This project describes and documents observational results that arise from the playtesting-based evaluation of twenty-six computer games focused on science learning or scientific research. We refer to this little studied genre of computer games as science learning games (SLGs). Our goal was to begin to identify a new set of criteria, play mechanics, and play experiences that give rise to play-based learning experiences in the realm of different scientific topics. More broadly, the games we examined may be viewed as demonstrating support for students/players to informally learn about different topics in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM), or to participate as citizen scientists in authentic research projects where games with a purpose may encourage broad participation in a scientific research study. This work includes comparative analysis of three non-STEM focused commercial games to three STEM games within our sample, just to see if we can similarly identify additional insights about SLG play mechanics and user experiences that can arise through non-SLG play. As part of this work we have developed a new science learning game, called Beam, that was designed and implemented to demonstrate some of the insights that were produced through this approach to the comparative playtesting and observational analysis of a sample of science learning games.
Here is a link to play the game.
Here is a link to the game sources: beam.zip