Educational Science

Scientific reports

 Our scientific reports are theoretically sound and read similarly to scientific journal articles. Short references for sources are used in the text, the full list of sources is always at the end of the report.

Each report consists of a brief summary of the game studied, the learning potential analysis, the risk potential analysis and suggested learning settings in class and/or the family. Finally, the game analysis includes analyses of the game community (e.g. Twitch streams, Youtube channels), if there are any, since games are no longer limited to their software in the sense of media convergence. Our analyses and the review of international publications resulted in the following eight categories of learning potential analyses, which are primarily examined from a developmental pedagogical and developmental psychological perspective. The danger potentials essentially refer to the same categories. The three common categories 'violence', 'multiplayer' and 'microtransactions' also find their way into the analyses, but in a more differentiated way than is the case in other pedagogical assessments. For example, according to Reemtsma (2009), we distinguish three forms of violence (lozenging, raptive and autotelic violence). Blank spaces in the research are filled triangulatively by our own research, so that the reports are also suitable as a basis for publications in professional journals.

In the scientific reports, there are only brief operationalisations of the learning potentials relevant to the respective game. A detailed operationalisation can be found here:

Knowledge increase

The increase in knowledge is limited to knowledge that relates to our reality. Knowledge about fictional worlds, fictional characters, fictional societies and the like is not considered. Knowledge about historical and contemporary information about our reality is analysed and assessed for accuracy, representation and completeness. This does not exclusively, but mostly, include the following topics:

  • All factual knowledge: Biographical and historical information about personalities, societies, civilisations, flora, fauna, events, places, religions, arts, buildings, technologies, cultural artefacts, theories and practices.
  • Topographical, geographic and climatic information about real and historical places
  • Political, ocenomic, ecological, theological, technological, sociological, natural science theories and bodies of knowledge
  • Knowledge of and about various social, technological, psychological, mechanical, media pedagogical and natural science skills
  • Meta-knowledge about digital games, narrative design, programming, modding, media competences

Strategic and analytical thinking

Strategic thinking refers to the ability to solve complex problems systematically. As a rule, analytical skills are required for this, since the problem to be solved must first be analysed in order to develop suitable problem-solving strategies. Analytical skills refer, for example, to logical, philosophical and mechanical puzzles that have to be solved, to the ability to analyse the opponent's game behaviour in order to derive meaningful strategies, and to the analysis of one's own performance in order to improve one's own performance. Strategic skills therefore refer to game situations in which decisions about game styles (e.g. aggressive, defensive, stealth, diplomatic) are made. This applies to cooperative and competitive strategies as well as to strategies in single-player games.

Creativity

For our analyses, we have operationalised the term 'creativity' relatively strictly as playful actions in which creative action takes place. Creative in this context means that new game elements are created automatically from game elements that are present in the game world by assembling, separating, manipulating or alienating them, i.e. they have their purpose in themselves and not in order to pursue another goal. This means that the selection of hairstyles of a character is not analysed by us as a creative act if only one is chosen from a prefabricated set of hairstyles. Operationalisation via autotelia allows us to categorise creative acts that arise from an overarching goal as strategic acts, for example in strategy games where certain units are used in unconventional or creative ways to defeat opponents.

Memory

According to the distinction between working, short-term and long-term memory, the focus is on the memory performance of players. We examine games in terms of how frequently and intensively the memory of players is used. This includes the memorisation of complex strategies as well as sensory memory (muscle memory). The aim of the analysis is to evaluate the potential of the respective games to promote memory performance, in particular:

  • Learning strategies
  • Memory strategies
  • Documentation strategies

Learning strategies are techniques that make it easier for players to systematically store all information relevant to the game in their memory. Memory strategies facilitate effortless recall of stored information. Documentation strategies can relieve the memory by clearly storing important information in analogue or digital form. The guiding idea is that players acquire competences for learning and information acquisition that can also be applied outside of games (e.g. at school).

Ability to concentrate

We also analyse the ability to concentrate in the context of frustration tolerance. In our analyses, we assess the extent to which games challenge players' ability to concentrate. We distinguish in which intervals and how intensively the players' concentration is demanded. This also involves characterising the cognitive response, i.e. whether and when players have to concentrate more or less in the course of the game, in order to predict stress-inducing situations if necessary. Furthermore, we investigate to what extent the game itself contains cognitive relief phases, i.e. concentration decreases and players can relax, e.g. between individual game rounds.

Communicative competences

In our research, communicative competences refer exclusively to interpersonal communication, i.e. written, spoken, gesticulated and other sign- and symbol-based forms of language. All communication with non-playable characters (NPCs), bots or AIs are not taken into account by us, as the focus is on potentials for communication promotion. In this respect, only games with multiplayer functions are considered for this learning potential analysis. In our analyses, we reconstruct how players communicate with each other. In gaming, as in all cultural milieus, there is a specific vocabulary that can be characterised by two particularities. Firstly, there are conspicuously many Anglicisms, since most games are played globally and therefore the standard language is English. Secondly, the gamer language is characterised by strong efficiency, because especially in multiplayer games very fast reaction speeds are required and therefore communication between players must be short, concise and unambiguous. In this respect, we can also speak of a rationalisation of communication, which is also the subject of our analyses.

Teaching values and norms

Digital games socialise through their content like books, magazines, radio, film, television and all other information-rich media. However, they differ from most other media in their interactivity, in the context of which players can sometimes also have immersive experiences. Like all media, digital games convey specific values and norms. In our analysis, we aim to reconstruct and name both explicit and implicit values and norms. These include, for example, but are not limited to:

  • Gender sensitivity
  • Glorification of violence
  • Interculturality
  • Capitalism
  • Cosmopolitanism
  • Morality
  • Nationalism
  • Pacifism
  • Political participation
  • Prosocial behaviour
  • Religion
  • Sexism
  • Tolerance
  • Environmental protection

The teaching of values and norms is mentioned at this point in the report and critically analysed with regard to its socialising effect. For example, in some role-playing games, conflicts between different cultures are explicitly addressed by learning about the background of the conflict. However, values and norms are also implicitly conveyed in games, for example, when women perform jobs that are considered typical "men's jobs" in our reality as a matter of course, without this ever being addressed as a special feature in the game. Values that are normatively considered negative, such as sexism, can also be conveyed through the media, which is also included in our analysis.

Motor skills

The focus here is on reaction speeds, fine and gross motor actions, especially with the hands, arms, head and upper body, and the extent to which games can provide opportunities for development. We investigate how demanding motor operations are for players when playing games. We also distinguish between casual gameplay and sporting activity, since basically every game can be played comfortably. At the latest for competitive play, players must be able to show fast reaction times and a high ApM (actions per minute) in order to play in a ranking. This usually requires time-consuming training, which presupposes a certain degree of discipline and motivation.

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