The Immersive Learning Simulations and Virtual Environment of the first video in this module:

is intended for elementary school children. It is a virtual field trip with interactive elements, sound and glowing ‘sprites’. The pedagogical approach that is being used is constructivist approach whereby students have the freedom to move around, to foster their curiousity, to interact and be immersed in a game like environment such as a treasure hunt.

Course notes: I must admit I am confused with the opening sentence of this module – “For those educators interested in learning and teaching with games, the need to establish whether or not a game has all the necessary internal materials and pedagogical affordances becomes more offset.” I am not sure what is meant by offset? I acknowledge that “it is also bounded by the idea that games have the potential to tap into any intrinsic motivations to learning through play“.

So, to continue:

Instrincally integrated games – see Habgood & Ainsworth (2011, p.173) – 2 central components:

  1. Deliver learning material through  parts of the game that are most fun to play, riding on the back of the flow experience produced by the game;
  2. learning material embodied within  structure of the gaming world and the player’s interactions with it, providing an external representation of the learning content that is explored through the core mechanics of the gameplay.

Students need to have a clear connection between the game and the learning outcome. Teachers  know that  any cohort of learners will have different motivations, attitudes and beliefs about the “know how” and “know what” contained in learning activities – and this will impact on the types of games in an educator’s toolkit.


Although digital games may be capable of providing activities which are intrinsically motivating in their own right, it is critical to consider the effect of adding learning content to an intrinsically motivating game. Game designers have come to recognize the role of learning in good game design. This is not about commercial games containing educational content, but how the enjoyment of games derives from the process of learning itself.

Text Notes from Hapgood & Ainsworth (2013).

Opening sentence: The concept of intrinsic motivation lies at the heart of the user engagement created
by digital games.

  • learning games effectively harness intrinsic motivation(Deci, 1975) of a game for educational goals by creating an intrinsic integration (Kafai, 1996) between a game and its learning content….integration is created through an intrinsic link between a game’s score mechanics (Lundgren & Björk, 2003) and its learning content (p.170)
  • internal motivations created by including challenge, control, fantasy, and curiosity, whereas interpersonal motivations can be added through factors such as competition, cooperation, and recognition (Malone& Lepper, 1987).
  • The inclusion of challenge in this taxonomy is derived from the work of Csikszentmihalyi (1988) into flow theory and optimal experience. This proposes that clear goals, achievable challenges, and accurate feedback are all required to achieve a state of flow in an activity that requires “a balance between the challenges perceived in a given situation and the skills a person brings to it,”suggesting that “no activity can sustain it for long unless both the challenges and the skills become more complex” (Csikszentmihalyi, 1988, p. 30). (p.171).
  • intrinsic integration i.e. way “a designer integrates the subject matter with the game idea” (Kafai, 1996, p. 82) (p.173).
  • advantage of intrinsic integration:
    • potential to more effectively motivate and engage the player in the learning content of a game (e.g., Garris, Ahlers, & Driskell, 2002; Rieber, 1991).
    • flow often considered critical in creating and maintaining motivational appeal.
    • Integrating learning content into very parts of the gameplay that give rise to the flow experience should ensure that the benefits of the flow are directed toward educational goals.
  • Conversely, edutainment or extrinsic games that provide gameplay as a reward for learning content are more likely to disrupt flow if players are asked to regularly switch to another non-flow-inducing activity
  • Mechanisms include persistence, more focused attention, increased arousal, increased affect, and alternative strategies(p.174)
  • Another central benefit of intrinsic integration comes from embodying the learning content (the tasks learners must address, the actions they perform to do so, and the feedback they receive as a consequence) within the core representational structure of a gaming world. (p.174-175)
  • concerns about transfer:
  1.  intrinsic integration typically involves concrete representations rather than abstract ones. Some existing research suggests children (in particular) can find it difficult to transfer their understanding from concrete representations to alternative representations
  2. intrinsically integrating learning content within frantic action-based games could make it harder to learn the educational content, as the learner must cope with two forms of competing demands simultaneously (the educational and game play elements). (p.175)
  • argues that it is core mechanics—rather than fantasy—that is critical to creating an intrinsic relationship with the learning content of a game. (p.202)
  • The results of these studies provide a strong argument in favor of the intrinsic integration of a game with its learning content (Kafai, 1996; Malone, 1980; Rieber, 1996) in contrast to extrinsic environments, which provide a separate extrinsic motivation or reward for completing learning content. (p. 194)

Personal reflection: Discussion Forum: Intrinsic integration of learning in games

After reading Hapgood & Ainsworth (2013), and building on your further reading, how do you think the everyday experience of learning in your professional context could draw upon the the effectiveness of intrinsic integration of game play?

Watching this video about formative assessment in game based learning (GBL) in Module 6 offered me the connection to this particular reflection on  drawing upon the effectiveness of intrinsic integration of game play. The video did not involve digital games, yet epitomized a lot of the intrinsic elements of game play and showed learning happening ‘in the flow’. How do we incorporate all these elements into our teaching practice!

  • collaborative and social (with lots of conversation happening) – between and across teams – emotional, curiosity, affective, cooperation
  • cards and fantasy –
  • engagement,  focus, total concentration
  • critical thinking skills and problem solving skills evoked – perceived challenges and perceived skill level
  • interactive, hands on activity
  • explicit assessment – with rubric ie. clear set of goals 
  • informal ongoing assessment – by teacher questioning students show understanding and transference of key concepts (from card to island map) – clear and immediate feedback, recognition
  • time element


Habgood, M. P. J., & Ainsworth, S. E. (2011). Motivating children to learn effectively: Exploring the value of intrinsic integration in educational games. Journal of the Learning Sciences, 20(2), 169–206.