The Design, Implementation and Evaluation of Gamified Immersive Virtual Reality (IVR) for Learning: A Review of Empirical Studies




gamification, game factors, learning outcomes, the interaction mechanism, empirical studies


The reduced cost of Virtual Reality (VR) technology makes it possible to be used in education. And the virtual learning scenarios in immersive virtual reality (IVR) contain some kind of gamification in the design aspects. Though some published reviews mapped the application of IVR in education, reviews about the use of gamification in IVR in education are still under research. In this review, game elements, game mechanisms, learning performance evaluation, research design, and methods were extracted from the selected empirical articles from Web of Science, Scopus, and Google Scholar after rigorous inclusion and exclusion. It found that learning interactions inside the IVR learning scenarios frequently consisted of interaction with virtual objects or equipment, interaction with avatars (non-Player Characters (NPC)), interaction with avatars (participant displayed as an avatar), and watching the video in a follow-the-machine view. The most popular three gamification mechanisms were rewards, challenges, and avatars, while the most common gamification elements utilized were content unlocking, a point system, task difficulty levels, NPC, an achievement system, role-playing, and a progress bar. Action error rates and test scores were the popular learning performance measurement metrics. In general, positive learning performance was more related to the number of game mechanisms rather than the number of game elements. Gamified IVR programs facilitated learning engagement, learning motivation, collaborative ability, declarative knowledge learning, and procedural knowledge and skills learning especially for novice trainees. Some high abstract focus areas like algebra in mathematics might not be suitable for IVR-based instruction even combined with the use of gamification. Some recommendations and future research directions were given such as how to help integrate gamified IVR learning materials with normal education or training and how to improve simulator sickness, more attention to diverse learning performance measurement, collaborative learning in IVR, learning theories or pedagogical strategies adopted in gamified IVR-based instruction.