GALA report on Serious Games Mechanics

The notion of Serious Games Mechanics (SGM) stems from findings on serious game (SG) literature (Lim et al, 2013; 2014; Arnab et al., 2014) and workshops (Lim et al, 2014a). An initial analysis revealed that challenges stem from the transition from instructional design to actual game design and the insolvency in evidence mapping of Game Design Patterns onto relevant pedagogical patterns. These represent the main knowledge gaps in SG design from both academic and industrial perspectives. From the discussions with a number of SG designers it is clear that this transition lacks methodology and requires a leap of faith from a prospective customer in the ability of a SG developer to deliver a game that will achieve the desired learning outcomes.

Game mechanics are a core component of any game design as they represent the foundation of the gameplay, which in turn influences the engagement of the learner-player. The general construction of game mechanics involves rules that control processes not only for interactivity but which also link other gaming mechanics in a “system of systems. This leads to the necessity of mapping pedagogical goals onto appropriate game mechanics and, consequently, to develop deeper insights into SG design patterns and instructional/pedagogy-driven design elements.

The SGM framework is discussed in detail in the GALA D2.4 deliverable “Report on Serious Games Mechanics”. Its goal is to find a common ground that combines top-down and bottom-up approaches for pedagogically-driven game design. Unique and contrasting to present state of the art models, the SGM uses a learning mechanic and game mechanic (LM-GM) mapping with a Purpose, Process, and Structure methodology (PPSM). It is a systems engineering approach for SG analysis and design to meet specific curricula context and content. This basis allows the documentation and elicitation of the needs and required functionality through the SG development lifecycle synthesising the design and validation to create a structured relationship between gameplay and pedagogical practice. The intention is to provide deep insights into the effectiveness of game mechanics and the role they play towards the learning outcomes.

Thus, the SGM framework is primarily aimed at establishing which game mechanics relate to relevant pedagogical objectives in a SG. It is not the intention for the SGM framework to be a formulaic approach to SG design. Instead, it is about providing a set of structures functions, which in turn will make up a toolkit for SG R&D, regression modelling and testing. The view is that, together with the SG-MIF (Stanescu et al, 2012) and the Learning analytics, the SGM framework would address the link currently missing in the state of the art to support more pragmatic, robust and effective design and deployment of SGs.

More detail can be found in the GALA D2.4 “Report for Serious Games Mechanics” deliverable, which will be available after September 2014.

For the complete report or feedback, please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.”> with:

  1. i) Name ii) Affiliation iii) comments (Optional).




Arnab S., Lim T., Carvalho M. B., Bellotti F., de Freitas S., Louchart S., Suttie N., Berta R., De Gloria A. (2014a) Mapping Learning and Game Mechanics for Serious Games Analysis, British Journal of Educational Technology. doi: 10.1111/bjet.12113

Lim, T., Louchart, S., Suttie, N., Baalsrud Hauge, J., Stanescu, I. A., Ortiz, I. M., Moreno-Ger, P., Bellotti, F., Carvalho, M.B., Earp, J., Ott, M., Arnab, S., & Berta, R. (2014). Narrative Serious Game Mechanics (NSGM)–Insights into the Narrative-Pedagogical Mechanism. In Games for Training, Education, Health and Sports (pp. 23-34). Springer International Publishing.

Lim, T., Louchart, S., Suttie, N., Baalsrud Hauge, J., Stanescu, I. A., Bellotti, F., Carvalho, M.B., Earp, J., Ott, M., Arnab, S., Brown, D. (2014a) Serious Game Mechanics, Workshop on the Ludo- Pedagogical mechanism. GameDays 2014, Darmstadt, Germany.

Lim, T., Louchart, S., Suttie, N., Ritchie, J., Aylett, R., Stanescu, I. A., Roceanu, I., Martinez-Ortiz, I. & Moreno-Ger, P. (2013). Strategies for effective digital games development and implementation. Cases on digital game-based learning: Methods, models, and strategies, 168-198.

Stănescu, I. A., Kravcik, M., Stefan, A., Lim, T., & Bidarra, R. (2012). Interoperability strategies for serious games development. In Conference proceedings of” eLearning and Software for Education”(eLSE) (No. 02, pp. 373-378).

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