Presented By CyGames
Selene: a lunar construction game

Videogame Research Brings Initial Findings

Date Posted: Tue Sep 18 2007

Early results from the NASA-sponsored Classroom of the Future’s study into videogaming show evidence of important findings for researchers and game designers.

The Classroom of the Future™ created the Selene videogame this year as part of an investigation into how students can best learn NASA science through videogames. The lunar science online game is the centerpiece of the study that began in May. Selene players create their own moon and then pepper it with impact craters and flood it with lava to mimic the development of Earth’s Moon.

So far researchers at the Classroom of the Future have analyzed the first 10 minutes of participation in the study environment for approximately 800 players ages 13-18. During the first five minutes of the study, all players took part in the same activity; that is, they watched an introductory video and practiced with an assessment tool, called the flowometer. For the second five minutes half the study participants watched a video of Selene gameplay, while the other half began playing the game.

The data analysis shows evidence that (a) the flowometer tool used to measure player engagement (flow) during gameplay is sensitive enough to discriminate distinctions in players’ gameplay experience, and (b) participants who play the game moved from relaxation to a more engaged state than did those who simply observed the game.

According to Debbie Denise Reese, project lead, the findings are important for two reasons. First, they suggest the flowometer tool that measures engagement is an effective research instrument. Second, they suggest the Selene game is indeed engaging, which is important for the design of any game, educational or otherwise, to be successful.

The study is ongoing.