The systematic literature search was conducted on academic papers from 2000-2012 from online electronic  databases including Association for Computing Machinery (ACM); Cambridge Journals Online; Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineering (IEEE); Index to theses; IGI Global; Ingenta Connect; Science Direct; Springer Link; Wiley Online Library; Extended Academic ASAP; Simulation and Gaming and Emerald. The search terms used were as follows:


(“serious games” OR “games-based learning”) AND

(ecology OR environment OR sustainability)

The results of the literature search are provided below.


Amory, A. (2001). Building an educational adventure game: Theory, design, and lessons. Journal of Interactive Learning Research, 12.

Presents a model of software development for an "edventure" (educational adventure) game based on educational theory, and highlights the lessons learned in the development of Zadarh, a game designed to address misconceptions held by biology students. The game object model (GOM) is described, an overview of the game is provided, and the use of the GOM in the design of the game is discussed. It is concluded that the GOM was useful as it allowed educational philosophies to be closely allied with game development and provided a framework for story and interactive puzzle creation. While the creations of game resources were complex, reporting of solutions to common problems is seen to decrease the learning curve in developing such educational and interactive learning tools.


Annetta, Leonard, A., Cheng, Meng-Tzu, Holmes, Shawn. (2010). Assessing twenty-first century skills through a teacher created video game for high school biology students. Research in Science and Technology Education 28, 101-114.

As twenty-first century skills become a greater focus in K-12 education, an infusion of technology that meets the needs of today's students is paramount. This study looks at the design and creation of a Multiplayer Educational Gaming Application (MEGA) for high school biology students. The quasi-experimental, qualitative design assessed the twenty-first century skills of digital age literacy, inventive thinking, high productivity, and effective communication techniques of the students exposed to a MEGA. Three factors, as they pertained to these skills, emerged from classroom observations. Interaction with the teacher, discussion with peers, and engagement/time-on-task while playing the MEGA suggested that students playing an educational video game exhibited all of the projected twenty-first century skills while being engrossed in the embedded science content.  


Bare, B. Bruce. (2006). A globalization simulation to teach corporate social responsibility: Design features and analysis of student reasoning. Simulation and Gaming.

There is an increasing need for business students to be taught the ability to think through ethical dilemmas faced by corporations conducting business on a global scale. This article describes a multiplayer online simulation game, ISLAND TELECOM, that exposes students to ethical dilemmas in international business. Through role playing and perspective taking, the authors wanted students to actively work through problems related to both ethics and corporate social responsibility. Qualitative analysis of simulation data demonstrated that students were successful in perspective taking, they considered trade-offs between profitability and social responsibility, and they were able to come up with creative solutions to difficult trade-offs.


Barko, Tim; Sadler, Troy D.  Learning Outcomes Associated with Classroom Implementation of a Biotechnology-Themed Video Game.  American Biology Teacher, v75 n1 p29-33

The educational video game Mission Biotech provides a virtual experience for students in learning biotechnology materials and tools. This study explores the use of Mission Biotech and the associated curriculum by three high school teachers and their students. All three classes demonstrated gains on a curriculum-aligned test of science content. Students from two of the classes showed gains on a standards-aligned test of content; students from the third class did not demonstrate statistically significant gains. This result is attributable to a ceiling effect. The results support the idea that video games can be useful in classroom contexts. No statistically significant changes were found when looking at how the game affected student attitudes toward science and science careers.


Bidarra, Jose Martins,Olimpio (2010). Exploratory learning with Geodromo: design of emotional and cognitive factors within an educational cross-media experience.  Journal of Research on Technology in Education, 43(2).

In this paper we present Geodromo, a prototype of an educational multimedia system, part of the Portuguese Ciencia Viva (Live Science) educational program, which is aimed at young people and designed with innovative characteristics. The project is based on a robotic multimedia simulator and an online puzzle game aimed at the exploratory learning of geology, climate, biology, and archeology associated with a Portuguese National Park. The development of the prototype was challenging, as it involved the interweaving of advanced technology and multimedia content with online resources, based on research that promotes the design of emotional and cognitive factors in educational communications. Independent of the scientific relevance of the topics and the inherent technocultural appeal of the project, the aim was to bring students closer to an "undercover" reality, as authentic as it gets with digital media representations, and allow them to convey emotions naturally. We found these to be major success factors in the establishment of an effective relationship between the technology and the pedagogy required to study those particular topics.


Cahier, J.-P., N. El Mawas, C. Zhou, and A. Bénel. (2011). Web 2.0, Serious Game: Structuring Knowledge for Participative and Educative Representations of the City. In Proceedings of the 2011 IET International Conference on Smart and Sustainable City, Shanghai, China, 166-171.

To complete the “Pandora21” project, that tackles the issue of creating awareness and action concerning sustainability by using “serious games”, we propose a methodological and technical solution to make the space of the game massively "participative", at the scale of a city or of a territory. Such a space has to propose rich functions allowing not only to confront multiple players using the existing objects of this space, but also to co-design the space of the game. Co-building of the scenes, discussing of the rules are possible for a wide group. Local partners of a given city will be able to add easily scenes, elements of scenes and micro-games transposing appropriate sustainability situations for their city by rapid prototyping, without having to pass by the computer specialists. Hypertopic, a multi-viewpoints model, will used to ensure a plurality of views on the city. The space of the game will be indeed "participative" at the same time for players and designers groups


Cai, Yiyu; Lu, Baifang; Zheng, Jianmin; Li, Lin (2006). Immersive Protein Gaming for Bio Edutainment. Simulation & Gaming, v37 n4 p466-475 Dec 2006

 Games have long been used as a tool for teaching important subject matter, from concept building to problem solving. Through fun learning, students may further develop their curiosities and interest in their study. This article addresses the issue of learning biomolecular structures by virtual reality gaming. A bio edutainment solution featuring stereographic visualization, 3D modeling, and game interaction is developed for students to learn amino acids, alpha-helices, beta-sheets, and other protein structure information. A pilot study is performed in this work with Singapore Chinese High School; initial results of this study are presented.


Cardona, Tania da S.; Spiegel, Carolina N.; Alves, Gutemberg G.; Ducommun, Jacques; Henriques-Pons, Andrea; Araujo-Jorge, Tania C. (2007). Introducing DNA Concepts to Swiss High School Students Based on a Brazilian Educational Game. Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Education, v35 n6 p416-421 Nov-Dec 2007.

Subjects such as techniques for genetic diagnosis, cloning, sequencing, and gene therapy are now part of our lives and raise important questions about ethics, future medical diagnosis, and such. Students from different countries observe this explosion of biotechnological applications regardless of their social, academic, or cultural backgrounds, although they are not usually familiar with their theoretical genetic bases. To introduce some molecular biology concepts for high school students, we developed a new problem for the Brazilian board game "Discovering the cell" ("Celula Adentro[C]" in Portuguese), a pedagogic tool based on inquiry-, cooperative-, and problem-based learning. This problem ("Case") is based on the forensic DNA, which represents an interesting theme for students, as it recurrently appears on newspapers and television series. In this work, we tested this game with secondary students and teachers from Switzerland. Our results indicate that the game "Discovering the cell" is well accepted by both students and teachers and may represent a good pedagogical approach to help teaching complex themes in molecular biology, even with students from different socio-economical, cultural, and academic backgrounds.


Cardoso, F.S., Dumpel, R., da Silva, L. B., Rodriguez, C. R., Santos, D. O., Cabral, L. M., Castro, H. C. (2008). Just working with the cellular machine: A high school game for teaching molecular biology. Biochemistry And Molecular Biology Education: A Bimonthly Publication Of The International Union Of Biochemistry And Molecular Biology [Biochem Mol Biol Educ] 2008 Mar; Vol. 36 (2), pp. 120-4. 

Molecular biology is a difficult comprehension subject due to its high complexity, thus requiring new teaching approaches. Herein, we developed an interdisciplinary board game involving the human immune system response against a bacterial infection for teaching molecular biology at high school. Initially, we created a database with several questions and a game story that invites the students for helping the human immunological system to produce antibodies (IgG) and fight back a pathogenic bacterium second-time invasion. The game involves answering questions completing the game board in which the antibodies "are synthesized" through the molecular biology process. At the end, a problem-based learning approach is used, and a last question is raised about proteins. Biology teachers and high school students evaluated the game and considered it an easy and interesting tool for teaching the theme. An increase of about 5-30% in answering molecular biology questions revealed that the game improves learning and induced a more engaged and proactive learning profile in the high school students.


Cher P. Lim, Darren Nonis and John Hedberg (2006). Gaming in a 3D multiuser virtual environment: engaging students in Science lessons.  British Journal of Educational Technology Volume 37, Issue 2, pages 211–231, March 2006 

Based on the exploratory study of a 3D multiuser virtual environment (3D MUVE), known as Quest Atlantis (QA), in a series of Primary Four (10- to 11-year-olds) Science lessons at Orchard Primary School in Singapore, this paper examines the issues of learning engagement and describes the socio-cultural context of QA's implementation. The students and teacher were observed during the lessons, interviewed after, and the completed quests were analysed to determine the level of engagement achieved. A pre- and posttest on the Science concepts covered was also administered. A seven-level taxonomy of engagement was used to provide the study with a more holistic perspective of engagement, together with the attempt to concretise the element of engagement into observable traits. Although there was a significant improvement of the posttest over the pretest, the level of engagement of the students was low (between 3 and 4). The lack of engagement might be a result of the distractions in the 3D MUVE, the students’ difficulty with language used in the QA, their lack of computer competency for QA tasks, and/or their inability to complete the quests’ section on reflections. The biggest challenges to the integration of QA into the Science curriculum were the interdependent issues of time (or lack of it) and ‘buy-in’ by the school and parents.


Cheung, Kevin; Jong, Morris; Lee, F.; Lee, Jimmy; Luk, Eric; Shang, Junjie; Wong, Marti. (2008). FARMTASIA: an online game-based learning environment based on the VISOLE pedagogy. Virtual Reality, Volume 12, Number 1, March 2008 , pp. 17-25(9).

Virtual interactive student-oriented learning environment (VISOLE) is a game-based constructivist pedagogical approach that encompasses the creation of an online interactive world modeled upon a set of interdisciplinary domains, in which students participate as “citizens” to take part cooperatively and competitively in shaping the development of the virtual world as a means to construct their knowledge and skills. FARMTASIA is the first online game designed using the VISOLE philosophy, encompassing the subject areas of biology, government, economics, technology, production system and natural environment. The “virtual world” deployed is a farming system covering the domains of cultivation, horticulture and pasturage, situated in a competitive economy governed by good public policies. The design and implementation of FARMTASIA pursue three vital principles. The first one is to make the game as realistic as possible so that students can learn in a near-real life environment; the second one is to inject motivational elements so that students can sustain to learn and acquire various knowledge and skills with the game; and the third one is to make easy for teachers to conduct various VISOLE facilitation tasks. According to our exploratory educational study, we show evidentially that positive perceptions and an advancement of subject-specific and interdisciplinary knowledge appeared among the students who participated in VISOLE learning with FARMTASIA.


Cleland, Deborah; Dray, Anne; Perez, Pascal; Cruz-Trinidad, Annabelle; Geronimo, Rollan (2012). Simulating the Dynamics of Subsistence Fishing Communities: REEFGAME as a Learning and Data-Gathering Computer-Assisted Role-Play Game.  Simulation & Gaming, v43 n1 p102-117. 

REEFGAME is a computer-assisted role-playing game that explores the interactions among management strategies, livelihood options, and ecological degradation in subsistence fishing communities. The tool has been successfully used in the Philippines and a variety of student workshops. In the field, REEFGAME operated as a two-way learning tool, helping local fishers better understand their collective impacts on the marine ecosystem and providing researchers with insights into fisher livelihood strategies. This demonstrates the game’s ability to serve as powerful springboard for social learning and discussion among stakeholders, while providing useful scientific insights into decision-making processes. Although not specifically designed for the purpose, REEFGAME has also been used in the university setting to facilitate student engagement and demonstrate a range of social and ecological concepts.


Dede, C., Clarke, J., Ketelhut, D.J., Nelson, B. and Bowman, C. (2005). Students’ motivation and learning of science in a multi-user virtual environment. Paper presented at the meeting of the American Educational Research Association, Montréal, Quebec.

Abstract: This NSF-funded project utilizes graphical multi-user virtual environments (MUVEs) as a vehicle to study (1) classroom-based situated learning and (2) the ways in which virtual environments may aid the transfer of learning from classroom contexts into real world settings. In the project’s River City curriculum, teams of middle school students are asked to collaboratively solve a simulated 19th century city’s problems with illness, through interaction with each others’ “avatars,” digital artifacts, tacit visual and auditory clues, and computer-based “agents” acting as mentors and colleagues in a virtual community of practice. In this paper, we provide an overview of results from a large-scale implementation of the River City environment and curriculum in Spring 2004. Our findings show that students and teachers were highly engaged, that student attendance improved, that disruptive behavior dropped, and that interesting patterns are emerging about which students do best under our various pedagogical conditions.


Dray, A., P. Perez, C. LePage, P. D’Aquino, and I. White. (2005). Companion Modelling Approach: The AtollGame Experience in Tarawa Atoll (Republic of Kiribati). In Proceedings of the 2005 International Congress on Modelling and Simulation, 1601-9. Canberra: Modelling and Simulation Society of Australia and New Zealand.

Low coral islands are heavily dependent on groundwater for freshwater supplies. The availability, quality, and management of groundwater are central to sustainable development and poverty alleviation in many developing small island nations. The declaration by the Government of Kiribati of water reserves on the atoll of Tarawa, over privately owned land, has lead to conflicts, illegal settlements and vandalism of public assets. Beside, the water consumption per capita tends to increase towards western-like standards, threatening the sustainability of the actual exploitation system. Finally, pollution generated by the 45 000 habitants of South Tarawa has already contaminated all the freshwater lenses, with the exception of the existing reserves so far.

Our project, called AtollGame, aims at providing the relevant information to the local actors, including institutional and local community representatives in order to facilitate the dialogue and devise together sustainable and equitable water management practices. Multi-Agent Based Simulations (MABS) coupled with a Role-Playing Game have been implemented to fulfil this aim.

They have the potential to greatly reduce conflict over natural resource management and resource allocation. In order to collect, understand and merge viewpoints coming from different stakeholders, the following 3-stage methodology is applied: collecting local and expert knowledge, blending the different viewpoints into a game-based-model, playing the game with the different stakeholders in order to explore different scenario and their simulated outcomes. Although game sessions delivered successful outcomes, the final stage of the project is characterised by the upheaval of contradictory Government stands that undermine the whole process. It is argued that heterogeneous viewpoints may be handled in a satisfactory manner during the gaming sessions, but that long-term hidden agendas may override the outcomes. Beyond the inherent question of legitimacy attached to such approaches, it is clear, from our experience, that some players – especially those representing Government or supra-national institutions – have to deal with constraints that are often genuinely first considered as external to the on-going negotiation process.


Farrell, D., Kostkova, P., Weinberg, J., Lazareck, L., Weerasinghe, D., Lecky, D. M., and McNulty, C.A.M. (2011).  Computer games to teach hygiene: an evaluation of the e-Bug junior game. Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy.

Handwashing, respiratory hygiene and antibiotic resistance remain major public health concerns. In order to facilitate an effective outcome when teaching the basic principles of hand and respiratory hygiene, educational interventions should first target school children. As computer games are ubiquitous in most children's lives, e-Bug developed computer games targeted at teaching children handwashing, respiratory hygiene and antibiotic resistance. The games were designed for two target audiences: junior school children (9–12 year olds); and senior school children (13–15 year olds). Between May and August 2009, the finalized junior game underwent an evaluation in three UK schools (in Glasgow, Gloucester and London), involving 62 children in the schools and ∼1700 players accessing the junior game online. The e-Bug junior game consists of a number of levels of play, each of which promotes a set of learning outcomes (LOs). These LOs, complementary to those in the e-Bug packs, are expressed through the game mechanics (the rules of the game) rather than through story or dialogue. Although the junior game's evaluation demonstrated a statistically significant change in the knowledge for only a small number of given LOs, because many children had the required knowledge already before playing the game, this is e-Bug's first statistical study on the junior game and the first comprehensive evaluation of its kind. Future work includes a re-examination of the quiz-style questionnaires utilized in this study and an exploration of the potential knowledge change acquired strictly through engagement.


Folta, Elizabeth Eason (2010). Investigating the Impact on Student Learning and Outdoor Science Interest through Modular Serious Educational Games: A Design-Based Research Study. ProQuest LLC, Ph.D. Dissertation, North Carolina State University

In an effort to get children back outdoors and exploring the natural environment, a Modular Serious Educational Game (mSEG), Red Wolf Caper, was created as part of a design-based research study. Red Wolf Caper uses a combination of an augmented reality (AR) game and a serious educational game (SEG) to capture the students' interest in the natural world around them. The game is set around a mystery in which red wolves in eastern North Carolina are being poisoned. The students are asked to portray the role of a wildlife biologist, botanist, or entomologist, whose job it is to determine who is poisoning the red wolves. MSEG are a new form of SEG that is divided into components or modules. Each module has to be completed before the player can move on to the next module. A module can take on any format, but must encompass the storyline of the game and end in an assessment. The study focused on three research questions. How would students improve the Red Wolf Caper mSEG? Do mSEG affect students' understanding in environmental education concepts, specifically, collecting, evaluating, and developing an explanation for data they collected in the game and knowledge of environmental systems and biological and social implications for the reintroduction of a species? Which role within the mSEG do the students choose and what is their reasoning behind choosing that particular role? The game was tested by 81 middle school students during six sessions in June 2010. The study participants played the game and participated in design sessions. In addition, they were given a 5-question pretest/posttest, role selection survey, and Serious Educational Game Rubric (SEGR). They were asked to develop a hypothesis and provide evidence to support their hypothesis. Finally, they were asked to write a letter to a local in judge explaining the importance of the red wolf reintroduction project. Twenty-three students were selected to participate in interviews to determine how to improve the game and why they chose the role they did. The mean student score for the SEGR was 18.13 out of 28. Five categories in particular stood out as needing improvement: "rules," "increasing complexity," "manipulation," "identity," and "tutorial/ practice level." Sixty-nine completed pretests/posttests final scores were analyzed using a paired t-test (p = 0.000046). The letters to the judge showed that study participants understood scientific concepts and were able to apply them to real world settings that were only portrayed briefly in the game, such as the food chain. Study participants chose to play one of three roles: a wildlife biologist (n = 64), an entomologist (n = 10), and a botanist (n = 6). Their reason behind choosing a role included interest in learning more about the topic or the profession, a previous positive experience in that field, thought the role sounded fun or exciting, the role was better than the alternatives, or misunderstood the role. The experience overall was positive for the participants. They felt they learned how to identify tracks, scat, trees, and invertebrates depending on the role they played. The AR field tests were one of their favorite parts about the game. Only one student expressed that they did not like the game, while the others not only enjoyed playing the game, but felt that is was a good educational tool. This study explores only one possibility of how mSEGs can be used in education. [The dissertation citations contained here are published with the permission of ProQuest LLC. Further reproduction is prohibited without permission.


Gamberini, L., G. Jacucci, A. Spagnolli, N. Corradi, et al. (2011). Saving is Fun: Designing a Persuasive Game for Power Conservation. In Proceedings of the 8th International Conference on Advances in Computer Entertainment Technology. ACM, New York, USA.

 EnergyLife is a mobile game application that aims at increasing energy awareness and saving in the household; it centers around a feedback system with detailed, historical and real time information that is based on wireless power sensors data. The challenge is to provide through feedback knowledge and motivation for sustainable saving. A three-month field test in eight households was organized for EnergyLife. The test involved the automatic collection of access data to the application, and the administration of satisfaction questionnaires, interviews, and usability tasks in the tested families. The paper describes the results of the test and the ensuing re-design strategy, centered on better tailoring the application to the players’ actions. The lessons learned can be useful to other persuasive games, since a good fit to the actions of the user is a precondition of effectiveness of any persuasive application.


Guizol, P. and H. Purnomo. (2005). A Game to Level the Playing Field: The case of Community-Company Partnership in Forest Plantations. In Proceedings of the 2005 International Congress on Modelling and Simulation, 38-44. Canberra: Modelling and Simulation Society of Australia and New Zealand.


Gustafsson, A., M. Bång, and M. Svahn. (2009). Power Explorer: A Casual Game Style for Encouraging Long Term Behavior Change Among Teenagers. ACM International Conference Proceeding Series (422), 182-189. ACM New York, NY, USA

When it comes to motivating teenagers towards energy awareness, new approaches need to be considered. One such is the use of pervasive games connected to the players own energy consumption. Earlier work has confirmed this to be a highly effective approach. The question however remains if post game effects on behavior can be achieved. In this paper we try to answer this by trying out a slightly different design compared to previous work. The hypothesis is that a more casual game play and a richer learning interaction enabled by building the game on a real time sensor system could stimulate more lasting effects. Electric consumption data after the 7 days evaluation on a test group of 15 players shows tentative indications for a persistent post game effect compared to the control group of 20 households. Findings also show a statistically significant positive change in the players' attitude towards saving energy compared to the same group. Findings, at the same time, also indicate a negative effect on the player's attitude toward environmental questions in general.


Hirose, Y., J. Sugiura, and K. Shimomoto. (2004). Industrial waste management simulation game and its educational effect. Journal of Material Cycles and Waste Management 6(1):58-63.

The purposes of this study were to develop the Industrial Waste Game and to examine the validity of this game as a tool for environmental education. The aim of this game is to enable players to understand the social dilemma between individual interest of hazardous dumping and the social cost of purifying pollution, and to find a solution to the social dilemma by providing the monitoring and sanction system for illegal dumping or other efficient systems. The game was played by 213 undergraduate students who were divided into 40 groups of 5 to 6 people. One of 4 combinations of monitoring and penalty conditions was assigned to each group. The players were asked to answer questionnaires concerning their interests and understanding of the industrial waste issue before and after the game to evaluate educational effects. The results indicated that the players increased their awareness of industrial waste problems and came to understand that these problems were caused not by psychological factors such as immorality of the illegal dumper but mainly by social structural factors like the social dilemma. Through playing the game and participating in post-game discussion, players were able to obtain interesting experience and gain motivation to learn more.


Hwang, G. J., Sung, H. Y., Hung, C. M., Huang, I., Tsai, C. C. (2012). Development of a Personalized Educational Computer Game Based on Students’ Learning Styles. Special Issue on Personalized Learning, 60(4), Springer, 623-638

In recent years, many researchers have been engaged in the development of educational computer games; however, previous studies have indicated that, without supportive models that take individual students' learning needs or difficulties into consideration, students might only show temporary interest during the learning process, and their learning performance is often not as good as expected. Learning styles have been recognized as being an important human factor affecting students' learning performance. Previous studies have shown that, by taking learning styles into account, learning systems can be of greater benefit to students owing to the provision of personalized learning content presentation that matches the information perceiving and processing styles of individuals. In this paper, a personalized game-based learning approach is proposed based on the sequential/global dimension of the learning style proposed by Felder and Silverman. To evaluate the effectiveness of the proposed approach, a role-playing game has been implemented based on the approach; moreover, an experiment has been conducted on an elementary school natural science course. From the experimental results, it is found that the personalized educational computer game not only promotes learning motivation, but also improves the learning achievements of the students. 

Isaacs, J. A, B. Dolinsky, D. M. Qualters, and J. T. Laird. (2009). Engineering Decisions to Green the utomobile Supply Chain. In Environmental Issues and Waste Management Technologies in the Materials and Nuclear Industries XII, Edited by A. Cozzi and T. Ohji, 225-234. John Wiley & Sons


Jennifer L. Eastwood, Troy D. Sadler (accepted). Teachers’ Implementation of a Game-Based Biotechnology Curriculum. Computers and Education 

Research in education suggests that computer games can serve as powerful learning environments, however, teachers perceive many obstacles to using games as teaching tools. In this study, we examine three science teachers’ implementation and perceptions of a curriculum unit incorporating the game, Mission Biotech (MBt) and a set of supporting curriculum materials. The curriculum unit was designed to provide multiple avenues for teachers to adjust and modify materials and implementation plans based on their unique classroom goals and environments. To understand how individual teachers use, conceptualize, and reflect upon the MBt unit and its implementation, we conducted three case studies, including classroom observations and teacher interviews. Findings include many similarities among teachers including adaptation of activities to classroom norms and practices, high value placed on quality curricular resources and support, advantage of the game to provide experiences that are normally out of reach for students, and concerns about effective use of time. Unique features of different teachers revealed implications for design and professional development for game-based curricula. For example, the study revealed that teachers need support to integrate and make explicit connections between the game and supporting curriculum materials.


Klisch, Yvonne; Miller, Leslie M.; Wang, Shu; Epstein, Joel (2012).  The Impact of a Science Education Game on Students' Learning and Perception of Inhalants as Body Pollutants.  Journal of Science Education and Technology, v21 n2 p295-303 Apr 2012

This study investigated the knowledge gains and attitude shifts attributable to a unique online science education game, "Uncommon Scents." The game was developed to teach middle school students about the biological consequences of exposure to toxic chemicals in an environmental science context, as well as the risks associated with abusing these chemicals as inhalants. Middle school students (n = 444) grades six through eight participated in the study consisting of a pre-test, three game-play sessions, and a delayed post-test. After playing the game, students demonstrated significant gains in science content knowledge, with game usability ratings emerging as the strongest predictor of post-test content knowledge scores. The intervention also resulted in a shift to more negative attitudes toward inhalants, with the most negative shift occurring among eighth grade students and post-test knowledge gains as the strongest predictor of attitude change across all grade levels. These findings suggest that the environmental science approach used in "Uncommon Scents" is an efficacious strategy for delivering both basic science content and influencing perceived harm relating to the inhalation of toxic chemicals from common household products.


Klisch, Yvonne; Miller, Leslie M.; Beier, Margaret E.; Wang, Shu. (2012). Teaching the Biological Consequences of Alcohol Abuse through an Online Game: Impacts among Secondary Students. CBE - Life Sciences Education, v11 n1 p94-102 Mar 2012

A multimedia game was designed to serve as a dual-purpose intervention that aligned with National Science Content Standards, while also conveying knowledge about the consequences of alcohol consumption for a secondary school audience. A tertiary goal was to positively impact adolescents' attitudes toward science through career role-play experiences within the game. In a pretest/delayed posttest design, middle and high school students, both male and female, demonstrated significant gains on measures of content knowledge and attitudes toward science. The best predictors of these outcomes were the players' ratings of the game's usability and satisfaction with the game. The outcomes suggest that game interventions can successfully teach standards-based science content, target age-appropriate health messages, and impact students' attitudes toward science.


Korina Katsaliaki and Navonil Mustafee (2012). A survey of serious games on sustainable development, Proceedings of Winter Simulation Conference

The continuing depletion of natural resources has become a major focus for the society at large. There is an increasing recognition of the need to sustain an ecologically-balanced environment, while, at the same time, exploring and exploiting the natural resources to satisfy the ever-increasing demands of the human race. A profound solution to this is the adoption of sustainable development practices. Increasing the awareness towards a more sustainable future is thus critical, and one way to achieve this is through the use of decision games called “serious games”. Serious games are gaining in popularity as tools that add entertainment to teaching and training. In this paper we undertake a review of serious games on sustainable development with a view to facilitate the understanding of the issues around sustainability, to identify opportunities towards improving the feature-set of these games, and for enhancing knowledge around sustainable development strategies.


Lange, E Hehl-Lange, S (2010). Making visions visible for long-term landscape management. Futures, 42(7), 693-699

Results generated by planning and futures studies are often too abstract to provide a clear vision of the future to non-specialists. In this study the role of 3D visualization and the challenges in developing and communicating visible visions for our future landscapes is explored. While traditional visualization techniques have been well-known for several hundreds of years digital 3D visualizations are still not yet taken advantage of in long-term planning or in futures studies in general to their full potential. As part of an iterative consultation and participation process a long-term vision for the landscape and land management of the Alport Valley in the Peak District National Park, UK is developed in order to improve the valley's special landscape character, to enhance the valley's visual and recreational attractiveness, to regenerate the woodlands in ways that maximize the long-term benefit of ecology, wildlife and landscape and to get a good balance between wooded areas and open moorland.


Lawson G. (2003). Ecological Landscape Planning: a gaming approach in education.  Landscape Research, Volume 28, Number 2, APRIL 2003, pp. 217-223(7)

An understanding of the complex problems of land-use competition requires an appreciation of natural processes, cultural values, economic imperatives and political agendas. This integrated understanding is an important component of the study programme for higher education students seeking a professional qualification in landscape architecture. A repertoire of game templates is introduced as an initial step in formulating a conceptual framework for the curriculum/games designer to explore the potential of play in ecological landscape planning. The concepts of social action space, permissible action space and motivational action space are used to investigate the qualities of each template for further game design development. The abstraction of these concepts may assist the designer to move beyond the usability of games into viewing their value as a learning method.


McIntyre B.S. (2003). The Landscape Game: A learning tool demonstrating landscape design principles.  Ecological Management & Restoration, Volume 4, Number 2, August 2003, pp. 103-109(7).

Summary A board game was developed for use in workshops to demonstrate some theoretical principles underpinning conservation planning at the landscape scale. The game is based on neutral landscape models and demonstrates the effects of habitat removal and arrangement on landscape connectivity for organisms with different mobility characteristics. This paper briefly describes the ecological principles underpinning the game, the equipment required to run a game session, and the rules of the game. The game was piloted in three workshops where it was played by a total of 75 people, primarily extension personnel. It proved to be an effective learning tool that was adopted by a number of the participants for their own communication activities.


Michelin, M. (2006). Can a Game Put Engineering Students in an Active Learning Mode? A First Experiment In Sustainable Agriculture Teaching. In Advances in Computer, Information, and Systems Sciences, and Engineering, Edited by K. Elleithy et al., 343-350. Springer.

An experiment using educational games has been conducted in France with first year engineering students to develop their understanding of what sustainable farming is. We have devised a game that models the impact of grazing practices on landscape dynamics and compared a board version and a virtual one. The game appears to be more efficient in developing the desire to learn more and stimulating players’ imagination than in teaching precise scientific knowledge. The game does not take the place of the classical courses. It introduces them. Finally, there is not any competition between the board game and the computerized one ; the board game is more relevant to start the educational process, the second allows more possibilities to experiment different ways of management.


Miyuki Shiraishi, Yasuyuki Washio, Chihiro Takayama, Vili Lehdonvirta, Hiroaki Kimura and Tatsuo Nakajima (2009). Using Individual, Social and Economic Persuasion Techniques to Reduce CO2 Emissions in a Family Setting, Proceedings of the 4th International Conference on Persuasive Technology.

This paper presents EcoIsland, which is a system persuading individuals and families to change their lifestyle patterns to reduce CO2 emissions. EcoIsland visualizes the user’s current eco-friendly behavior as an island shared by his/her family members. Several persuasive techniques developed in behaviorism, social psychology, and economy are used to offer incentives to him/her to encourage eco-friendly behavior. We examine and compare the implementation and effectiveness of different types of persuasive techniques in several user studies.


Nelson, B.C. (2007). Exploring the use of individualized reflective guidance in an educational multiuser virtual environment. Journal of Science Education and Technology, 16, 83–97.

This study examines the patterns of use and potential impact of individualized, reflective guidance in an educational Multi-User Virtual Environment (MUVE). A guidance system embedded within a MUVE-based scientific inquiry curriculum was implemented with a sample of middle school students in an exploratory study investigating (a) whether access to the guidance system was associated with improved learning, (b) whether students viewing more guidance messages saw greater improvement on content tests than those viewing less, and (c) whether there were any differences in guidance use among boys and girls. Initial experimental findings showed that basic access to individualized guidance used with a MUVE had no measurable impact on learning. However, post-hoc exploratory analyses indicated that increased use of the system among those with access to it was positively associated with content test score gains. In addition, differences were found in overall learning outcomes by gender and in patterns of guidance use by boys and girls, with girls outperforming boys across a spectrum of guidance system use. Based on these exploratory findings, the paper suggests design guidelines for the development of guidance systems embedded in MUVEs and outlines directions for further research.


Noble, James C and Walker, Paul (2006). Integrated shrub management in semi-arid woodlands of eastern Australia: A systems-based decision support model. Agricultural Systems, 88. 

What is causing the increasing densities of native shrubs, or so-called ‘woody weeds’, in some semi-arid pastoral lands and how might they be most effectively managed? This question has been on the rangeland policy agenda in Australia for more than one hundred years. This paper describes a fresh examination of this question using a systems approach. A key component of the approach involved ‘mapping the problem’. Using a systems-based approach, landholders developed four system diagrams broadly describing the ecology of woody weed re-occurrence, control options, property economics and management constraints with diagrams identifying how different factors related to, or influenced, each other. Agency personnel also constructed a system diagram describing institutional and regulatory constraints, and their interactions. Later, all these system diagrams formed the basis for an adaptive management model with capabilities for developing and quantitatively evaluating alternative management strategies relating to woody weeds. This model is called the Woody Weed Planner. The Woody Weed Planner contains mathematical relationships developed through field experimentation over the last 25–50 years covering the ecology of woody weeds, control options and control economics. These relationships enable the user to generate mathematical responses as a result of changing model parameters. A key component of the model is the ability to simulate the effects of alternative management responses given different rainfall scenarios. To enable this to occur, the Planner allows the user to replay historical rainfall patterns and ask the question “what impact will these have on woody weeds, stocking rates and economic performance on my property?”


Boskic, N., T. Dobson, and Rusnak, P.  (2008). Playing it Seriously: Juxtaposing AR and RW Crises. In Proceedings of the 2nd European Conference on Games Based Learning, Barcelona, Spain, October 2008.

Recently, “serious games,” especially those promoting sociopolitical change, have garnered increased attention. A number of projects and special interest groups that facilitate the development and study of these games have emerged (e.g., Social Impact Games, the Serious Games Initiative, the Alternate Gaming Network, and the Games for Change Conference). Of the recent serious games projects, World Without Oil (WWO), “the alternate reality game with a heart of gold” (ARGNet, 2008), has received much attention, attaining, among other accolades, a SXSW (South by Southwest) Web Award for activism. The game has been promoted by Ken Eklund (Creative Director) and Jane McGonigal (Participation Architect) as a storied place in which players might imagine the impact of a future oil crisis with a view to making real-world change. In describing the game, promoters and players move back and forth between the inherent rhetorical extremes of serious gaming: the game is about crisis, but it is also “fun.” This paper will examine the tension between these modes of experience by juxtaposing players’ narratives and imaginings around the WWO simulation (as evidenced in the extant online WWO digital artifacts) with the reality of the oil crisis as experienced by the first author in war-torn Serbia in the early 1990s, when power and oil shortages were a reality that challenged people’s ability to attain the basic necessities of living for themselves and their children on a daily basis. Since games are generally designed, developed, and played by those who have money and access, the question is whether they truly have the potential to move beyond a purely literary exercise. As Fulford (1999) observes, “Narrative gives us a way to feel empathy for others. But it can work in the other direction, too. Narrative can make us smug by persuading us that we understand more than we actually do” (p.152). While we regard games such as WWO as important spaces to examine social issues, we also wish to explore the paradox that is inherent in such games in order to attain a better understanding of their affordances for education.


Rusnak, P., T. Dobson, and N. Boskic. (2008). Articulation of Ecological Values in Alternate Reality Gaming: A Case Study of World Without Oil. In Proceedings of the 2nd European Conference on Games Based Learning, Barcelona, Spain, October 2008.

Jane McGonigal, Participation Architect of World Without Oil (WWO), observes that the power of alternate reality gaming is that players “have to change the way they live their lives. They're not simulating [the game] in a 3D immersive environment, they're simulating it in their own lives.” She observes that the result is that players of these games don’t just think about change, they make change (McGonigal, 2007). Drawing on this understanding, this paper will contemplate the following questions: How do we learn ecological values by gaming? Do ARG environments really have the transformative power to modify human behaviour and thereby improve real-world ecological problems?WWO is a unique alternate reality game (ARG) in which Web 2.0 technologies are brought to bear on issues of sustainability and responsible citizenship. WWO is of particular interest from a research perspective because the game offers a unique player-created environment that documents the players’ collective quest to comprehend and respond to a simulated crisis. Players were immersed in a complex moral dilemma that required reflective thinking and community effort, resulting in many players taking real-world initiative while playing the game.The purpose of this research is to examine how WWO players interpret and learn ecological values within the context of the ARG form. Data was gathered from the thousands of digital artifacts tagged WWO and analyzed for features of response categorized by: evidence of learning, agency, community practices and response genre. Preliminary findings demonstrate a complex array of forms of player engagement and degrees of “seriousness” of play that might lead to real-world change.Games like WWO are important cultural spaces that encourage players to think reflectively and learn about environmental ethics, to experiment ideologically, and to turn imaginative ideas into real-world values and ethically conscious actions. This paper aims to expand our understanding of how players engage ARG spaces with a view to contemplating the affordances of such games for sustainability and environmental education.


Sevcik, Richard S.; McGinty, Ragan L.; Schultz, Linda D.; Alexander, Susan V. (2008). Periodic Table Target: A Game that Introduces the Biological Significance of Chemical Element Periodicity. Journal of Chemical Education, v85 n4 p516-517 Apr 2008

Periodic Table Target, a game for middle school or high school students, familiarizes students with the form of the periodic table and the biological significance of different elements. The Periodic Table Target game board is constructed as a class project, and the game is played to reinforce the content. Students are assigned several elements that they must classify by biological activity (as opposed to more traditional family names); they record their findings and those of the class on a blank data chart. Students then label appropriately colored felt squares, glue them onto the correct position on a previously prepared outline of the periodic table, and play the game. Students may also color paper periodic tables as a class exercise for their own future reference. The project allows students to observe correlations between chemistry and biology and serves as a reference for later, more conventional study of periodic properties of the elements and their placement on the periodic table.


Shivshankar, P. G., and V. Thirumavalavan. (2009). Green City - A Cognitive Game. In Proceedings of the 14th International Conference on Computer Aided Architectural Design Research in Asia, Yunlin, Taiwan, 2125-134.

The project is about simulation of a sustainable urban scenario, which is developed as a game, that would also serve as a pedagogical tool for sustainability in urban context. The interface is a simulation based city-building game, where the player acts as a townplanner focuses on building a bigger city, while the game design aims at developing it, as a sustainable urban model. This is achieved by encoding sustainable urban development concepts with the sequence of simulation (development) process, through which the game operates sensitively towards sustainability.


Short, Daniel. (2012). Teaching Scientific Concepts Using a Virtual World—Minecraft. Teaching Science, v58 n3 p55-58 Sep 2012

Minecraft is a multiplayer sandbox video game based in a virtual world modelled on the real world. Players are able to build and craft everyday items using blocks. The cubic geometry of Minecraft lends itself to the teaching of various academic subjects. Minecraft also has a functioning ecology, with chemistry and physics aspects interwoven within the game that can be used to develop the scientific literacy of players. Here I describe various key scientific and mathematical concepts that are able to be modelled with the game for use in the classroom.


Spiegel, Carolina N. Alves, Gutemberg G. Cardona, Tânia da S. Melim, Leandra M. C. Luz, Mauricio R. M. P. Araújo-Jorge, Tania C. Henriques-Pons, Andrea (2008). Discovering the cell: an educational game about cell and molecular biology.  Journal of Biological Education (Society of Biology). Winter2008, Vol. 43 Issue 1, p27-35. 

The role of games within education becomes clearer as students become more active and are able to take decisions, solve problems and react to the results of those decisions. The educational board game Discovering the Cell (Célula Adentro), is based on problem-solving learning. This investigative game attempts to stimulate reasoning and interactivity in the classroom as it challenges students to collect, discuss and interpret clues in order to decipher a scientific question (Case). Here, we describe the conception, development and evaluation of Discovering the Cell. The game was tested with students from public and private high schools in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. A questionnaire-based analysis demonstrated how students had adopted this strategy. The majority, from both public and private schools, were able to solve a Case, as well as apply the learned content when answering a related question. Taken together, our results indicate the suitability of the game as an alternative strategy to help teach complex cell and molecular biology themes to secondary-level students


Torres, M. and J. Macedo. (2000). Learning Sustainable Development with a New Simulation Game."Simulation & Gaming 31(1): 119-126.

 This new simulation game, the authors’ first, has been created to introduce discipline-related concepts to a wider audience. The authors set out to create a game that would reduce an abstract concept to its basic components and present it within a frame, with the intent to capitalize on the benefits of gaming and simulation. The result of this creative effort is a card game called LEARNING SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT (LSD). This game is intended to create awareness to and explore attitudes toward environmental conservation and urban development. The concept of sustainable development has been chosen as the focus of the game, not only because it is one of the basic precepts of the authors’ milieu but also because it presents a challenge in that it prompts players to reevaluate and potentially change their attitudes and behavior concerning routine practices. LSD has gone through extensive testing, revisions, and changes. Through this experience, the authors have concluded that simulation games can be used by practitioners and researchers to promote awareness to a novel concept in a particular field.


Tragazikis, P. and M. Meimaris. (2009). Engaging Kids with the Concept of Sustainability Using a Commercial Video Game–A Case Study. In Transactions on Edutainment III, Edited by Z. Pan et al., 1-12. Springer-Verlag.

This paper focuses on the use of a commercial game, [COTS (Commercial off-the-shelf games for learning)], as a main motivating and educational tool, to make kids of 11 years old aware of the relationship, between every day actions and activities with emissions. It also intends to prove that, with the use of the game, a satisfactory level of modified behaviour towards the concept of sustainability is achieved by changing attitudes and taking actions. Furthermore, it intends to introduce a method, which is related to the efficient implementation of COTS, in primary school, educational projects.


Villalta, M., Gajardo, I., Nussbaum, M., Andreu, J. J. Echeverría, A., and Plass, J. L. (2011). Design guidelines for Classroom Multiplayer Presential Games (CMPG). Computers and Education 57, 2039 – 2053. VERY RELEVANT           

In a Classroom Multiplayer Presential Game (CMPG) peers interact collaboratively with the virtual world and amongst themselves in a shared space. The design of this kind of game, however, is a complex process that must consider instruction strategies, methodology, usability and ludic aspects. This article’s aim is to develop and systematize guidelines for the design of CMPGs. To develop these guidelines we used a three-step process: evaluating an initial implementation of a CMPG and finding its problems; defining guidelines that can help overcome these problems; and redesigning the game based on the guidelines before testing it in a real class scenario to assess how helpful the guidelines were in solving the initial problems. From the initial evaluation of the game, we developed a series of guidelines to overcome the existing problems that can be classified into six categories: On-screen information, Game mechanics, Game progression, Methodology, Collaboration, and Holism. After redesigning the game with these guidelines we performed a field study to see the behavior of the new CMPG, where we measured how well the guidelines were applied in the game-play and the effectiveness in regard to the learning level reached by the students. Our results indicate that the guidelines are a valuable tool in the design of CMPGs that foster learning, which was shown both in the results of the observations and in the significant increase in learning. Although the design guidelines can be seen as general principles, we conclude that they have to e considered differently for different games, and that even during a specific game the importance of each guideline may vary throughout the different quests.


Wrzesien, Maja  Alcañiz Raya, Mariano. (2010). Learning in serious virtual worlds: Evaluation of learning effectiveness and appeal to students in the E-Junior project. Computers & Education, 55(1), 178-187 

The objective of this study is to present and to evaluate the E-Junior application: a serious virtual world (SVW) for teaching children natural science and ecology. E-Junior was designed according to pedagogical theories and curricular objectives to help children learn about the Mediterranean Sea and its environmental issues while playing. In this study, we present data about the E-Junior evaluation. A class in a serious virtual world (virtual group) was compared with a traditional type of class (traditional group) that contained identical learning objectives and contents but lacked a gaming aspect. Data collection consisted of quantitative and qualitative measures on a sample of 48 children. With regards to learning effectiveness, the results showed that the serious virtual world does not present statistically significant differences with the traditional type of class. However, students from the virtual group reported enjoying the class more, being more engaged, and having greater intentions to participate than students from the traditional group. The plausible explanation for this can be found in the qualitative data. The implications of these results and improvement proposals are also discussed in this work.


Yongyuth, P., Prada, R., Nakasone, A., Kawtrakul, A., Prendinger, H. (2010). AgriVillage: 3D Multi-Language Internet Game for Fostering Agriculture Environmental Awareness. Proceeding of the International Conference on Management of Emergent Digital Ecosystems, NY, ACM, 145-152

Agriculture has a strong impact in the environment; it has played key role in the development of food security and food safety. In this paper, we are proposing a 3D multilingual Internet game, developed by using the on-line virtual world platform, that lets the player experience the potential effects of agriculture in the environment. The main idea is to foster awareness of agriculture's environmental issues, by not only making the player learn the impact of fertilizers and deforestation that affect the sources of water and weather, respectively, but also enhance the importance of food quality. To make players care for these issues, the game creates a direct impact by using the happiness of people that is represent by the villagers. To reduce the language barrier when sharing knowledge across the countries is needed, the game also supports multi-language to make it more understandable to the player. This paper describes details of the game design, the system architecture and the experiment. The experiment conducted with the game showed promising results.


List of Games



Learning Sustainable Development (LSD) Torres and Macedo (2006)



Balance of the Planet



AtollGame Dray et al. (2005)

MHP Guizol and Purnomo (2005)



SHRUB BATTLE Michelin (2006)

3rd World Farmer

Climate Challenge



Stop Disasters!





World Without Oil: Rusnak, Dobson, and Boskic (2008);

Environment Game

Building Game


The Great Green Web



Catchment Detox

Millennium Village





THE SIMS adapted: Tragazikis and Meimaris (2009)

Shortfall: Isaacs et al. (2009);

Green City: Shivshankar and Thirumavalavan (2009)

Power explorer: Gustafsson, Bång, and Svahn (2009)





Fate of the World: Tipping






SOS 21: Cahier et al. (2011);

EnergyLife: Gamberini et al. (2011)




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