face when using games in the classroom. With this feedback developers can consider designs that help teachers incorporate the game into their curriculum and work with the game to facilitate learning. Teachers aid a serious game’s effectiveness by assisting students with the complex tasks of interpretation and critical reflection (Brown, 2008). When teachers are involved in the development of serious games they can gain a better understanding of the pedagogy delivered by a game and construct better lesson plans that incorporate the game (McDaniel, 2009). Another reason to include teachers is that a rapport and understanding can be created between the serious game industry and teachers, dispelling the negative views of the past. Including them in the design empowers teachers with knowledge of a serious game and how it works and a better understanding how teaching can benefit from them (Druin, 2002). When working with children in UCD, the first role a child can play in the design process is that of user. The studying of a user's interaction with a game to determine its functionality is called usability testing. The military has been using this concept for decades with the development of simulators used for flight and tank training. The role of user is the oldest and most common use of children in design. In the process of usability testing, one of the most important but typically overlooked aspects of the design process, children are observed, surveyed, and tested before and after game use. Dr. Natalie Underberg (personal communication, December 1, 2009), Assistant Professor of Digital Media at the University of Central Florida says that “usability testing is very helpful in understanding users and how they interact with a game.” She emphasized the importance of developers to use an objective third party, such as children, to participate in the usability testing who have not been involved in the game development. Content designers can easily end up designing an interface that they are comfortable with and forget that it needs to be designed solely with the user in mind. Children are tested on a topic that pertains to the content of a game before their use and then after to determine if the game had any affect on their learning ability (Druin, 2002). In addition, the usability testing determines the effectiveness of particular interfaces and how well children relate to or are affected by the interfaces. For information on guidelines for usability testing with children see the research of Allison Druin (2002) as well as Amy Bruckman and Alisa Bandlow (2002).

In the role of tester, children test prototypes of the newest technologies (Druin, 2002). These are the latest breakthrough ideas that may be included in future serious games. A child can also play the role of informant. In this role children give input on anything from new technologies to simple idea sketches. Once a prototype is developed they can be asked for their input and feedback again allowing adjustments to be made before getting to far into the development stages. In this role children can be used at any stage of the design process (Druin, 2002). The final role a child can play in the design of serious games is that of design partner. This role is similar to that of informant but as design partner children can be involved in research and design throughout the entire process of development (Druin, 2002). Only in recent years have these qualitative studies of usability testing with children become an important and accepted process of the design of serious games. There is still a lot of research that needs to be done in the study of interface design in order to ensure a future for serious games.

Activity Theory Prior to looking into the different types of interfaces that a serious game consists of and the theories involved in their effectiveness we want to briefly touch on one theory that encompasses video games as a whole. Activity Theory (AT) has evolved from the work of Russian psychologist Lev Vygotsky. His research focused on development and how a person shapes and is shaped by their experiences. His colleague Alexei Leont’ev used these ideas to develop a description of acitivity (Barr, 2007). Leont’ev defines activity as a process by which people obtain their goals and achieve their expectations by taking actions to transform the cultural and social world in which they exist. One of the key components to Leont’ev’s approach was the theory of mediated action. This is a model developed by Vygotsky to explain the motives of an individual or social community to facilitate change with the creation, use, and modification of tools that mediate this process. This is why Activity Theory has become so popular in this age of interactivity and technology. It has become especially important theory in HCI research and development. In respect to video game design, this theory works on a number of levels because it functions on both an individual and social level as well a fitting in with other concepts of HCI like cognitive modeling. On the social level, Activity Theory uncovers how actions and processes are shaped and shared by communities when involved in accomplishing a goal. It describes how

knowledge and symbols evolve as a result of feedback through interaction. This explains how online games could help students learn by interacting with other players to accomplish goals.

Activity Theory Communications Model (Kuutti, 2005)

Activity Theory Model (Education)

Pippin Barr et al. (2007) have added to the mediated action model by looking at the individual parts in which a subject has a motive to affect an object with the use of tools in order to reach an outcome. On an individual level, Activity Theory can explain how one can learn through playing a serious game. This too can be looked a on a couple of different levels. First, on the level of game play itself, the subject (game’s main character) has a motive (a desire based on the game objective) to have an effect on an object (i.e. villain) with the use of tools (i.e. weapons) in order to reach an outcome (beat the level/game). The second level focuses on the design of games and how they assist in learning. In this case, in order for a subject (student) to effectively change an object (education) through a game, they must have a strong motive or need (playing a video game) to accomplish this. The tools that help accomplish this are the interfaces. They are what make the outcome (learning/well being) possible.

Concepts of Interface Design In this section we will bring together the ideas of interface design, usability, UCD, and theories to explain how interfaces can be engaging and educational for children. A userinterface is built of an interface hierarchy between the computer and player (Bergeron, 2006). Each level is one of six types of interfaces that work in conjunction with one another to make up the user-interface: physical interface, graphical interface, logical interface, emotional interface, intelligent interface, and emotionally intelligent interface. Each interface has a different function and role as to how it affects a child and their perceptions (2006).

Physical interface. The first interface that most are familiar with is the physical interface. This is the actual hardware communication link between the computer and player that transmits the user’s commands and game’s feedback between one another. In the past some physical interfaces have consisted of a mouse, joystick, knob, and stylus (Bergeron, 2006). In the case of most serious games today, the physical interface would be the controller. The controller is used by the player to give action commands to the computer with the result of getting feedback of some sort. This is the essence of interactivity and the reason it is an important rule in interface design. A current example of feedback is haptic feedback in which game controller vibrates in response to an action. An example of an application of this would be in a game where a player is piloting a starfighter and is hit by a photon torpedo. Not only does the player see the explosion on the screen but they also feel the impact physically in their bodies through the vibrations of the controller. The haptic feedback makes the game more life-like and exciting. It immerses the player into the reality of the game. The feedback lets a player know immediately whether they’ve done something that has positively or negatively affected them (Prensky, 2001). It’s a means of teaching a player how to distinguish right form wrong in order to accomplish a goal. Haptics is already being used in medical training games where students can feel objects, such as organs or blood vessels in a virtual environment. In the future as the prices of haptic technologies decrease it will enable designers to use this technology in serious game applications (Derryberry, 2007). There are a couple of things to consider when designing controllers for use with serious games. One is that children are inherently different than other players in that they are smaller and can find it difficult to operate a controller. They don’t possess the necessary dexterity or motor skills to hold and manipulate it. In addition, overly complicated controllers with a multitude of buttons can be confusing and cumbersome to younger children as they have yet to develop the mental abilities to recall all the functions of the buttons. UCD and usability testing play an especially important role in developing physical interfaces. By working with and observing children, any shortcoming a controller may have can be immediately recognized and fixed making it more intuitive for the player to use. The latest way video game designers have made controllers more intuitive is with the use of infrared (IR) sensors and haptics. Infrared allows remotes to be wireless. Players are no longer physically bound to the computer by a cord. There is no longer a physical association with the machine. Another way physical interface design has made IR an effective tool is with motion sensors. Controllers like the Nintendo Wiimote, use triangulation via the sensors to sense

a player’s body movements. Instead of having to manipulate buttons on a pad, the player needs only to move the controller to command actions in a game. For example, when playing a baseball game on a traditional controller one has to manipulate one or more torque sensitive buttons simultaneously in order to make a game’s character swing a bat. With controllers like the Wiimote, a player need only hold the controller and make a swinging motion with their arm. This is a much more natural and understood way of accomplishing the same task. Seymour Papert finds it unfortunate that in most computer-aided instruction games the computer is it determining what a student learns. Instead, a child should be given control so they can make the computer do what they want in order to obtain a goal (Bruckman and Bandlow 2002; Druin, 2002). A child can learn in ways that are most efficient for that particular individual, following the constructivist idea of learning. In the very near future the term physical interface will no longer apply. There are developments in technology that take controller completely out of the player’s hand. Microsoft is developing a new video game system called Project Natal for their Xbox system, which senses players’ movements with the use of a sophisticated motion-sensing camera. A player can simply just move their hand to create an action. As explained by Shneiderman (1998), with his rule for supporting internal locus of control, when a player is given control and ease of use, they can concentrate more of their attention on the content within a game. In addition to Natal technologies, there is research going into the use of haptic holography. Researchers from the University of Tokyo and Provision Interactive Technologies, Inc. are developing a tactile hologram in which a user can physically feel digital images such as a ball or even raindrops (Takayuki, 2008). As a result of the 3D technology in holograms, players could engross themselves into serious game worlds like never before.

Graphical Interface. This is interface in which visual information is presented to the user by the computer. It consists of the menus, icons, and controls that connect what the player is seeing and doing on the screen to what he/she is inputting into the controller. A typical example of this type of interface would be a Heads Up Display or HUD. HUDs were developed by the military as way to display important information to a pilot. The information is displayed directly in front of the pilot on the canopy, removing the need for the pilot to look down to see the instrument panel. An example of the use of a HUD in a serious game is in Ben’s Game, made for the MakeA-Wish Foundation ( It teaches children about particular illnesses and the importance medication play (Bergeron, 2006). In the game players combat illnesses by firing medications at them. The player views the action through a HUD, which has a crosshair and icons indicating ammunition levels right on the screen in easy view.

Like the physical interface, the graphical interface provides the player with feedback, teaching them, through trial and error, how to succeed in the game and in life. However, the graphical interface has the distinct advantage of being aesthetically pleasing to a player. The visual aspects of a graphic interface, the color, layout, texture, and overall design have an incredible way of captivating a player. Graphical interfaces are art, and by definition they are a non-rigid, scientific way of expressing and imparting emotions and knowledge. The ability of this interface to have such a strong emotional effect on players is what arguably, makes it the most engaging aspect of a video game. A theory that helps explain how this interface induces such strong emotions is the Imageperception Theory. It plays a role in graphical interface design in that they are a way of explaining how people perceive and interpret images, symbols, and messages to give meaning to their world. If a graphic interface can be designed in a way that a child could easily perceive as real, it would motivate a player to want to learn because they feel an emotional connection to the content of the game. By improving the tools or interfaces within a game, it can enhance a child’s motive to want to learn. When symbols and images from an interface are arranged in a certain way, the educational content becomes a “trope” in which the content is presented in a creative way that engages a player. Designers still have to keep in mind however, is that children’s perceptions develop over time. Symbols or icons put into a graphical interface that make sense to a nine year old, may not be understood by a five year old (Bruckman and Bandlow, 2002). For example, a five year old most likely would not recognize the folder/file metaphor of a desktop system. However a child having to control an illness can easily relate to Make-A-Wish foundation’s Ben’s Game and its age and context appropriate metaphors, pills (Bergeron 2006). The use of specific and appropriate metaphors and symbols to communicate with users and how to determine which are the best and most effective ones to use based on user personas is the main question that Dr. Underberg (personal communication, 2009) and her colleagues are trying to answer with their PeruVine ( research project. In addition to designing metaphors that different ages can interpret, it’s important to remember to reduce a player’s memory load, as stated in Shneiderman’s rule. Even if the child can interpret a metaphor or symbol, they still cannot process an endless number of them. Children can only process a certain amount of information by means of schemas. A schema is a cognitive structure of organized information about a person’s world, which is based on a their experiences. If too much information is presented to a player in a process called information overload, they will most likely get confused and frustrated resulting in a disconnect. As long as a game provides only the most vital information then the child will be able process and retain the knowledge and use it to interpret new images. This is why it is so challenging to develop interfaces that effectively convert imagery and symbols into concrete special relationships or numerical qualities (Bergeron, 2006).

Possibly one of the most important developments in video games in the past decade is the television. HDTV has allowed games to show off their graphical interface like never before and HDTV is still evolving and improving. Just recently work has gone into developing 3D games that attempt to bring the game out of the 2D television screen. Taking this concept one step further, it is likely that future games will take place within augmented realities. A player’s actual reality will be seamlessly blended with the realities of a game through the use of projections through an optical system or a HUD as mentioned above. Because the graphical interface can do so many things to influence a player and has so many different design options, its effectiveness will benefit greatly from more user-centered design and usability testing.

Logical Interface. The logical interface involves the rules, guidelines, and restrictions within a game. For example, it determines how a game reacts to the pressing of a controller button in different situations (Bergeron, 2006). It communicates primarily with the physical interface telling it how to operate. The logical interface doesn’t offer much in the way of interaction with users without the use of high-level interfaces such as the emotional interface, so we will move on.

Emotional Interface. This is the interface that is intended to draw emotions from its user. This emotion is what separates serious games from the drill and quiz-based educational games of the past. Inducing emotional responses from players is accomplished by including a risk/reward system (Bergeron, 2006) put in place with the use of narrative, which gives the user a vested interest and reason to care about the game. The emotional interface is usually tightly associated with the graphic interface. The two interfaces work in conjunction to provide narrative or a story to a game. These interfaces can persuade a user into perceiving things a certain way. Persuasion Theory, and the approach to attitude change that falls under it, are ways to describe how an emotional interface can encourage a student to want to learn. It suggests that humans are intelligent beings, who make wise decisions but are also influenced by others. Because humans are both rational and irrational it makes it hard to interpret one’s given attitude about a particular topic or thing. One of the functions that attitudes serve for a personality is the knowledge function. People, or in this case, children hold certain attitudes because they satisfy a need for knowledge in addition to providing structure and meaning to their world. Video games in general are very persuasive and have the ability to change children’s attitudes. This of course has been the source of a lot of controversy in the past when dealing with the past studies that focused on the affect of games on children’s violent tendencies. In the case of serious games it would probably be unlikely to find much

violence or aggression in the narrative. However, there was the Brothers in Arms series of commercial games. Brothers in Arms was a World War II single-shooter video game series developed by Gearbox based on actual events that occurred during the war. This series is a rare example of a commercial game that can effectively include historical information in a way that unexpectedly teaches a player (Brown, 2008). This is because of its detailed narrative developed from the actual “after-action-reports” of battles, compiled by battlefield historians who where embedded with the troops (2008). Games such as the Brothers in Arms series, have designed emotional interfaces that make a user feel as if they exist in the video game’s world. Because of the danger involved in the story it bonds the user with the characters and gives them a reason to care and be interested in the historical content. These games along with other genres teach players about conflict and competition through the story (Prensky, 2001). The problems designed into a game teach a player how to overcome challenges and force players to solve problems. This conflict and opposition is what makes a player feel a rush of adrenaline and enters into a flow state. This is the state in which a player loses their sense of self-consciousness and become engaged in a goal driven activity for no reason other that that joy of doing it (Squire, 2003). In the sports industry this is know as being “in the zone”. Current research at Kansas State University is studying flow by having students play the popular commercial video game, Rock Band. To date their finding indicate that the types of work that lead people to achieve flow have some common traits, including being goal directed, providing feedback, and giving a sense of meaning to the worker or student. In addition, flow occurs only when the person feels in control of the process (BarcombPeterson, 2009). These are all important traits of serious games. As their research progresses, KSU psychologists hope to determine whether there is a group effect to flow and the mental processes that occur when a player is in a flow state (2009). From a emotional interface perspective, in modern games players can from bonds and understanding with the characters they control and the characters of other players, that would have been unimaginable a decade ago. This bonding is enhanced as result of designing interfaces that give players full control to create game characters, or avatars as they are known, that represent the players in the most convincing and life-like ways possible. By making avatars realistic increases a players ability to form a bond and liking of the character that helps to engage a student but only to a certain extent. Elon University Associate Professor of Physics, Anthony Crider (personal communication, November 30, 2009) says that when designing virtual characters there is a limit to how life-like a character can be. In computer generated design there is a theory called the “uncanny valley”. The hypothesis states that when computer generated human characters or robots look too human, it causes a response of revulsion among human players or viewers. At a point between a character being cartoonish and being

completely human, players no longer want to interact or bond with the character. This phenomenon is described in the diagram below.

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An example of this character generation is in virtual worlds such as Second Life, users build representations of themselves, homes, office spaces, or other entities within an Internet based world. Second Life is an online community that consists of millions of users called “residents” who interact with each other to complete tasks such as selling wares or offering services, just as in the real world. Through these interaction users gain a better understanding of materials or situations that exist in Second Life, or life in general. The idea that users are motivated to contribute information in exchange for information and assistance, in return, is a main idea within the online communities theory. Although Second Life is not a video game, it does have “game-like” qualities in that it includes virtual avatars, interactive characters, and immersive environments. Many have tried to use Second Life as a tool for educating with limited success. Many schools, colleges, and universities around the world have attempted to use Second Life to establish virtual classrooms but most were ineffective. One of the few successful examples of using Second Life at a learning tool is in the field of architecture. Second Life users design and construct homes and office spaces in which they dwell or work. As a result, architecture students can build and observe structures of their design and examine the engineering and aesthetic qualities of it in a virtual world before actually creating it in reality (Brown 2008). One of the primary limitations to Second Life being a useful learning tool according to Associate Professor at Elon University, Michelle Ferrier (personal communication,

October 7, 2009) is that “it does not allow for controlled events” which would permit learning activities such as research and data collection. Despite this, Crider (personal communication, Novermber 30, 2009) says that “Second Life is effective in that it provides students with a ‘learning experience’, something that people within the world want. They a want to wonder through the virtual to discover and experience things through their avatar, that they are unable to experience in the real world.” Games or virtual worlds allow procedural rhetoric as purposed by Ian Bogust (2007), in which human processes are represented by computer processes. Being able to move one’s avatar around a virtual world and experience it is an continuous interactive process, whereas reading about a character walking around is mediated by language, not process (McDaniel, 2009). This is a “much more effective teaching method than going to your local library and reading about experiences in a book” (Crider, personal communication, November 30, 2009).

Intelligent Interface. This interface level is the artificial intelligence of a game giving it the ability to adapt (Bergeron, 2006). As players become more experienced with a game, tasks become easier to accomplish thus making the gameplay boring. It is necessary for a game to be able to react to the player’s skill level and give them either shortcuts, as suggested by Shneiderman, or alter the game’s difficulty and increase the challenge. Adaptability and other forms of artificial intelligence (AI) are going to play a large role in the future developments in serious interface and game design. Artificial intelligence will allow developers to design interfaces that result in life-like and understandable characters, scenes, and experiences that a player can connect with. When a character reacts more appropriately to a given situation it gives the player a feeling of trust. When characters act just like us, we assume they are us, therefore we relate to them and confide in them. Contrary to being able to create life-like worlds and characters, intelligent interfaces can also be designed so they alter the reality of worlds. The physics that control how things behave in a video game’s world are designed into the intelligent interface. By altering the designs and physics, these interfaces can speed up time, make a ball float in midair, travel through space, and do many other things. A benefit of this intelligence lies within the fields of science. When studying topics such as evolution, cell replication, or botany, an intelligent interface can enhance learning unlike any teaching technique of the past. For example, a student studying botany can observe how a plant develops and control the rate of plant growth within a serious game world. This is something that cannot be done in the real world, at least for now. On a social level, the intelligent interface aids in bringing people together. With an online serious game students can interact and play the same game from different parts of

the country. One classroom could collaborate with another halfway around the world to accomplish tasks of a particular game. The future success of serious games will rely heavily on in-game communications to promote team learning. Not only will chatting via microphone or text during gameplay be the norm, but game blogs, team wikis, and other Web 2.0+ communications technologies will quickly find their place in serious games (Derryberry, 2007), allowing students to share and gather knowledge with each other. Moreover, with enhanced communications within serious games, these capabilities can promote mentorship opportunities and facilitate access to subject matter experts (2007). Emotionally Intelligent Interface. According to Bergeron (2006), the emotionally intelligent interface is designed to modify a player’s behavior by forming a union between the game and the player. As mentioned above, non-player characters can have a significant influence on a player and the choices they make. They not only express emotions but they do so in a way that is appropriate and relatable to a particular situation. This realistic action results in a modification of the player’s behavior. The characters, either artificially generated or other online users, can provide information and advice to a player, assisting them in accomplishing goals. As the name suggests this is the most complex of the interfaces because it combines both logical and emotional factors that don’t necessarily coincide with each other. Future developments in emotionally intelligent interface design will have the greatest impact on the success of serious games. Obviously, user-centered design and usability testing will be a key factor in directing the design of interfaces that support education and entertainment. A game yet to be released that may be the most advanced in emotionally intelligent interface design is Lionhead’s, Milo ( It was introduced at the 2009 Electronics Entertainment Expo along with Microsoft’s Project Natal and represents the first time game characters truly express emotions. Mylo is a boy who lives in a virtual yet life-like world within the game who interacts with a user in our world. The fascinating aspect of the game is that Mylo interacts with a player in a way that seems unprovoked. It can even recognize individuals and their expressions. Likewise, Mylo has the ability to express his emotions in ways that are easily recognizable, making the interaction incredibly lifelike. Technologies like this will immerse players into serious games like never before. Perhaps in future serious games a player will literally walk the Oregon Trail or travel the world virtually, experiencing and learning new things.


It’s apparent that video games thrive on their interactivity. Players interact with the console, the game’s reality and characters, as well as other players. This interactivity is what makes all games, electronic or not, attract users. Social games are naturally more fun and inviting. This interactivity will allow students to connect and learn from others not only in the classroom, but from anywhere in the world. Serious games can educate students about a particular subject and at the same time expose them to different cultures and ways of looking at things. All video games revolve around the theory of Uses and Gratifications (U&G). U&G explores how people use media (serious games) to achieve certain needs, even achieving self-actualization, resulting in confidence and a sense of worth. Worth is a quality that drives social interaction in that it is something we share and receive from others. When we give to a community we hope to receive reciprocity, acknowledgement, and praise. These all give us a sense of worth. By interacting through serious games and sharing with others, students can fulfill their cognitive needs by increasing their knowledge and understanding of their world. Knowledge of such theories in communication and education will aid designers in understanding the complex relationships that young students have with interactive media and how it can enhance their view of the world. As this paper has mentioned throughout, serious games could benefit greatly from future user-interface design. Future advances in creating graphics that are visually and emotionally pleasing and making serious games as realistic as possible will enhance their ability to engage students and make them want to care about the game and the educational content within it. Improving serious games’ communication capabilities will enhance their effectiveness as they bring students closer to other players and subject experts to share and gain more knowledge. Designing improved intelligence and proper emotional character responses within a game will lead to games that mimic reality and entertain and enlighten students in ways they would never be in a normal classroom setting. It will be important that designers continue to work collaboratively with children, teachers, and experts to design games that work well for both the student and the classroom. The practice of usability testing will have to be made a priority in interface design in the future. Although time consuming, it is worth the time to develop a game that will be effective in the classroom and homes for years to come. By following design best practices, employing UCD, and utilizing future advancements in technology, serious games have the potential to change the education process for the benefit of children, schools, and communities.

Annotated Bibliography Barcomb‐Peterson, E.  (2009, November 24).  K­State Organizational Psychologists  Use the Video Game Rock Band to Study How People Achieve Flow While at Work,  Performing Skilled Tasks [Press Release].  Retrieved from     http://www.k‐      Bergeron, B.P.  (2006).  Developing serious games. Hingham, Mass.: Charles River   Media.      Abstract:    Book covers the topic of serious game design for both education and business  purposes.   It discusses the history and current state of serious games.  A focus is  on the design of the different levels of interfaces.  It covers social, personal, and  augmented reality games.  All this accumulating in designing a game that is both  entertaining and educational.      Bogost, I.  (2007).  Persuasive Games:  The expressive power of videogames.   Cambridge:  The MIT Press.      Abstract:    This book discusses how video games make arguments and influence players.  It  focuses on rhetoric and it’s function in video game software.  Video games offer a  new form of rhetoric the offer refers to as “procedural rhetoric” in that video  games represent rules and interactions.           Brown, H.J.  (2008). Video Games and Education.  Armonk, New York:  M.E. Sharpe      Abrstract:    The chapters of this book discuss edutainment of the past and serious games of  today.   It focuses on the past a current types of serious games and how each one  is effective at educating students.       Bruckman, A., Bandlow, A. (2002).  Human‐computer interaction for kids.  The  human­computer interaction handbook:  fundamentals, evolving technologies and  emerging applications.  Mahwah, N.J: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates    Abstract: 

Covers the topic of User‐centered Design with the use of children.  Children a  different from adults physically and mental which requires design to occur with  children’s input to accommodate for these differences.  Usability testing is an  essential part in this process.  Computers are used to entertain and educate  children as a tutor, tool, or tutee.        Ceangal, J.K.  (2002).  Video Gaming, Education and Digital Learning Technologies.   D­Lib Magazine,  8(2).        Abstract:    Reports on video games and their use in the United Kingdom.  It covers the major  game consoles available at the time of its publication; PC use, online gaming, and  networking.  Covers the educational applications that video games have in  current and future classrooms in the U.K.      Ceangal, J.K.  (2003).  The relevance of video games and gaming consoles to the  Higher and Further Education learning experience.  JISC,  3(1).        Abstract:    Reports on video games and their use in the United Kingdom.  It covers the major  game consoles available at the time of its publication; PC use, online gaming, and  networking.  Covers the educational applications that video games have in  current and future classrooms in the U.K.      De Aguilera, M., Méndiz, A.  (2003).  Video Games and Education (Education in the  Face of a “Parallel School”).  ACM Computers and Entertainment,  1(1),  1‐14.      Abstract:    This paper is a look into the use of video games to educate children.  It covers  past studies in this field and the also the changes that need to take place within  education systems reversing the negative stereotypes of video games.       Derryberry, A.  (2007).  Serious Games:  Online Games for Learning.  Adobe Systems.   Retreived October 3, 2009, from      Abstract:    Paper discusses the use and future of serious online games in education of  students and employees.  The author is an advisor and consultant to  organizations about serious games and virtual worlds.  She was commissioned by  Adobe Systems to write this article.    

Druin, A., (2002).  The role of children in the design of new technology.  Behaviour  and Information Technology,  21(1),  1‐25.      Abstract:    Paper discusses the concept of User‐centered Design (UCD) and usability‐testing  with children.  It describes the roles children can play during the design of  technologies that facilitate learning.  With this process designers can gain insight  into children’s physical and mental abilities.  They can design games that and  more intuitive and accommodating to young students.      Druin, A., Hourcade, J.P.  (2005).  Interaction design and children.  Communitcations  of the ACM,  48(1),  33‐34.      Abstract:    The article discuss the topic of User‐center Design when including young  children.  These approaches will help game makers design games that are easy to  use and age‐appropriate  to children.        Entertainment Software Association (ESA).  (2008).  Industry facts.  Retreived  December 1, 2009 from      Abstract:    Online list of video game industry facts including sales, household usage and age  of users.      Gee, J.P. (2003). What Video Games Have to Teach Us About Learning and Literacy.  New York: Palgrave/Macmillan.        Abstract:    This book explains the human values that video games help to develop in  humans.  It primarily focuses on games being semiotic domain made up of  symbols that players interpret and learn from.        Graham, J., Zheng, L., Gonzalez, C.  (2006).  A Cognitive Approad to Game Usability  and Design:  Mental Model Development in Novice Real‐Time Strategy Gamers.   CyberPsychology and Behavior,  9(3),  361‐366.      Abstract:    Reports on a study of a video game player’s mental model and how they shift  throughout gameplay.  This research will help video game designers engage and  hold a player’s interest.   

Guha, M.L., Druin, A., Chipman, G., Fails, J.A., Simms, S., Farber, A.  (2005).  Working  with Young Children  as Technology Design Partners.  Communications of the  ACM,  48(1),  39‐42.      Abstract:    Article discusses the idea of Cooperative Inquiry.  These are the design methods  for working with children in the development of serious games.  It studies how    designers and children work together and techniques that can be used to help  with the communication of ideas between the two.         Harteveld, C., Lukosch, S., Kortmann, R.  (2009).  Improving Serious Game Design  with Collaborative Storytelling.   8th International Conference on Web­based  Learning (ICWL ).      Abstract:    The challenge to designing a serious game is that in addition to being fun the also  have to be valid and meaningful.  A successful serious game can be developed by  using collaborative storytelling in the design process.  This suggest designers  should collaborate with experts in the subject that a game is designed around in  order to make them as realistic as possible.         Johnson, S. (1997). Interface Culture: How New Technology Transforms the Way We  Create and Communicate. . New York: Basic Books.    Abstract:  This book is a historical look at user‐interfaces.  Chapters covered for this paper  discuss Doug Engelhart’s “Mother of all demos” intruding the first computer  graphical interface and mouse.        Kloonigames.  (2008).  Crayon Physics Deluxe.  Retrieved December 1, 2009, from      Kurland, D.M., Kurland, L.C.  (1987).  Computer Applications in Education:  A  Historical Overview.  Annual Review of Computer Science,  2,  317‐358.      Abstract:    This journal article gives a historical overview of the use of computers in a school  setting.  It discusses some of the development psychologies used in education and  how the evolution of use and design of educational video games evolved along  with these psychologies.  The paper also discusses the role of teachers in the 

design of games as well as curriculum to use with these educational games.       Laurel, B.  (1993).  Computers as Theatre.  Reading, Mass.:  Addison‐Wesley.      Abstract:    This book uses theatre to explain interface design.  Discuss the importance of  psychology in interface design.       Microsoft Xbox.  (2009).  Lionhead Studio’s Milo.  Retrieved October 30, 2009, from      McDaniel, R.  (2009).  Best Practices for Integrating Game‐Based Learning into  Online Teaching.  MERLOT Journal of Online Learning and Teaching,  5(2),  1‐14.        Abstract:    The article describes the history of the use of video games in education and also  provides 10 guidelines fro the effective use of video games in online teaching  environments for post‐secondary instructors.      National Center for Education Statistics.  (1998).  The Release of U.S. Report on Grade  12 Results From the Third International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS)    February 24, 1998.  Washington, DC.  Retrieved from      Abstract:    Preliminary statement of the findings from the U.S. Dept. of Education’s National  Center for Education Statistics 1998 TIMSS report written by Pascal D. Forglone,  Jr., Ph.D., U.S. Commissioner of Education Statistics.      National Center for Educational Statistics, (2009). Digest of Education Statistics  (NCES 2009‐020).  Washington, DC.  Retrieved from      Abstract:    Report drawn from the National Assessment of Educatoinal Progress (NAEP)  educational assessment of 25 participating countries.  Statistics include  enrollment, teacher employment numbers, student performance, international  comparisons, drop‐out rates, educational technology, and educational  expenditures.      

Norman, D.A. (2002).  Psychology of everyday things. New York : Basic Books.        Abstract:    Book covers the different ideas of psychology that are applied to interface design.   Explains the importance of designers to understand how children develop  mentally so they can design age‐appropriate games.        Olsen, D.R., Klemmer, S.R.  (2005).  The Future of User Interface Design Tools.   Proceedings of the ACM CHI 2005 Conference on Human Factors in Computing  Systems,  2134‐2135.      Abstract:    Writing on a workshop created to share ideas on interface design tools and the  future of interfaces.  Some of these tools include interface builders, development  environments for writing code, and toolkits providing architecture.        Ortutay, B.  (2009)  Video game sales top $21 billion in 2008.  Retrieved October 3,  2009 from      Prensky, M.  (2001).  Fun, Play, and Games:  What Makes Games Engaging.  Digital  Game­Based Learning.  McGraw‐Hill.      Abstract:      Reports how games and play affects children’s cognitive abilities.  Defines what  constitutes fun, games, and play and these explain why video games are so  engaging.  The author reports on what values videos games as well as non‐digital  games instill in children as well as covering different types of video games  available to children.          Raffle, H.  The future of interface design, through a child’s eyes.      Abstract:    Paper focuses on designing interfaces for children’s toys and games by including  children in the design process.  Explains how this collaboration encourages  children to become designers themselves.  It also cover interactivity and  interactive toys.        Shneiderman, B. (1998).  Designing the User Interface:  Strategies For Effective  Human­computer­Interaction.  Reading, Mass : Addison Wesley Longman.   

Abstract:   This book covers the topic of user‐interface design.  It describes the eight primary  rules to design good interfaces.  Also discusses the importance of accommodating  different types of users.       Sorensen, B.H.  (2009).  Concept of Educational Design for Serious Games.  Research,  Reflections and Innovations in Integrating ICT in Education,  1,  278‐282.          Abstract:     Reports on the challenges of incorporate an educational design into a serious  game.  Educational design is a concept that combines theories from education,  ludology, , communications, and pedagogy.  The idea also focuses on involving  teachers during the design process as they provide in important function in a  serious games effectiveness.         Squire, K. (2003). Video games in education. International Journal of Intelligent  Simulations and Gaming,  2(1).       Abstract:    The author examines the history of games in education and explains the cognitive  potential they have for young learners.  The paper discusses why games are so  engaging for children as well as providing examples of strategy and drill games of  the past.  Finally, it discusses the future of video games in the future.       Strommen, E., Alexander, K.  (1999).  Emotional Interfaces for Interactive Aardvarks:   Designing Affect into Social Interfaces for Children.  Proceedings of the ACM CHI  ’99 Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems.  528‐535.      Abstract:    Authors discuss the design and development of interactive dolls.  They focus on  the emotional interface and report on the use of three emotional interactions  humor, praise, and affection and how children respond to each.       Takayuki Iwamoto, Mari Tatezono, and Hiroyuki Shinoda, Non‐Contact Method for  Producing Tactile Sensation Using Airborne Ultrasound.  Proc. EuroHaptics 2008,  504‐513.      Abstract:    Paper reports on studies involving touchable holography.  With the use of  ultrasound waves scientists have devised a way to apply pressure on an object  that is interacting with a 3D hologram.     

Wallace, Richard (2004).  Game design gets serious for real‐world apps.  Electronic  Engineering Times, 1(2).    Abstract:  Reports on the development of realistic game‐based simulation to deliver  educational programs, military training and tools for health maintenance and  therapy. Advances in computer graphics and communications; Emergence of non‐ entertainment applications developed by public‐policy advocates, educators,  corporate management, the health care industry and nonprofit foundations.           

The Future Outlook of Serious Games  

A look into the future of serious games and the role interface design plays in engaging and effectively educating students.

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