The Be-attitudes of ‘Think Hybrid’

My previous post emphasises on the importance of a more hybrid approach when it comes to using gamification as an experience design tool. I talked about my views on this at the last Gamification Europe conference and summarised lessons learnt as the Be-Attitudes of Thinking Hybrid. Please check out my slides here:

You can catch up on the talk here (think i had tooo much coffee), and correction – my colleague Mike Duncan is a Prof in Exercise Science, and not Game Science – that’s me- DOH!:

Check out more keynotes from the conference here: Playlist

Well done to Pete Jenkins, Vasilis and team!!!

Early view – marrying learning and games for #seriousgames #gamification design in #highereducation

A paper co-written with Petros Lameras and Samantha Clarke is now available online (in press) to be published by British Journal of Educational Technology (BJET):

Lameras, P., Arnab, S., Dunwell, I., Stewart, C., Clarke, S. and Petridis, P. (2016), Essential features of serious games design in higher education: Linking learning attributes to game mechanics. British Journal of Educational Technology. doi: 10.1111/bjet.12467


This paper consolidates evidence and material from a range of specialist and disciplinary fields to provide an evidence-based review and synthesis on the design and use of serious games in higher education. Search terms identified 165 papers reporting conceptual and empirical evidence on how learning attributes and game mechanics may be planned, designed and implemented by university teachers interested in using games, which are integrated into lesson plans and orchestrated as part of a learning sequence at any scale. The findings outline the potential of classifying the links between learning attributes and game mechanics as a means to scaffold teachers’ understanding of how to perpetuate learning in optimal ways while enhancing the in-game learning experience. The findings of this paper provide a foundation for describing methods, frames and discourse around experiences of design and use of serious games, linked to methodological limitations and recommendations for further research in this area.

This paper forms part of the portfolio of work, where we are looking at serious games, GBL and gamification design and development methodology and considerations. Other papers include the transdiciplinary perspectives, SDT extensions to the LM-GM considerations, the holistic gamified design approach, etc.

GameChangers- where are we now

The pilot for GameChangers – an open programme aiming to introduce and foster Game Design Thinking is coming to the end. See the backstory (Alex’s blog post) to and description of the programme. The programme was structured in missions and quests based on the holistic and modular design considerations (see the snapshot of the main missions below).

Screen Shot 2016-03-21 at 10.08.55

Main missions – see descriptions

Within each mission, various workshops were organised to help facilitate the process, where we engaged players in games and gamification, such as Andrzej Marczewski.


Example games and gamification ideas being developed through the programme include:

The Office of Teaching and Learning  and a Gamified data collection approach for student experience– (@OTLCoventry)

Richard and a 3D Modelling survival game  (@Richie_Brooks – project updates here, and first video of prototype to date)

Jeremiah and the super Eco Runner concept (@J3yDs)

Zoe and GangLand Karma (@zophilpott  @ganglandkarma– Zoe is looking for interested parties to co-develop the game)

Screen Shot 2016-03-21 at 11.03.24


Sports Psychology and Games for physical activities and cognition (part of a masters module)

Kate and Lauren and Gamifying the DMLL Expo (@kategreen28 @laurenheywood)

DMLL and a Gamified workshop for exploring visual cues and narratives (@disrupt_learn)

Visual muse and narratives- What is your story?: a gamified session exploring creativity in the use of narratives and visual cues when describing abstract concepts. The session will employ cards, tokens and team competition. The themes will include Flipped Learning, Game-based Learning and Self-directed Learning. Participants will work in teams and create narratives and scenarios/ user cases using a three deck of cards. Arnab, S (2016)

The idea of providing open resources for exploratory learning in a more self-directed context is a huge challenge. Those who engaged have truly exploited the resources we provided and benefited from the experience. I will reflect on the lessons learnt through this pilot in my next blog post and tease out ideas on Game Changers future roll-out.

[Early View] Article on Transdisciplinary #Gamification #Seriousgames intervention development process

The Early View  version of the article I mentioned in my Sept blog post is now online ahead of the online publication of the British Journal of Educational Technology (BJET) journal issue.

Arnab, S. and Clarke, S. (In Press), Towards a trans-disciplinary methodology for a game-based intervention development process. British Journal of Educational Technology. doi: 10.1111/bjet.12377

In this article, we define a trans-disciplinary model for a game-based intervention development as a strategy or methodology that crosses many disciplinary boundaries to create a holistic approach. Even though a development team should ideally consist of all relevant disciplines, in reality the team would have to rely on limited resources. A more correlated methodological model derived from a transdisciplinary process could thus act as a guide to inform development considerations and process.

4DFIMThis article reflects on the considerations leading to an understanding of the trans-disciplinary perspectives of the development process. We touch on the adopted theories and frameworks from the domain of serious games, health intervention, entertainment games and pedagogy that have collectively informed the process, which include:

  • Four-Dimensional Framework (4DF) (de Freitas & Jarvis 2008)-commonly used to inform considerations for serious games evaluation and design,
  • Intervention Mapping (IM) approach (Batholomew et al. 2011)- a methodology that guides the design, implementation and evaluation of health intervention programmes,
  • Mechanics Dynamics Aesthetics model (MDA) (Hunnicke et al. 2004)- a framework that acts as a guideline for entertainment game design, and
  • Learning Mechanics-Game Mechanics (LM-GM) mapping (Lim et al. 2013, Arnab et al. 2015) – the mapping of pedagogical aspects to game mechanics.

The article illustrates how existing design and development processes can be analysed and reflected upon towards documenting considerations, perspectives and methods that can be correlated and infused into a holistic methodology. This paper highlights the feasibility of infusing approaches relevant in different disciplines in order to inform the design and development of game-based intervention. Game development considerations can be deconstructed into four key dimensions using the 4DF model exploiting a participatory-driven context and learner’s profiling using the IM approach. The MDA and the LM-GM models inform the mapping of relevant pedagogical aspects against the entertainment attributes of gameplay.

The components from the different approaches when integrated formulate a trans-disciplinary model that can be adopted by other researchers, designers and developers. This paper discusses the possibility of looking at an existing design and development project and reflect on the process, considerations and decisions made, which could be used as guidelines for future development. Further work will include adoptions in other game-based learning interventions that will lead to validations of the process and adopting the same approach in analysing and reflecting on other SG design and development projects.


Arnab S., Lim T., Carvalho M. B., Bellotti F., de Freitas S., Louchart S., Suttie N., Berta R., De Gloria A. (2015). Mapping Learning and Game Mechanics for Serious Games Analysis, British Journal of Educational Technology, 46: 391-411 doi: 10.1111/bjet.12113

Bartholomew, L. K., Parcel, G. S., Kok, G., Gottlieb, N. H. & Fernandez, M. E. (2011). Planning health promotion programs: an intervention mapping approach (3rd ed.). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

de Freitas,S. & Jarvis, S. (2008). Towards a development approach for serious games in Connolly,T.M., Stansfield,M., Boyle,E. (ed.) Games-based learning advancements for multi-sensory human-computer interfaces: Techniques and effective practices. Hershey: IGI Global

Hunicke, R., LeBlanc, M., Zubek, R. 2004. MDA: A Formal Approach to Game Design and Game Research. Proceedings of the Challenges in Game AI Workshop, Nineteenth National Conference on Artificial Intelligence.

Lim, T., Louchart, S., Suttie, N., Ritchie, J., Aylett, R., Stanescu, I. A. et al (2013). Strategies for effective digital games development and implementation. In Y. Baek & N.Whitton (Eds), Cases on digital game-based learning: methods, models, and strategies (pp. 168–198). Hershey, PA: Information Science Reference.


Time and Space

It’s been a while since my last post as time has flown so quickly this year and space (both digital and physical) has been filled up with exciting stuffs that need attending to. So what’s new?

Trying to make sense of the different projects I am involved in at the DMLL. First point of action- writing a paper on four of them collectively, which is a great start. I’m chairing a track at the ECGBL 2015 on the topic of Pervasive and Ubiquitous Gaming for Learning and naturally fitting in some of the exciting work we are doing at the DMLL would be a good way to share our findings and lesson learnt.

The paper discusses our perspectives on pervasive learning based on our investigation of learning spaces, the use of game mechanics in blended learning environments, the crossings between gamification and pervasive gaming, and the potential of Beacons as an enabling context-aware technology.

The DMLL is a cross-university initiative designed to promote open dialogues, collaborative work and exploratory play for all interested in defining the 21st century university. We are working with staffs across the university who came up with ideas and challenges concerning their existing teaching and learning practices as Coventry University (see projects). We are also working with industrial partners, such as Playgen, Ifinity and Learnium.

My own personal research on ‘game science- from design to uptake’ is still on going. The paper on a trans-disciplinary model submitted to BJET that is currently undergoing revisions based on the reviewers’ feedback will form the basis of the study. More case studies will be explored on my scholar visit to the PLAIT lab at Northeastern and the Game Lab and Education Arcade at the MIT, Boston (4-22 May).

Mini track call for papers on Pervasive and Ubiquitous gaming for learning

There will be a mini track dedicated to Ubiquitous and Pervasive Gaming at the ECGBL 2015 in Norway (8-9 Oct). The description is as follows:


Mini track call for papers on Pervasive and Ubiquitous gaming for learning  

Mini track chair: Dr. Sylvester Arnab, Disruptive Media Learning Lab (DMLL), Coventry University, UK

Ubiquitous computing including mobile and location-based technologies have fuelled a proliferation of opportunities for digitally-enabled play in everyday spaces that increases flexibility for learners and the boundaries of anytime, anywhere learning. Sensors built into mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets for instance determine a player’s location, opening up opportunities for a more pervasive approach to learning, where context-aware educational resources in the surrounding environment can be triggered.

 A pervasive game blends physical and digital spaces, concurrently with the normal activities of players’ everyday lives. A pervasive approach to gaming is both an exciting and commercially promising form of computer game that builds on a combination of hybrid interfaces, wireless networking, and context-sensing technologies, which is a strong component of future scenarios for education, opening up opportunities for a more seamless approach to be implemented towards engaging learners with educational activities.

Possible topics include but are not limited to:

  • Location-based and mobile gaming
  • Augmented learning using game technology
  • Gamification and ubiquitous/pervasive learning
  • Alternate Reality Games (ARGs)
  • Procedural content generation for context-aware games
  • State-of-the art in pervasive gaming for learning, including case studies related to Primary, Secondary and/or Higher education
  • Context-aware platforms for learning

 More detail here with submission information:  

Submissions can be made on-line directly on the Abstract submission page

Important dates:

Abstract (300-500 words) submission deadline: 18 March 2015

Notification of abstract acceptance: 26 March 2015

Full paper due for review : 7 May 2015


Please feel free to circulate to your network.

Looking for a home for your PhD research? Or would you like to collaborate with us?

The blending of digital and physical spaces is changing the way we approach teaching and learning.This opens up opportunities for traditional approaches to be taken apart and put back together. There are pedagogical and technological questions to be addressed.

As part of the forward looking Disruptive Media Learning Lab (DMLL) based at Coventry University (the university has recently been awarded Modern University of the year and best in Student Experience), I’m excited about these opportunities and the various topics that can be explored and experimented. Specific areas I’m interested in include:

  • gameful and persuasive design (including game-based learning and gamification),
  • pervasive technology and learning
  • the understanding of engagement in gaming in terms of the emotions that motivate and how these would influence the way we learn
  • alternate and mixed reality in teaching and learning
  • seamless learning experience in a digital saturated ecosystem


DMLL is designed as a cross-University experimental unit that will provide support for new and on-going pedagogic development in new and disruptive technological spaces. The Lab draws upon areas from which the University has established a track record of innovation, e.g, the Serious Games Institute, which has pioneered the use of games science in educational content delivery and the Media Department’s teaching and learning ‘experiments’ with Open Media Classes.

We are excited to work with keen researchers.

Please contact me privately if you are interested to do a PhD with us or if you would like to collaborate with us in R&D within the area of disruptive media and technology.