Glitchspace: teaching programming through puzzles in cyberspace

Iain Donald, Kayleigh MacLeod

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

2 Citations (Scopus)
147 Downloads (Pure)


There is an increasing need to address the player experience in games-based learning. Whilst games offer enormous potential as learning experiences, the balance between entertainment and education must be carefully designed and delivered. Successful commercial games tend to focus gameplay above any educational aspects. In contrast, games designed for educational purposes have a habit of sacrificing entertainment for educational value which can result in a decline in player engagement. For both, the player experience is critical as it can have a profound effect on both the commercial success of the game and in delivering the educational engagement. As part of an Interface-funded research project Abertay University worked with the independent games company, Space Budgie, to enhance the user experience of their educational game Glitchspace. The game aimed to teach basic coding principles and terminology in an entertaining way. The game sets the player inside a Mondrian-inspired cyberspace world where to progress the player needs to reprogramme the world around them to solve puzzles. The main objective of the academic-industry collaborative project was to analyse the user experience (UX) of the game to increase its educational value for a standalone educational version. The UX design focused on both pragmatic and hedonic qualities such playability, usability and the psychological impact of the game. The empirical study of the UX design allowed all parties to develop a deeper understanding of how the game was being played and the initial reactions to the game by the player. The core research question that the study sought to answer was whether when designing an educational game, UX design could improve philosophical concepts like motivation and engagement to foster better learning experiences.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 11th European Conference on Games Based Learning, ECGBL 2017
EditorsMaja Pivec, Josef Grundler
Place of PublicationReading
PublisherAcademic Conferences and Publishing International Limited
Number of pages7
ISBN (Print)9781510850446, 9781911218562
Publication statusPublished - 15 Sept 2017
Event11th European Conference on Games Based Learning, ECGBL 2017 - Graz, Austria
Duration: 5 Oct 20176 Oct 2017


Conference11th European Conference on Games Based Learning, ECGBL 2017


  • Game design
  • Games-based learning
  • STEM
  • User experience
  • Visual programming


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