Multiplayer Serious Games Supporting Programming Learning
Keywords:Collaborative Learning, Multiplayer Serious Games, Game Design, Computational Thinking, Introductory Programming
Computational thinking (CT) is crucial in education for providing a multifaceted approach to problem-solving. However, challenges exist such as supporting teachers' knowledge of CT and students' desire to learn it, particularly for non-technical students. To combat these challenges, Computer Supported Collaborative Learning (CSCL) has been introduced in classrooms and implemented using a variety of technologies, including serious games, which have been adopted across several domains aiming to appeal to various demographics and skill levels. This research focuses on a Collaborative Multiplayer Serious Game (MSG) for CT skill training. The architecture is aimed at young students and is designed to aid in the learning of programming and the development of CT skills. The purpose of this research is to conduct an empirical study to assess the multiplayer game gameplay mechanics for collaborative CT learning. The proposed game leverages a card game structure and contains complex multi-team multi-player processes, allowing students to communicate and absorb sequential and conditional logics as well as graph routing in a 2D environment. A preliminary experiment was conducted with four fourth-graders and eight sixth-graders from a French school in Morocco who have varying levels of understanding of CT. Participants were split into three groups each with two teams and were required to complete a 16-question multiple-choice quiz before and after playing the same game to assess their initial structural programming logics and the effectiveness of the MSG. Questionnaires were collected along with an interview to gather feedback on their gaming experiences and the game’s role in teaching and learning. The results demonstrate that the proposed MSG had a favourable effect on the participants’ test scores as the scores of 4 of the teams increased and 1 remained the same. All students performed well on the sequential and conditional logics, which was significantly better than the achievement of the Bebras test of the graph routing. Furthermore, according to the participants, the game provides an appealing environment that allows players to immerse themselves in the game and the competitive aspect of the game adds to its appeal and helps develop teamwork, coordination, and communication skills.