Table 1

Design elements in serious games to be assessed

AvatarsThe learner chooses or creates a graphical representation of himself in the serious game.
Badges for achievementA visual representation that serves as a symbol for the learner’s achievements
Content unlockingAccess to new aspects of the serious game (eg, higher levels) when certain tasks have been accomplished
Difficulty adaptationLevels of difficulty of the challenges can be adjusted by the learner (eg, easy, medium and hard) or automatically adjusted to the learner’s performance.
HintsA suggestion or an indication given by the serious game to help the learner achieve a challenge. A learner may choose to receive a hint or the serious game can give hints based on his performance.
LeaderboardA table or a graph that ranks the learners according to their success based on specific criteria
Performance tables or graphsA table or a graph that provides information to the learner about the progression of his performance over time
PlotA narrative discourse that serves to organise the events of a story in a logical or temporal order
PointsPoints are awarded or subtracted depending on the learner’s performance and serve to numerically represent the progression. Points can therefore serve as a reward and as an immediate feedback tool.
TeamsLearners who work together to achieve a common goal. Teams will be broadly regarded here to encompass either cooperative or versus playing.
Time pressureA time limit that is allowed for the learner to achieve a specific challenge. A time limit can be illustrated by a countdown timer that indicates to the learner the time remaining.
Virtual goodsGame assets that have a certain in-game value. Virtual goods can sometimes be bought or exchanged using real-world currency.