Extending the design of games for e-learning to include affective computing elements

Olaf Hallan Graven*, Lachlan Mackinnon, Liz Bacon

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

1 Citation (Scopus)


The use of human emotion in learning situations has been a feature of learning and training since earliest times, since it has been seen to improve the speed of uptake and the personalisation of the learning process. In recent years, research in affective computing has focused on providing realistic and appropriate representations of human emotions both in computer software and the variety of digital environments with which we engage, and, as a result, using these to create more realistic emotional interactions between humans and computers. A strong driver in this activity has been the games industry, seeking to make games more realistic and engaging, both for entertainment and, more recently, through the growth of serious games offering visualisation and simulation of real-world scenarios using games technologies. The authors have been involved for some time in research on the use of games for e-learning, and this paper considers the use of affective computing techniques within such games. The benefits are seen as greater engagement and immersion of students, faster achievement of suspension of disbelief, willingness to reuse and revisit learning materials, and the potential to introduce realistic emotions and stresses into the learning situation. Two similar but contrasting approaches, from the Pandora and Maritime City projects, are also discussed. The Maritime City project has developed a training scenario for social workers, based on a well-known child abuse case, using an avatar-based, first party game environment. The scenario is used as a training aid during interactive sessions, with the trainees critiquing the approach taken, analysing the issues presented, and role-playing alternative approaches. The Pandora project has developed an augmented reality training environment for Gold Commander crisis management, modelling and presenting real-world crisis situations as a timeline-based event network. The trainees are presented with a range of media inputs relating to the events as they unfold in the scenario, and are expected to collaboratively make decisions to deploy manpower and resources to address these events, in a timely fashion. Both projects seek to engender the stresses and emotional affects of their scenarios within the trainees, using accurate representation of the events, time constraints, and decision-making pressures, alongside the immersive effects of the technologies used. The conclusion from both projects, and from our other research, is that affective computing techniques can significantly enhance games for e-learning, but only if skilfully applied and with strong production values, as poor application of affective techniques can render a game unusable and laughable.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the International Conference on e-Learning, ICEL
EditorsTeresita Arenas Yanez, Paul Griffiths, Oscar Saavedra Rodriguez
PublisherAcademic Conferences and Publishing International Limited
Number of pages8
ISBN (Electronic)9781632668301
ISBN (Print)9781909507692
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2014
Externally publishedYes
Event9th International Conference on e-Learning, ICEL 2014 - Valparaiso, Chile
Duration: 26 Jun 201427 Jun 2014


Conference9th International Conference on e-Learning, ICEL 2014


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