Dive Deeper

Empirical Analysis of Game Mechanics and Perceived Value in Serious Games

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Validation of serious games tends to focus on evaluating their design as a whole. While this helps to assess whether a particular combination of game mechanics is successful, it provides little insight into how individual mechanics contribute or detract from a serious game's purpose or a player's game experience. This study analyses the effect of game mechanics commonly used in casual games for engagement, measured as a combination of player behaviour and reported game experience. Secondly, it examines the role of a serious game's purpose on those same measures. An experimental study was conducted with 204 participants playing several versions of a serious game to explore these points. The results show that adding additional game mechanics to a core gameplay loop did not lead to participants playing more or longer, nor did it improve their game experience. Players who were aware of the game's purpose, however, perceived the game as more beneficial, scored their game experience higher, and progressed further. The results show that game mechanics on their own do not necessarily improve engagement, while the effect of perceived value deserves further study.