Multimedia Systems

, Volume 16, Issue 1, pp 23–41 | Cite as

Implementing digital game-based learning in schools: augmented learning environment of ‘Europe 2045’

  • Cyril Brom
  • Vít Šisler
  • Radovan Slavík
Regular Paper


It is widely agreed that the traditional process of schooling can benefit from the usage of computers as supportive tools. Of various approaches using computers in education over the last decade, e-learning and edutainment have become the most prominent. Recently, a number of authors have criticised these approaches arguing that they conserve traditional ‘drill and practice’ behaviouristic methods of teaching instead of enhancing and augmenting them. It has been proposed that a ‘paradigm shift’ is needed and that this shift may come through utilizing all the advantages of full-fledged video games, so-called digital game-based learning (DGBL). However, several case studies reported serious problems with the DGBL. Among the most notable issues are the lack of acceptance of games as an educational tool, problems with integration of games into formal schooling environments, and the so-called transfer problem, which is the problem of the inherent tension between game play and learning objectives, the tension that mitigates the ability of students to transfer knowledge gained in the video game to the real-world context. Here, we present a framework for an augmented learning environment (ALE), which verbalises one way of how these problems can be challenged. The ALE framework has been constructed based on our experience with the educational game, Europe 2045, which we developed and which has been implemented in a number of secondary schools in the Czech Republic during 2008. The key feature of this game is that it combines principles of on-line multi-player computer games with social, role-playing games. The evaluation which we present in this paper indicates the successful integration of the game and its acceptance by teachers and students. The ALE framework isolates key principles of the game contributing to this success, abstracts them into theoretical entities we call action-based spaces and causal and grounding links, and condenses them in a coherent methodological structure, which paves the way for further exploitation of the DGBL by educational game researchers and designers.


Digital game-based learning Educational games Serious games Formal schooling Europe 2045 Augmented learning environment Transfer problem 



Europe 2045 was developed as part of the project CZ.04.3.07/, financed by the European Social Fund, the State Budget of the Czech Republic, and the City of Prague. The research related to the game was partially supported by the Czech Ministry for Education, Youth and Sport (Res. Project MSM0021620838), and the project “Information Society” (1ET100300517). The authors would like to thank to Jiří Lukavský for his advice on data collection and all the co-authors of the game: most notably Petr Jakubíček, Tomáš Holan, Martin Klíma, Klára Pešková, Edita Krausová, and Veronika Hrozinková.


  1. 1.
    Arnseth, H.C.: Learning to play or playing to learn—a critical account of the models of communication informing educational research on computer gameplay. Game. Stud. 6(1). (2006)
  2. 2.
    Baddeley, A.: Human Memory: Theory and Practice, revised edn. Psychology Press, Exeter (1997/1986)Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Bransford, J.D., Schwartz, D.L.: Rethinking transfer: a simple proposal with multiple implications. Rev. Res. Educ. 24, 61–100 (2001)Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Brom, C., Sisler, V., Holan, T.: Story manager in ‘Europe 2045’ uses petri nets. In: Proceedings of 4th International Conference on Virtual Storytelling, Saint-Malo, France, pp. 38–50. Springer, Berlin (2007)Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Coleman, J.: Learning through games. In: Avedon, E., Sutton-Smith, B. (eds.) The Study of Games, pp. 322–329. John Wiley, New York (1971)Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Cordova, D.I., Lepper, M.R.: Intrinsic motivation and the process of learning: beneficial effects of contextualization, personalization, and choice. J. Educ. Psychol. 88, 715–730 (1996)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    de Freitas S.: Learning in immersive worlds: a review of game-based learning. JISC (Joint informational Systems Committee) report. (2006). Accessed 6 September 2009
  8. 8.
    Dudai, Y.: Memory from A to Z. Oxford University Press, Oxford (2004)Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Egenfeldt-Nielsen, S., Buch, T.: The learning effect of ‘Global Conflicts: Middle East’. In: Santorineos, M., Dimitriadi, N. (eds.) Gaming Realities: A Challenge for Digital Culture, pp. 93–97. Fournos, Athens (2006)Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Egenfeldt-Nielsen, S.: Beyond edutainment: exploring the educational potential of computer games. PhD thesis, University of Copenhagen (2005)Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Eichenbaum, H., Cohen, N.J.: From conditioning to conscious recollection. Oxford University Press, New York (2001)Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Facer, K., Ulicsak, M., Sandford, R.: Can computer games go to school? In: Becta. Emerging Technologies for Learning. British Educational Communications and Technology Agency, Coventry. (2007). Accessed 6 September 2009
  13. 13.
    Gee, J.P.: What would a state of the art instructional video game look like? Innovate 1(6). (2005). Accessed 6 June 2007
  14. 14.
    Gee, J.P.: What Video Games Have to Teach Us About Learning and Literacy. Palgrave/St. Martin’s, New York (2003)Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Gentner, D., Stevens, A.L. (eds.): Mental Models. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Hillsdale (1983)Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Gibson, J.J.: The Ecological Approach to Visual Perception. Houghton Muffin, Boston (1979)Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Godden, D., Baddeley, A.D.: Context-dependent memory in two natural environments: on land and under water. Br. J. Psychol. 66, 325–331 (1975)Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Hopson, J.: Behavioral game design. In: Gamasutra on-line, April 27 (2001). Accessed 30 March 2009Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    Jantke, K.P.: Games that do not exist: communication design beyond the current limits. In: Proc. ACM Conference on Design of Communication (2006)Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    Johnson-Laird, P.N.: Mental Models. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA (1983)Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    Johnson-Laird, P.N.: How we reason. Oxford University Press, Oxford (2006)Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    Jones, K. (ed.): Special issue on clarifying the notion of affordance. Ecol. Psychol. 15(2) (2003)Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    Katz, J.: Up, up, down, down. (2000). Accessed 6 September 2009
  24. 24.
    Kirriemuir, J., McFarlane, A.: Literature review in games and learning. Nesta Futurelab series, Report 8, Bristol (2004)Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    Locke, J.: An Essay Concerning Human Understanding. Clarendon Press, Oxford (1975/1690)Google Scholar
  26. 26.
    Malone, T. W.: Toward a theory of intrinsically motivating instruction. Cogn. Sci. 4, 333–369 (1981)Google Scholar
  27. 27.
    Mateas, M.: Interactive drama, art and artificial intelligence. PhD thesis, Department of Computer Science, Carnegie Mellon University (2002)Google Scholar
  28. 28.
    McGrenere, J., Ho, W.: Affordances: Clarifying and evolving a concept. In: Proceedings of Graphics Interface, pp. 179–186 (2000)Google Scholar
  29. 29.
    Norman, D.A.: The Psychology of Everyday Things. Basic Books, New York (1988)Google Scholar
  30. 30.
    Norman, D.A.: Things that make us smart. Perseus Books, Reading, MA (1993)Google Scholar
  31. 31.
    Perkins, D., Salomon, G.: Transfer of learning. In: International Encyclopedia of Education, pp. 6452–6457. Elsevier, Oxford (1994)Google Scholar
  32. 32.
    Prensky, M.: Digital Game-Based Learning. McGraw Hill, New York (2001)Google Scholar
  33. 33.
    Saufley, W.H., Otaka, S.R., Bavaresco, J.L.: Context effects: classroom tests and context independence. Mem. Cogn. 13, 111–116 (1985)Google Scholar
  34. 34.
    Sandford, R., Ulicsak, M., Facer, K., Rudd, T.: Teaching with games. Using commercial off-the-shelf computer games in formal education, Futurelab, Bristol. (2007). Accessed 30 April 2009]
  35. 35.
    Schank, R.: Lessons in Learning, e-Learning, and Training. Wiley and Sons, New York (2005)Google Scholar
  36. 36.
    Schrader, P., Zheng, D., Young, M.: Teachers’ perceptions of video games: MMOGs and the future of preservice teacher education. Innovate 2(3) (2006). Accessed 30 April 2009
  37. 37.
    SimPark project: Accessed 28 August 2009
  38. 38.
    Šisler, V., Brom, C.: Designing educational game: case study of ‘Europe 2045’. In: Transactions on Edutainment I, LNCS 5080, pp. 1–16. Springer, Berlin (2008)Google Scholar
  39. 39.
    Šisler, V., Brom, C., Slavík, R.: Towards a novel paradigm for educational games: the augmented learning environment of “Europe 2045” In: Twelfth International MindTrek Conference: Entertainment and Media in the Ubiquitous Era, pp. 34–38. (2008)Google Scholar
  40. 40.
    Squire, L.R., Zola-Morgan, S.: The medial temporal lobe memory system. Science 253, 1380–1386 (1991)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. 41.
    Squire, K.: Replaying history: learning World History through playing Civilization III. PhD thesis, Indiana University (2004)Google Scholar
  42. 42.
    Squire, K.D.: From content to context: games as ideological spaces. Paper presented at the International Conference on Education and Information Systems Technologies and Applications (EISTA), Orlando (2004)Google Scholar
  43. 43.
    Squire, K.: Game-based learning: present and future state of the field. An x-Learn Perspective Paper. MASIE Center (2005). Accessed 6 June 2007
  44. 44.
    Squire, K., Steinkuehler, C.: Meet the gamers. Library Journal (2005). Accessed 6 September 2009
  45. 45.
    Squire, K.: Cultural framing of computer/video games. Game. Stud. 2(1) (2002)Google Scholar
  46. 46.
    Toth, J.P.: Nonconscious forms of human memory. In: The Oxford Handbook of Memory. Oxford University Press, Oxford (2000)Google Scholar
  47. 47.
    Tulving, E., Donaldson, W.: Organization of Memory. Academic Press, New York (1972)Google Scholar
  48. 48.
    Weiss, S., Muller, W.: The potential of interactive digital storytelling for the creation of educational computer games. In: Proc. Edutainment 2008, China, pp. 475–486. Springer (2008)Google Scholar
  49. 49.
    Zhan, L.: The potential of America’s army—the video game as civilian-military public sphere. Master thesis in comparative media studies, MIT (2004)Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of Mathematics-PhysicsCharles University in PraguePrague 1Czech Republic
  2. 2.Faculty of Philosophy and ArtsCharles University in PraguePrague 5Czech Republic
  3. 3.Faculty of PedagogyCharles University in PraguePrague 1Czech Republic

Personalised recommendations