Taking educational games seriously: using the RETAIN model to design endogenous fantasy into standalone educational games

  • Glenda A. Gunter
  • Robert F. Kenny
  • Erik H. Vick
Development Article


We are witnessing a mad rush to pour educational content into games in an ad hoc manner in hopes that player/learners are motivated simply because the content is housed inside a game. A failure to base educational game design on well-established learning and instructional theories increases the risk of the game failing to meet its intended educational goals, and yielding students who are entertained but who have not acquired any academic skills or knowledge. Our review of standalone educational games has shown that they are not always based on sound educational principles and theories. We contend that, if academic learning is to take place, a new design paradigm must be developed. This article discusses the RETAIN design and evaluation model for educational games that was developed to aide in the evaluation of how well academic content is endogenously immersed and embedded within the game’s fantasy and story context, promoters transfer of knowledge, and encourages repetitive usage to that content becomes available for use in an automatic way.


Design formalism Educational rubric Game design Instructional strategies Instructional design Serious games Serious game design 


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Copyright information

© Association for Educational Communications and Technology 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Glenda A. Gunter
    • 1
  • Robert F. Kenny
    • 2
  • Erik H. Vick
    • 2
  1. 1.College of EducationUniversity of Central FloridaOrlandoUSA
  2. 2.School of Film and Digital MediaUniversity of Central FloridaOrlandoUSA

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