Developing a pilot methodology for the design and development of game-based intervention approaches

    Student thesis: Master's ThesisMaster of Science by Research


    A comprehensive guide in relationship and sex education (RSE) is necessary to ensure adolescents are equipped with necessary skills in order to make well informed decisions when entering into relationships and sexual relations. However, research indicates that educationalists attempting to convey these principles through didactic methods are finding difficulties engaging in meaningful discussion with their students, whether it be due to lack of training, motivation or engagement of the subject matter. Research into blended learning interventions such as game based learning has shown promise in delivering a viable and cost effective solution in this area whilst helping to promote open discussion amongst teachers and students in the classroom. To address the need for a new approach to delivering RSE, a serious game titled PR:EPARe (Positive Relationships: Eliminating Coercion and Pressure in Adolescent Relationships), developed by the Serious Games Institute (SGI) and Coventry University group, Studies in Adolescent Sexual Health (SASH) is proposed in an effort to assist the delivery of RSE concerning the topic of sexual and peer coercion to young people aged 13 to 14. The adoption of using a game based learning device developed from prior research carried out by the SASH group informs the choices taken for the context and learning objectives set out to be achieved by PR:EPARe. 
    The ideal methodology of serious games design and development is an area greatly contested by researchers with various theories including frameworks, models and methods available on the supreme way to aid development of game-based learning applications. Within the fray of these collected works, often reflections of similar features in serious games arise such as themes concerning pedagogy, visual design and technology. This thesis explores three of these methods of developing games and intervention methods for the development purpose of the game PR:EPARe. This research attempts to present a unified preliminary methodology for future evaluation as its main research contribution (please see Introduction, Chapter 1 for more information). The researcher draws conclusions and similarities from each of the three methodologies and as the lead designer (see Introduction, Chapter 1 for explanation) adopts these aspects into the development process of the PR:EPARe game. Finally the researcher presents a reflective analysis of the evaluation data, (evaluation designed and conducted by SASH) and presents conclusions on development methods adopted in the process of the PR:EPARe game that have shown positive results. These are gathered to form a unified methodology for further evaluation in future works. 
    As the research and development of PR:EPARe was conducted in collaboration with SASH and the SGI it must be made clear the role of the researcher in light of this research and the original contribution made. A full explanation of the role that the researcher (contributor of thesis) adopted: lead designer and the researcher’s contribution can be found in the Introduction, Chapter 1, and Section 1.5. 
    To address the overall aim and the objectives of this research, presented in this thesis is a reflective analysis conducted by the lead designer on the project PR:EPARe, a game based intervention approach conducted to tackle the topic of sexual coercion. This research is conducted from a game research and design perspective, documenting the development of the game and the process of applying user and pedagogic theories alongside game and intervention techniques. 
    To begin, the research will present a comparative analysis of three development methods/frameworks that were central in the making of the game PR:EPARe. The three methods/frameworks: Bartholomew’s Intervention Mapping approach [1], Hunicke et al’s Mechanics, Dynamics and Aesthetics Model [2] and De Freitas and Jarvis’s Four-Dimensional framework [3] were chosen through an extensive literary review conducted by the researcher of this thesis, the SGI and SASH. The researcher employed the use of the 4DF and the MDA frameworks whilst SASH developed the approaches outlined in the IM framework. Prior research conducted by SASH concerning the IM approach to develop PR:EPARe was used by the researcher in order to support and produce informed R&D decisions throughout the project. A comparison is drawn between each of the methods/frameworks linking the main corresponding themes that were used in the production of PR:EPARe. The overall aim of this research is to present a unified version of the methods/frameworks through a reflective analysis of the evaluation of PR:EPARe, amalgamating assessment, design, pedagogy and evaluation to present a new methodology to aid in future development of health based serious games.
    Date of Award2013
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • Coventry University
    SupervisorSylvester Arnab (Supervisor)

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