Narrative and Aesthetics in Serious Games

Narrative and aesthetics as antecedents of perceived learning in Serious Games

Alexiou A., Schippers M., Oshri M. and Angelopoulos S.

This study uses a critically acclaimed digital game as an instructional tool to explore the role of emotional design elements on psychological flow, and perceived learning. We employ transportation theory to generate a set of antecedents of psychological flow, and the theory of flow to connect the gaming experience to positive learning outcomes. We investigate the subjective learning experience of players with the use of a psychometric survey, and we employ structural equation modelling to unearth the direct as well as the indirect effects among narrative, aesthetics, flow, and learning outcomes. The findings of our study demonstrate that narrative and aesthetics in serious games positively influence the perceived learning by facilitating a state of psychological flow. This study contributes to better understanding and theorizing the role of narrative and aesthetics on learning outcomes in the context of serious games. The findings of our study bear valuable implications for the design of serious games, as they highlight the importance of elements often disregarded as not directly related to the learning process and are typically absent from the design of serious games. Prior studies have identified aesthetics and narrative as design elements that contribute to the perceived enjoyment of a game; this study empirically investigates the role of narratives and aesthetics in enhancing perceived learning through psychological flow.

Suggested citation: Alexiou, A., Schippers, M., Oshri, I. and Angelopoulos, S. (2021). “Narrative and Aesthetics as Antecedents of Perceived Learning in Serious Games“, Information Technology & People, forthcoming.