Mapping learning and game mechanics for serious games analysis

Sylvester Arnab, T. Lim, M.B. Carvalho, F. Bellotti, Sara de Freitas, S. Louchart, N. Suttie, R. Berta, A. De Gloria

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    536 Citations (Scopus)


    Although there is a consensus on the instructional potential of Serious Games (SGs), there is still a lack of methodologies and tools not only for design but also to support analysis and assessment. Filling this gap is one of the main aims of the Games and Learning Alliance ( European Network of Excellence on Serious Games, which has a focus upon pedagogy-driven SGs. This paper relies on the assumption that the fundamental aspect of SG design consists in the translation of learning goals/practices into mechanical element of gameplay, serving to an instructional purpose beside that of play and fun. This paper proposes the Learning Mechanics-Game Mechanics (LM-GM) model, which supports SG analysis and design by allowing reflection on the various pedagogical and game elements in an SG. The LM-GM model includes a set of pre-defined game mechanics and pedagogical elements that we have abstracted from literature on game studies and learning theories. Designers and analysts can exploit these mechanics to draw the LM-GM map for a game, so as to identify and highlight its main pedagogical and entertainment features, and their interrelations. The tool may also be useful for teachers to evaluate the effectiveness of a given game and better understand how to implement it in educational settings. A case study is reported to illustrate the framework's support in determining how gameplay and pedagogy intertwine in an SG. Finally, the paper presents the results of two comparative user tests demonstrating the advantages of the proposed model with respect to a similar state-of-the-art framework. ¸ 2014 British Educational Research Association.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)391–411
    JournalBritish Journal of Educational Technology
    Issue number2
    Early online date5 Jan 2014
    Publication statusPublished - Mar 2015

    Bibliographical note

    The full text of this item is not currently available from the repository.
    This is the pre-peer-reviewed version of the following article:
    Arnab, S. , Lim, T. , Carvalho, M.B. , Bellotti, F. , de Freitas, S. , Louchart, S. , Suttie, N. , Berta, R. and De Gloria, A. (2014) Mapping learning and game mechanics for serious games analysis. British Journal of Educational Technology (in press), which has been published in final form at


    • serious games
    • pedagogy
    • game mechanics


    Dive into the research topics of 'Mapping learning and game mechanics for serious games analysis'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this