Serious Games Analytics

Part of the series Advances in Game-Based Learning pp 381-399

Replay Analysis in Open-Ended Educational Games

  • Erik HarpsteadAffiliated withCarnegie Mellon University Email author 
  • , Christopher J. MacLellanAffiliated withCarnegie Mellon University
  • , Vincent AlevenAffiliated withCarnegie Mellon University
  • , Brad A. MyersAffiliated withCarnegie Mellon University

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Designers of serious games have an interest in understanding if their games are well-aligned, i.e., whether in-game rewards incentivize behaviors that will lead to learning. Few existing serious games analytics solutions exist to serve this need. Open-ended games in particular run into issues of alignment due to their affordances for wide player freedom. In this chapter, we first define open-ended games as games that have a complex functional solution spaces. Next, we describe our method for exploring alignment issues in an open-ended educational game using replay analysis. The method uses multiple data mining techniques to extract features from replays of player behavior. Focusing on replays rather than logging play-time metrics allows designers and researchers to run additional metric calculations and data transformations in a post hoc manner. We describe how we have applied this replay analysis methodology to explore and evaluate the design of the open-ended educational game RumbleBlocks. Using our approach, we were able to map out the solution space of the game and highlight some potential issues that the game’s designers might consider in iteration. Finally, we discuss some of the limitations of the replay approach.


Alignment Replay analysis Open-ended games