Resource 1: Glossary

Download the Glossary as a PDF.

360-degree video: an immersive video where the player is presented with a panoramic view of a location, mimicking the experience of being physically present in that location.

Academic content: subject-specific material that is based on a given curriculum.

Accessible: ensuring the player is provided with sufficient means to interact with the game, e.g., providing visual cues for players with hearing impairments or auditory cues or high contrast for those with visual impairments.

Actions: the things the player does during gameplay.

Background characteristics: characteristics, such as gender, appearance, occupation, age, etc., as well as any strengths, weaknesses, dreams and achievements the characters may have.

Backstory: the background story of the game. This can be communicated using text, video or audio, through dialog with cut scenes, interactions with objects in the world, etc. It can be provided at the beginning or throughout the game.

Curriculum: the planned academic content to be taught in a course of study.

Characters: actors in the game. The main character is the character controlled by the player and the secondary characters are those encountered in the game.

Emotions: the feelings and sensations evoked in the player during gameplay, e.g., a sense of achievement, control, power, weakness, adventure, etc.

Feedback: the information that tells the player how they are doing in the game. It can be communicated either after the player performs an action or at particular intervals in the game (e.g., telling the player how to perform actions or displaying their status levels, giving hints, etc.).

Game controls: any devices used to perform an action or navigate within a digital game, e.g., mouse, keyboard or joystick (simple or with haptic feedback). In mobile devices, game control activities are performed by touch.

Game’s world: the real or fictional setting where the game takes place, i.e., location (indoors, outdoors, on earth, in space, etc.). Games typically have multiple settings.

Gameplay data: any information about the player’s behavior that is collected during play.

Goal: the ultimate aim or objective of the game.

Interact: verbal or non-verbal communication with characters and objects such as tools, doors, vehicles, etc.

Knowledge: understanding and learning of content (e.g., facts, concepts, information).

Learning challenge: typical difficulties encountered by the learner during the learning process.

Learning outcomes: statements that describe what a learner should know or be able to do within a defined learning context. Please see the handout on Bloom’s Taxonomy of Learning for a list of action verbs and activities that can help to formulate learning outcomes.

Levels: particular sections in the game and include predefined tasks that the player should complete in order to progress through the game.

Mini-maps: visual cues that are provided to the player to show their location within the game’s world.

Motivates: strategies built into the game to engage the player. For example, the difficulty may be adjusted as the game progresses, the player may be provided with powers or power ups, etc.

Player: the game’s participant (or a target audience). For example, in serious games, this could be a group of high school, undergraduate, postgraduate or continuing education students.

Plot: the defined narrative of the game, e.g., the events unfolding in the game that lead to the game’s goal. There are usually a main plot and subplots within a game.

Progress reports: data that the game generates to let the player know how they are doing.

Senses: the five senses and the associated emotional reactions that are evoked in the player. For example, when considering the senses in the storytelling, is there any background sound specific to this world? What is the weather and temperature? How does the air smell?

Skills: the player’s ability to do something well.

Story: refers to the narrative of events in the game. There could be one or multiple stories in the game. The actions and choices of the player can lead to different stories. The way stories unfold could be communicated through a narrative at the beginning, segments across game levels, or after a specific task or milestone has been achieved.

Teaching approaches: the specific pedagogical strategies included in the game, e.g., problem-based and experiential learning.

Type of game: a predefined category that best matches the game, e.g., a fantasy game, a shooter game, a puzzle, etc.

Type of world: the historical and social contexts of the game’s world, e.g., a prehistoric world, an underwater kingdom, a fantasy world, etc.


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The Art of Serious Game Design Copyright © by Digital Education Strategies, The Chang School of Continuing Education, Ryerson University is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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