Mapping learning and game mechanics for serious games analysis

Sylvester Arnab, Theodore Lim, Maira B Carvalho, Francesco Bellotti, Sara De Freitas, Sandy Louchart, Neil Suttie, Riccardo Berta, Alessandro 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.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages21
JournalBritish Journal of Educational Technology
Early online date5 Jan 2014
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • Serious games
  • SG design
  • SG analysis
  • Pedagogy-driven SG
  • Serious Game Mechanics
  • LM-GM model
  • Usability evaluation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Computer Science Applications


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