Collect that Coin: Efficacy Testing of Platformer Game Mechanics with Adult Learners
Keywords:Game-based learning, Andragogy, Platformer games
Digital serious games for adult learning have become a more prominent topic for research in recent years, yet platformer genre games for learning remain underexplored. Despite this, many adults enjoy platformer games for entertainment which presents the question of what about platformer games makes them less prominent in adult education learning games. Platformer games often focus on simple mechanics such as collecting and race to the finish which map well to lower-order learning but require more effort to map to higher-order learning. To address this case, we rapidly designed and developed a 2D platforming game prototype called Biomes Rescue for use in a large general-education undergraduate Geography course. The game follows an Indiana Jones-style character who collects and aligns items to different biomes by evaluating items collected. The problem follows the slime-like creatures: the enemy representing pollution that has impacted Earth’s biomes. Three biomes have been disassembled by the enemies and the player must rescue all four biomes by critically thinking about the characteristics of each. We actively tested and adjusted Biomes Rescue over the last three years and focus this case on the latest implementation, which addresses the alignment of game mechanics to higher-order learning and Knowles principles of Andragogy combined with games-based learning. We hypothesized participants would have an unbalanced view of the dexterity-centered mechanics tied to fun more so than learning. Our mixed-methods exploratory study aims to understand what mechanics connect to fun and to learning from the learner’s perspective using a quiz score - a newly added measure, and Likert scale ratings on Enjoyment with open-ended feedback. Data analysis consisted of thematic analysis and group differences on the quiz scores. This study holds implications for designing platformers for adult learners with an understanding of the differences in game mechanics application for engaging critical thinking.