Serious Games

Objectives and competences

The aim of the course is to equipe students with in-depth knowledge and understanding of the field of digital games and serious games, empowering them for critical assessment and appropriate use of serious games for obtaining specified learning outcomes in open education.

Students will acquire the following competences:

• Awareness and understanding of the use of learning games in education and training;
• Awareness of specific requirements regarding target markets, platforms, cultural issues and ethics.
• Ability to critically asses, select and create educational games adapted to the requirements of open education;
• Ability to select existing educational games that best suitlearning scenarios in academic, business or other formal or non-formal educational environments.


Students should have the basic understanding of the concepts, strategies and didactical models of open education. They should be able to use computer supported tools for content generation and design and communication and collaboration tools, and should be prepared to work in interdisciplinary teams.


• Basics of the Digital and Serious Games and how they can be applied within OE design.
• Theoretical context, models and methods of game-based learning.
• How to critically review games for learning based on experience with game-based learning.
• Assessing and validating serious games with respect to the defined learning goals.
• Innovative approaches and best practices in serious games.
• Concepts of learning with serious games, cooperative and collaborative learning, per-sonalised learning; motivational aspects, learning of competences and skills.
• Matching proper serious games to learning goals as well as individual, group and or-ganisational learning strategies.

The following topics will be explored in more detail:
1) Game Concepts and Terminology
2) Learning Models within Game Mechanics
3) Target Markets and Applications for Games for Learning
4) Rhetoric and Ethics of using Persuasive Games
5) Platforms and Tools for Design Serious Games
6) Design and Development process of Digital Games
7) Designing a Game to fit within an Open Education Curriculum
8) Critical assessment of Serious Games

Intended learning outcomes

After competing this course, students will:

• Understand the theoretical bases along with features, terminology, and taxonomy of digital games;

• Be able to critically evaluate a range of games through direct experience;

• Be able to evaluate and critically review the relation between games, play and learning in formal and non-formal learning settings;

• Be able to design original approaches for using the potential of game-based learning in their own practice.


  • Dörner,R. Göbel,S. Effelsberg,W. & Wiemeyer, J. (2016) Serious Games: Foundations, Concepts and Practice. Springer International Publishing Switzerland. ISBN 978-3-319-40611-4.
  • Iuppa, N & Borst, T (2006) Story and Simulations for Serious Games: Tales from the Trenches, Focal Press E-version
  • Juul, J. (2013). The art of failure : an essay on the pain of playing video games. Cambridge, Mass., MIT Press. E-version
  • Michael, D & Chen, S. (2006). Serious Games: Games That Educate, Train, and Inform. Thompson Course Technology. E-version
  • Oates E. (2016) Learning and Designing with Serious Games: Crowdsourcing for Procurement. In: De Gloria A., Veltkamp R. (eds) Games and Learning Alliance. GALA 2015. Lecture Notes in Computer Science, vol 9599. Springer, Cham.
  • Pivec, M. & Gründler, J. (Eds.) Proceedings of the 11th European Conference on Games Based Learning. ACPI: Reading, UK, 2017
  • Ritterfeld, U., Cody, M., and Vorderer, P. Serious Games: Mechanisms and Effects. Routledge, London, 2009.
  • Schell, J. (2014) The Art of Game Design: A Book of Lenses, Second Edition. CRC Press, Taylor & Francis Group. E-version
  • Whitton, N. (2010). Learning with digital games : a practical guide to engaging students in higher education. London, Routledge. E-version


• Interim presentations, practical work; peer- and self-evaluation. • Submitted project work: application of theoretical and practical knowledge

Lecturer's references

Maja Pivec is associate professor of Applied Game Design and Gamification at the FH JO-ANNEUM University of Applied Sciences in Graz, Austria. Although her recent projects have fo-cused on e-learning and Game-Based learning, during 1993 through 2004, Maja Pivec received numerous international grants and awards for research in the field of innovative computer-based learning approaches and knowledge based systems. In the year 2001 she received Hertha Firn-berg Award (Austria) in the field of computer science. In 2003 she was awarded by European Sci-ence Foundation in form of a grant for her interdisciplinary work in the field of affective and emotional aspects of human-computer interaction and game-based learning. Since 2013 Maja Pivec is also teaching at Master of Science of European Project and Public Management, Graz, Austria, that is offered in cooperation of IBSA Graz and FH JOANNEUM. Since 2015 she is guest professor at UPV (Universidad Politécnica de Valencia, Departamento de Dibujo) on the master programm Master en Animación, Valencia, Spain. She is author and co-author of several book publications on GBL and technology enhanced learning. She is key-note speaker, conference host, program committee member and speaker at numerous international conferences. She was the host of 3rd and 11th European Conference on Game-Based Learning in 2009, and in 2017, for what she received Graz Congress Award in 2018. Her research work is published and presented at more than 100 international conferences and publications.