Table of Contents

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Table of Contents

1.0 Introduction

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8

1.1 Problem Statement

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10

1.2 De
limitations

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11

1.2.1 Usability

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11

1.2.2 Culture and Language

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12

1.2.3 Best Practices in Language Learning
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12

1.2.4 Play testing

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12

1.3 Methodology

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12

1.3.1 Technical Methodology

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14

2.0 Background Theory

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15

2.1 Learning On The Go

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15

2.2 Types of Learning

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...

17

2.3 Game
-
Learning

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17

2.4 Motivation Behind Learning

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18

2.5 Fun

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24

2.6 Usability

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24

3.0 Research Cases and Games

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24

3.1 Dyslexia

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24

3.2 Research on Fun and Usability in Learning Software

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26

3.3 Researchers’ Opinion on Educational Games (Edutainment)

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27

3.4 Learning Games Analysis

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29

3.4.1 Slime Forest Adventure

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29

3.4.2 Knuckles in China Land

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30

3.4.3 Dora the Explorer


The Lost City Adventure

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32

3.4.4 Spread the Word

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37

3.5 The Arabic Language
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38

3.5.1 Foundations of Arabic
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38

3.5.2 Learning Arabic

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40

3.5.3 Research in Learning Arabic

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41

3.6 Teaching Arabic

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.

43

4.0 Data Evaluation
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45



2



5.0 The
Game
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49

5.1 Implementation

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49

5.1.2 Game Modes

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50

5.2 Implementation Post Mortem

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53

5.2.1 Main Problems Encountered

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53

5.2.2 Serialization and Reflection

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5
5

5.2.3 Collections

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55

5.2.4 The Concept of the Editor
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56

5.2.5 The Controls
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57

5.2.6 Game Modes

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57

5.2.7 Sound

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58

5.2.8 Graphics

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58

5.2.9 Dictionary

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58

5.3 Ideas for further development

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58

5.4 Documentation

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59

6.0 Evalua
tion of the Design

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59

6.1 Design Decisions

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60

6.1.2 No Menu

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60

6.1.3 Limited Sounds

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61

6.1.4 Co
lours

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61

6.1.5 Icons

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62

6.1.6 Music

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62

6.1.7 Voice

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62

6.1.8 Narrative

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62

6.2 Evaluation of the Mini Games

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63

6.2.1 Creature Battle Game

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63

6.2.2 Memory Game

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64

6.2.3 Letter Finding Shooter Game

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65

6.2.4 Final Evaluation

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65

7.0 Reflections

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67

7.1 Other Areas of Research

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70

8.0 Conclusion

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71



3



List of Refere
nces

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74

List of Figures and Tables

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82

Appendix I
-

Game Design Document

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83

1.0 Introduction and Pitch

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86

1.
1 Working Title

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86

1.2 High Concept

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86

1.3 Genre

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86

1.4 Main Character

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86

1.5 Time and Place

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86

1.6 Story

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86

1.7 Winning Condit
ion

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.

86

1.8 Gameplay

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86

1.9 Idea

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86

1.10 Genre & Target
Audience

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87

1.11 Mobile phone

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87

1.12 Fun Learning

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87

1.13 60 Seconds of Gameplay

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87

1.14 Unique Selling Points

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87

1.
14 Common Questions

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88

2.0 Features

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90

2.1 Images and Animations

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90

3.0 The Gameplay

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90

3.1 Game Mec
hanics

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...

90

3.1.1 Walking and Selecting

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90

3.2 Mini Games

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90

3.2 What is the game about?

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3.3 What do I control?

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.

91

3.4 Ph
ilosophy of Control

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91

3.5 Walkthrough

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91

3.6 Hours of Gameplay

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91

3.7 End Game State

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91

4.0 Camera

and View

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91



4



5.0 The World and Level Design

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91

5.0.1 Key Locations

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91

5.0.2 Controls

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91

5.0.3 Objects


Define Units & Events

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91

5.0.4 Rules for interaction

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91

5.1 The World Layout

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92

5.1.1 Graphics

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92

5.1.2 Graphics Formats


Types of Graphics

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92

5.1.3 Graphical Pipeline

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92

5.2 World Map Design

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93

6.0 Game Characters

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93

6.1 The Sprite

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93

6.2 The Monsters

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93

6.3 The Ho
use

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6.5 The Danger Zones

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94

6.4 How do I control the Sprite?

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94

6.4.1 Button Press Control Scheme

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94

8.0 User Interface

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94

8.2 Game Interface

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95

General Game Overview
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95

Game Interfaces

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95

9.0 Music and Sound FX

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96

10.0 C
redits

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96

11.0 Appendix

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97

Screen Menu
-

Wireframe

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97

Appendix II
-

Arabic Consonants

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100

Appendix III
-

Miriam Taouk and Max Coltheart’s Three Phases

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..

104

Appendix IV
-

Definitions

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105







5



Abstract


This work sought to build an educational game for illiterate Arabi
c

speakers

in Africa
, since Arabi
c

is the
alphabet in most of Northern Africa
(
and the Middle East
)
. The design of a mobile phone educational game
for the poor and illiterate is a serious challenge which pulls from diverse disciplines, including the obvious
ones like Educational Theory, Software Engineering, and Language Theory and
seemingly
less obviou
s ones
such as Sociology, Psychology and Typography among others.
T
hose theories with research on educational
games

will be combined

to build a learning game that will

enable and motivate people to learn to read
,

even without

the

a
ccess to a classroom or
teacher
. We implemented a basic game framework based on
those principles and outlined future steps to be taken to get it ready for deployment. As part of that
framework we have a functional game designed according to these principles. Our conclusion is tha
t mobile
gaming could be ferti
le ground for educational games.

I
t has
so far
been largely unexplored due to the
significant limitations that still constrain mobile phone development

but is one more resources from
various fields should be contributed to
.





6



Preface


The purpose of writing this thesis was to push ourselves
to venture
into a whole new field of interest that
could actually

carry

the potential to do some good in this world. Though it has been an extremely
challenging journey to venture into field
s of the “unknown”, we feel that

the blood, sweat and tears have
been

worth it.





7



Acknowledgements

We would like to give
big

thanks to:

Jens Christian Godskesen

for providing his time and help in supervising and ping ponging with us for the
project.

Claus
Witfelt

for his inspirational help and advice.

Josie Taylor and Agnes Kukulska
-
Hulme

from the Open University for their help and support in the
research on m
-
learning.

The
DMI

Crew

for their loving disturbances,
making us cold, lovely food, candy,
help and

entertainment.

ITU

for providing us with the resources

The ITU Cleaning Lady

for helping to keep the office clean.






8



1.0
Introduction

Education in poorer regions has been an ongoing problem for many years. Numerous projects have been
made to increase the financial economy in these regions; however money alone will not fix the problems
that have stemmed as a result of poverty. Education i
s one of the areas that are often missing, when one
speaks of poverty.
A
s education
requires money, the difference of percentage GDP invested in this area
make a difference to what can be provided to the society.
Though developing

countries invest a large
percentage of their GDP into education, the amount is still small

compared to developed countries,

due to
the difference in size of GDP.

However the investment into education is where the hope for the economy’s
growth in countries stems from.

Taking this i
nto consideration, one question is whether there are other ways of learning that can be
stimulated within these societies. In the more developed countries, we see a trend in people learning not
only through their peers as it has traditionally been, but als
o through mediums such as the internet, as
tutorials and guidelines continue to be posted and discussed.


Computers as information access devices require a lot of overhead costs, steep learning
curve, and infrastructure to be useful. These prerequisites
make computers impractical to be
used as a medium for social development.
” (Chakraborty, 2006)

Most developing countries do not have such infrastructure in place to support such activities however.
Many countries in continents such as Africa do not even ha
ve land phone lines installed in order for
“ordinary” communication to take place across distances. And with the lack of money and educated labour,
schooling across the ages has continuously remained an issue that governments continue to tackle. World
init
iatives such as and similar to the “One Laptop per Child
1
?_??Z???À??????????v??]?v?]?š?]???š????????µ?š????À???v??š?Z?]?•??š???l???•?????o?}?v?P?
time, due to
the necessary research, cost reductions
and manufacturing processes
.

During the development of the African continent, the
wireless
telec
ommunication

industry

saw an
“explosion” during the end of the 1990s and start of the 21
st

century.
The reason for this is that “its national
telecommunications monopolies are poorly managed and corrupt, and they can't afford to lay new lines or
maintain o
ld ones” (Mbarika & Mbarika, 2006).
By the end 2001, more than half of the nations in Africa (28)
had more mobile subscribers than landline ones, creating a percentage higher than any of the other
continents in the world (Mbarika & Mbarika, 2006)
. The figu
re below presents the differences in
subscribers between fixed lines and mobiles between 1994 and 2004.




1

U.S.

non
-
profit organization set up to oversee the creation of a cheap, affordable educational device for use in the
developing world. Its current focus is on the development, construction and deployment of the XO
-
1 laptop to
promote children's education in de
veloping nations. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/One_laptop_per_child)



9




Figure
1
:
differences in subscribers between fixed lines and mobiles between 1994 and 2004

Source: International Telecommunic
ation Union (Azran, 2006)

With
"more than 80 percent of cellphones purchased in sub
-
Saharan African countries are for personal use,
not business" (Mbarika & Mbarika, 2006) it would not be surprising that this too is the trend throughout
the rest of Africa:

even for the countries that already have many fixed main lines, such as Egypt, South
Africa, Tunisia, etc. (Africapedia, 2007). With such a growth in subscribers, the penetration
rates’
(percentage of the population that has a mobile phone and uses it) in
crease “reflects an affordable service”
(C
-
News, 2005) throughout Africa. This signifies that in comparison to the low personal computers’
penetration rate, due to the affordability of the hardware, internet and the insufficient number of
dependable lines
(RNCOS, 2006), mobile phones as a communications tool is currently the most widespread
and accessible medium.

Bearing the above in mind, considering that mobile phones are slowly tending towards becoming small
handheld “computers”

with their capabilities
of

running various applications due to their support in running
J2ME
2

based programs, the possibilities in creating useful tools sound endless. Thus as the African countries
do not have the luxury to have ready and affordable access to computers and the hi
gh speed internet, what
if this medium is used to “
fulfil

this role by allowing users to access relevant information” (Chakraborty,
2006) through use of specially made applications?






2

J2ME


Java 2 Mobile Edition


this is a computer programming language and virtual machine that has become a
standard present in most of the mobile phones created since… Thus most of t
he phones that the countries in Africa
have are expected to carry such support, as they often get the generation of mobile phones after the more developed
countries. (EDIT)



10



Klopfre et al (2002 as cited in Naismith, Lonsdale, Vavoula, Sharples, 2
006) identified five properties of
mobile

devices, which in this case were PDAs
that could produce unique educational affordances

(mobile
phone devices also share the same properties in these cases)
:

1)

Portability

a.

The small size and weight of the mobile devi
ces means that they can be taken to different
sites or moved around within a site.

2)

Social Interactivity

a.

Data exchange and collaboration with other lear
ners can happen face
-
to
-
face

(Nyiri
,

2002
as cited in Naismith, Lonsdale, Vavoula, Sharples, 2006),
de
pos
its a new philosophy of
mobile learning that points to mobile technologies as facilitators for the innate
anthropological need to communicate.

3)

Context Sensitivity

a.

Mobile devices can both gather and respond to real or simulated data unique to the
current lo
cation, environment and time.

4)

Connectivity

a.

A shared network can be created by connecting mobile devices to data collection devices,
other devices or to a common network.

5)

Individuality

a.

Scaffolding for difficult activities can be customized for individual
learners.

When coupling Africa’s stil
l widespread educational issues, such as having a high

illiteracy

rate

with the
ever increasing use of mobiles, the possibility of using the mobile phones
as a medium for learning comes

to mind.

Here, the emphasis of
Klipfre et al’s list will focus the qualities of

portability and individuality.

Research behind the use

of using mobile devices for education has observed numerous pros. One of the
most quoted ones is the concept of portability: “Portability


the small si
ze and weight of mobile devices
means they can be taken to different sites or moved around within a site.” (Klopfer et al, 2002 cited in
Naismith, Lonsdale, Vavoula, Sharples, 2006). This allows users to study, when their motivation is high
(McNicol, 2004)
, i.e. whenever and wherever they feel like it.

“To fully appreciate the potential of mobile technologies for learning, we must look beyond the use of
individual devices and consider their use embedded in classroom practice, or as part of a learning
experi
ence outside the classroom”

(Naismith, Lonsdale, Vavoula, Sharples, 2006).

1.1
Problem Statement

The developing world has a low literacy rate, which hurts the economic d
evelopment, which in turn again
h
urts the literacy rate and so forth
. The project attem
pts to make a game to help the very worst of the


11



literacy problems, which may then be built upon to further increase the literacy level and in turn improve
the economy.

However, this alone is a very large problem to tackle as a whole. The focus is therefor
e based on making a
game that can contribute to the ripple effect in improving the economic situation in the developing
countries.

The project attempts to do this by
tackling the individual’s own education, just as the internet platform has
aided in doing,

for the internet users in the developed countries.

To do this, certain questions will need to
be investigated, in order to clarify the possibilities:

What are the challenges involved in designing a mobile game with focus on “independent learning”? What
possibilities are there regarding building a framework for developing a mobile game to be easily
customizable to localization? And how could one go about creating a mobile game for someone that cannot
read?

1.2
Delimitations

“We are all biased and we all v
iew the world through our own experience. This helps us in
some places and hinders us in others.”

(Becker, 2008)

As there are many areas involved in creating a mobile game for learning, there are fields that the report will
not go into detail with. There m
ay be many dependencies that affect the results of the outcome of the
investigation and as it may be out of the scope of this project, it will make a note of this.

The project does not seek to revolutionize the way language should be learnt. Instead, it us
es what existing
techniques there are and attempts to incorporate it into a mobile device for the purpose presented in the
problem statement.

The features involved in the design of a learning mobile game consist of areas such as: usability, culture,
langu
age, theories of best practice regarding learning and teaching of languages.

1.2.1
Usability

The report will go into discussion about building a game without the use of text as part of the user interface
due to the target group in question. It will however

not explore the various possibilities and areas regarding
how the interface may vary. Nor will it provide the possible solutions for these interface problems

based on
the target groups,

as this is a research area in itself.





12



1.2.2
Culture and Language

Th
ese two areas are closely tied to one another and also affect the aspect of usability. The project

is aware
of this but

will not investigate deeply

into

the cultural connotations regarding the symbolic value or types
of symbols used.

1.2.3
Best Practices i
n Language Learning

Attempting to create an application/software/game that helps in teaching an individual how to read, the
project will not go into discussion regarding what the most optimal method of teaching languages

is
. This,
although also a very
relevant area, is however one that continues to grow and is again a research field in its
own right.

1.2.4
Play testing

Due to the time and resource constraints, fully fledged play testi
ng towards the target group is

not carried
out. However, general iterative testing

is

carried out

during development

among peers in order to maintain
feedback and consistency with the user interface.

The game
does

not seek to become a full fledged course as an all
-
in
-
one solution for t
hose who want to
learn to read Arabic. Instead, it provide
s

a conceptual sample of some of the possibilities, with special
emphasis on those that do not recognize “a single word” of Arabic. With these samples, the project should
be extendible to target/sti
mulate other areas of language learning.

The project does not seek to create an education
al

system.

1.3
Methodology


The understanding of [learning theory or] psychology offers a framework to developing an
educational game that promotes learning while main
taining high motivation of the player.

(Siang & Rao, 2003, p. 239 as cited in Batson & Freiberg, 2006, p.34)

The

research consists mainly of secondary data and

will begin by first reviewing theories on language
programs, learning games and
information on

mobile game development. Doing so will help provide a
stronger focal point to finding answers to our problem statement.

In order to implement any game to teach a player how to read Arabic will require research on the
fundamental building blocks of an Arab
ic word. As it carries a different set of rules and font/writing
compared to that of languages with some Latin origin, using the same techniques to teach Latin languages
may or may not be compatible with the teaching of Arabic. This needs to be investigate
d before the design
of the game takes place.

Mobile games in their current form are
differentiated
from the “conventional” PC or console games
.

Due to
this, research into the limitations and possibilities of the used mobile devices, their development kits,

usability preferences, controls, etc. need to be done.



13



As the project seeks to develop a product for Africa, the current platform to look at will be of an older
generation phones that will not be near as powerful
3

as the newer phones today, such as the No
kia N96s
and iPhones. This is due to the fact that although mobile phones are most widespread in Africa, their
models are not necessarily new. But as we are testing on previous generation phones, we will begin by
creating some minimum phone specifications
to work from, before going about designing and developing
the game. This will be important due to the fact that creating an application that will not be able to run on
the “older” phone models will deem the application non
-
practical.

As teaching reading ha
s been tackled in numerous ways over the years, the methodology we have chosen
to focus on is that of mobile learning. One reason for focusing on this is because, “Mobile learning helps
learners to improve their literacy and numeracy skills and to recognis
e their existing abilities”
(Southhampton, 2005). And it was found from the university’s experimentation that, “even when the
technology went wrong, it still generated opportunities to practice new vocabulary” (Southhampton, 2005).
This may provide the pro
ject to experiment with different areas of learning without having to stick too
closely “to any set rules” on how to build up and design such a game, as it is a very open area of research.

What the project however makes sure not to tackle is

the possibilit
y of having the

mobile device and
application completely replace the
educational
structures that may exist in any country’s educational
system. This is because there are still results maintained by such structures, which will have to be analysed
thoroughly
, before being able to consider such a replacement solution. Secondly, such an application will
also require many other variables to be changed, such as the way teachers teach, how the meaning of
“school” is considered, etc. Instead, the project has decide
d to pinpoint the various areas which can be
strengthened, stimulated and motivated from the use mobile learning. A large reason is because it has
been considered a "big mistake
to try

to import the classroom experience to different platforms
--

that's
not

going to work. You have to figure out, what are the tasks that can be accomplished given the
parameters of the computer? Mobile learning isn't a substitute for a great teacher or a great class
experience" (McNicol, 2004)

The focus on the product is to cre
ate a game that is based on fun and learning intuitively whilst doing so
,
even without support like teachers around
.

Here
research cases based on fun and learning
, as well as the
analyses of existing games will be investigated
. These theories will help act

as a foundation for some of the
decisions made during the product design.

During the design evaluation, the paper will
make use of
Shelton and Wiley’s
modifie
d version of Hedden’s
conditions
to analyse

and discuss

the cur
rent design of the mobile game.

Th
e reflections will then present B
ecker’s own existing compiled list of principles based on her current
study on “the direct significance to game design for the purpose of learning” (Becker, 2008)
.

Though this list
is presented by Becker as incomplete, it c
ontains elements which will aid in seeking to pinpoint areas which
may be fulfilled, partially fulfilled or lacking with regards to learning in the game.

Becker herself has stated
that:




3

Powerful


refers to hardware advancements such as memory, disk/memory space, pro
cessor speed, screen
resolution, screen type, etc.



14




No single Instructional Design model is going to be able to address h
ow to build educational games, and if
we heed the lessons that can be learned from thirty
-
odd years of Software Engineering (Hayes, 2003) and
that of Instructional Design (Kenny, Zhang, Schwier, & Campbell, 2005), no model or theory will be
forthcoming tha
t can serve as anything but a guide.

In other words, there will be no reliable recipes for
designing and developing educational games.
” (Becker, 2008)

And due to this, the research paper will move from the above to provide its own lessons learnt from the
r
esearch and investigation involved in creating a mobile learning game. It will then provide the areas which
will be needed for further research

and testing

to contribute to this particular area of learning in games.

While it is not the purpose of this proj
ect to scientifically approve or disprove the theories on games,
themes of
learning and motivation, it is necessary to provide some background in these areas to argue for
our decisions.

1.3.1
T
echnical Methodology

The programming of the mobile game
took

place in a
n iterative fashion. It
began
by first creating a
prototype mock up to evaluate the technology that the application has to deal with.
It

then proceed
ed

to
the design of the game and the building of the underlying structure to support the framewo
rk for the
game.


The sources used
were

primarily based on secondary evidence gathered from researches made by other
researchers in the area of learning. This

theory will be read and used in

attempt
to
develop the project.
However
,

during the development c
ycle, results gathered from the implementation itself w
ere

compared
to that of the theory and the iterative process in
implementing

the ga
me
continued another round.





15



2.0

Background Theory

2.1
Learning On The Go

The concept or idea of building a learning

application for the mobile phone is not new. This concept can be
viewed as mobile learning.

In the report by Connolly and Stansfield (2006), they included a table adapted
by Taylor (2001)

regarding different generations of distance learning. At the very b
ottom of this table is the
concept of m
-
Learning, which is also being considered the third generation of eLearning. What is most
apparent in this table is how “Highly Refined Materials” and “Advanced Interactive Delivery” technologies
were not yet met at t
he time.


Figure
2
: Table

of “A New Model of Distance Education”

from (Connolly & Stansfield, 2006)



16



There are multiple reasons for these, which will be discussed later in the report, when discussing the
limitations and quirks to b
e aware of, when developing for mobile technology. As it currently stands,
mobile technology has evolved and many of the new phones at the time of this writing can be seen as mini
computers.

If one looked at the table carefully and observed the underlying
generations, one will realise that every
generation contains elements of one another that are useful for learning. Whether it has to do with
stimulating the visuals, the communication process or audio, the pattern of influence
from one to the next
generati
on is to
be con
sidered with

any new “revelation”.

Mobile Learning has
often
been viewed
upon

as an extension of the classroom or as an extra tool to be
used for classrooms.
Its uses and applications have been the subject for discussion for some time but
all
agree that the potentials are there. Collins expressed in his paper on “Mobile Language Learning with Cell
Phones” that t
he idea of

mobile learning is just beginning. Only now are technologies emerging that will
support basic learning applications, bu
t even these technologies offer the ability to develop meaningful,
effective learning objects for language learning. New technologies will support learning applications of
greater sophistication. By drawing on previous experience, integrating effective, re
search
-
based methods,
and melding those with the emerging capabilities of mobile phones, the possibility exists of developing
compelling


mobile learning content to meet the needs of language learners worldwide.
” (Collins, 2005)

Connolloy & Stansfield’s re
search in 2006, they found that
“Initial results on the use of mLearning have
been encouraging and research suggests, for example, that mLearning enhances autonomous and
collaborative learning and that it can be applied to a wide age range of learners. mLe
arning is still at an
early stage but as these devices become more functional and commonplace we would expect to see
significant developments in this area. mLearning has the potential to provide truly “anywhere” learning.”
(Connolly & Stansfield, 2006)

Whe
n considering

these

results

and suggestions, putting on the

game designer

hat
, a few thoughts come to
mind.
Collaborative learning can give rise either to multiplayer environments or simpl
y

become
collaborative because people are able to “sit together” and

discuss whenever and wherever they are.
Sitting together, in this case, can be considered physically or virtually.

As mLearning continues to emerge and grow, theories regarding this area are
still more

“scarce” than that
of eLearning. But questions arise
as to whether aspects of eLearning can be applied to that of mLearning,
just as “traditional” forms of
learning have been partially applicable to that of eLearning. Fundamental
research in areas of learning, such as cognitive and behavioural learning

are a
reas in which can be
discussed. However, as this is out of the scope of this project, this section will present various areas in
which research has been conducted

in the areas of eLearning.







17



2.2
Types of Learning

Behaviourist

Activities that promote
learning as a change in learner’ observable
actions.

Constructivist

Activities in which learners actively construct new ideas or concepts
based on both their previous and current knowledge.

Situated

Activities that promote learning within an authentic
context and culture.

Collaborative

Activities that promote learning through social interaction.

Informal and lifelong

Activities that support learning outside a dedicat
e
d learning environment
and formal curriculum.

Learning and teaching support

Activiti
es that assist in the coordination of learners and resources for
learning activities.

Table
1
:
Six Types of Learning

Source: (Naismith, Lonsdale, Vavoula, Sharples, 2006)

Of these six types of learning activities mentioned above, the ones
that may be
relevant to
the

mobile

project are the behaviourist, constructivist and informal and lifelong learning. This is because providing that
the game provides good feedback, the indi
vidual should be able to adjust his/her actions accordingly, whilst
being able to use the knowledge learned throughout their “trial and error” journey in the game to improve.

The fundamental learning of the language in the game will not necessarily create
completely new ideas,
however it may aid in recognizing new words not learned.

Informal and lifelong learning is the type that is most relevant for the project.
Although this may be
considered in theory as having the existence of a learning environment and

formal curriculum, the game in
itself is to support the learning of the language, whether there is an educational system in place or not. If
an educational system is in place and is involved with the individual, the game serves to allow further
developmen
t during the time outside of school, in order to aid in obtaining better results.

















































2.3
Game
-
Learning

Having now provided a quick overview over the various types of learning and existing educational models,
where does this project stand? Where does this project have
its place?

Behavio
u
ral theory in game design is used for learning basic rules of game play and promotes stimuli.
Providing immediate positive or negative feedback in the game play allows the user to respond on the basis
of earlier experience (Siang & Rao,
2003 as cited in Batson & Freiberg, 2006, p.35). For example, when
playing a game and the player sees an enemy running after his/her “character”, he/she will spontaneously
move to miss it. And “when basic rules of [the] game are understood, players start t
o think cognitively how
they should respond in a new situation, actively update existing knowledge to fit what is newly confronted
in the game environment” (Siang & Rao, 2003, p. 241).



18



Cognitive constructivism, on the other hand, when s
uccessfully

implemen
ted

in e
-
learning applications
,

allows users uninhibited navigation for learning and multimedia interaction for feedback. This is where
computer games allow for discovery learning by immersing the players in a virtual world where they learn
by discovery al
ong with trial and error (Siang & Rao, 2003).

What the project seeks to create is a game for the mobile phones that aids in learning. The question of,
“why not just create an
ordinary

application for this purpose?” arises.
This is because “g
ames are so
eng
aging
,

precisely because they tap into some of the most ef
fective approaches for learning” (Becker,
2008).

The game should be fun to play, whether or not the player “learns anything”
4

from it.

“Good” games
have been argued to already “embody sound pedagogy

in their designs despite the knowledge that the
incorporation was not deliberate”
(Prensky, 2006; Becker, 2005d, 2005f, 2006d; Gee, 2003

cited in Becker,
2008
).
Fun will help make

the game

better and

more engaging, as without it, the player will have no
mo
tivation to stick too long with it.
If one manages to make the player stick long enough, chances of
“accidental l
earning
” occurring are higher as a result of the intrinsic motivation of the player
.

Motivation is a
n important

component to make the concept of play work. The following section will present
the motivation behind learning, what it is that drives people to keep doing so, and how it relates to games
and the design of educational games.

2.4
Motivation Behind Learning

This section regarding motivation will be based on Connolly & Stansfield’s

and Bixler’s

discussion regarding
the motivational theories

and how it relates to
games
.

Bixler mentions that his paper, including the cited
research in the paper is “biased towards

constructs of motivation appropriate for Western cultures” (Bixler,
2005). Although the plan is to use these concepts as part of the basis for a game made for Africans, as every
culture has some form of play and games, it is assumed that fundamentally, th
ere
is a high likelihood that
there
are many roots to similar forms of motivation.

In Bixler’s investigation of the relationship of motivation with the design of educational games, he refers to
John Keller’s ARCS

(1987

as cited in Bixler
, 2005
)

model. This

is presented in the table below, which is
compiled from the information gathered
and presented
by Bixler:

Attention

This emphasises the fact that gaining learning is a prerequisite and sustaining this is
critical. A student’s knowledge
-
seeking curiosity i
s to be aroused without over
-
stimulation, i.e. to find a proper balance between boredom and hyperactivity.

In reference to Yerks
-
Dodson’s Law, as tasks become increasingly difficult, the optimum
level of motivation declines (Travers, 1982).

On method of ga
ining and keeping attention is through the use of novelty. This makes
the individual focus on the object or situation in an attempt to discover the nature of the
object of situation

(Travers, 1982)
.

Use of colour, animation and sound can also help provide
external stimuli to motivate
learner, as it attracts and retains users (Ritchie & Hoffman, 1997).

Three ways of gaining attention:

Perceptual Arousal




4

Learns anything


debatable as one may need to learn something to be able to play along by the rules



19



-

Gaming and maintaining the student’s attention through the use of novel,
surprising incongruous or
uncertain events in instruction.

Inquiry Arousal

-

Stimulate information
-
seeking behaviour by posing, or having the learner
generate, questions or a problem to solve.

Variability

-

Maintain student interest by varying the elements of instruction.

Relevance

Here relevance cannot only come from what is taught, but also how it is taught. An
example is where people who are in need for affiliation will perceive relevance in group
projects. Curiosity, creativity and high
-
order thinking are stimulated by relevant,
authentic
tasks of optimal difficulty and novelty for each student, according to Wagner (1998).

Three methods for providing relevance:

Familiarity

-

Adapt instruction, use concrete language, use examples and concepts that are
related to the learner’s experie
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-

Provide statements or examples that present the objectives and
utility of the
instruction, and either present goals for accomplishment or have the learner define
them.

Motive Matching

-

Adapt by using teaching strategies that match the motive profiles of the students.

Confidence

Here there is expectancy for success, where the locus/focus of control plays an important
role.

People with an internal locus tend to attribute success to effort
.

People with an external locus look to luck or the difficulty of the task for determination of
success.

Travers (1982) validated in his research on discussion of fear of failure people that
confidence is a motivational factor in instruction. He found that

fear of failure in people
will accept the risk if the odds of success are either very good or very poor, where very
poor chance failures can blamed on outside factors. Success
-
oriented people on the other
hand accept middle
-
of
-
the
-
road risks and avoid the

high and low
-
risk situations. This is
because low
-
risks offer too little challenge, whilst high risks are too chancy.

Three methods of building confidence in a learner:

Expectancy for Success

-

Make learners aware of performance requirements and evaluative
criteria.

Challenge Setting

-

Provide multiple achievement levels that allow learners to set personal goals or
standards of accomplishment, and performance opportunities that allow them to
experience success.

Attribution Molding

-

Provide feedback that supports student ability and effort as the determinants of
success.

Satisfaction

This has to do with the involvement of normal reinforcements for work well done and
contends with issues of learner control. E.g. if a student must acc
omplish a goal to get a
teacher
-
derived reward as opposed to an already
-
existing intrinsically satisfying reward,
control of the learning situation is lost to the student. In such a case, the learning
satisfaction is decreased. Malone (1981) and (Zombardo,

1969 and Letter & Greene, 1979)


20



among other researchers also do.

Three methods of enhancing satisfaction:

Natural Consequences

-

Provide opportunities to use newly acquired knowledge or skill in a real or
simulated setting.

Positive Consequences

-

Provide
feedback and reinforcements that will sustain the desired behaviour.

Equity

-

Maintain consistent standards and consequences for task accomplishment.

Table
2
:
John Keller’s ARCS

model

Source: (
Bixler, 2005
)

Continuing with Bixler’s

paper, he mentions Wlodkowski’s (1985) Time Continuum Model of Motivation
,
which is more focused on the adult learner
:

Time Continuum Model of Motivation (Wlodkowski, 1985)

-

Before Instruction



Attitude



Need

-

During Instruction



Stimulation



Affect

-

After Instr
uction



Competence



Reinforcement


Adult learners are portrayed in (Bixler, 2005) as the following:

-

L
earners whose “needs are addressed by reducing or removing environmental
components that
lead to failure
”.

-

In so doing, they are willing to attempt trying
out the new piece of skill before assessing whether it
is worth their while or not.

-

Will ask during the beginning of a learning sequence, “Do I need it?” and “What do I think of it?”
And these thoughts, “needs and attitudes interact with the stimulation an
d affective processes that
occur during instruction”.

And to handle this

(Bixler, 2005)
:

-

Maintaining of the learner’s attention can be done by providing a variety of activities and through
the use of varying presentation techniques that will stimulate them
.

-

Be sure that they are participating actively in the learning process.

-

Maintain positive attitudes; utilize cooperative goal and learning structures to maximize
the

cohesiveness in the learning group.



21



-

Increase

learner

competence by making them aware of the progress towards goals via positive
feedback.

-

The above r
einforcement provides a strong motivational influence for continued/future learning.


To learn effectively requires that the learner is in the right state of m
ind. It requires that the learner is
willing to learn and wants to do so. This will often also mean that the learner is somewhat motivated in the
initial phase as well. With this attitude, in order to continue learning requires that the motivation is kept
within the learner. This requires stimulation and is done so by having the materials being learnt affect the
learner's state of mind in a positive manner. Having done so then requires that the material is being
reinforced in the learner until he/she become
s competent at it. Doing so, the learner will turn this data into
knowledge and may use it for whatever comes next in line.

These aspects of learning can be cross referenced in Bixler's account of John Keller. He too emphasises that
the
sustainability

of l
earning requires knowledge
-
seeking curiosity that should be stimulated without "over
-
stimulating" it.

Keller quotes Travers (1982) in saying that one method of gaining and keeping the attention of the student
is via the use of novelty, which is a "a fictit
ious prose narrative of considerable length and complexity,
portraying characters and usually presenting a sequential organization of action and scenes". Like reading a
book, this "causes the individual to focus on the object or situation in an attempt to
discover the nature of
the object of situation." This is one reason for embedding the learning in a game as games, whether they
tell a story or not, have a stronghold in attracting the player's attention. Combine this with the use of
colour, animation and
sound, one should be able to obtain the complete package.

This is one of the reasons for going after the RPG format with mini games to stimulate the player in
multiple different ways.


To make things short, Keller's descriptions presented by Bixler consist

of being aware of the attention,
relevance, confidence and satisfaction of the player.

These are areas which can be tested during the play
tests, although they may be difficult to rate.

However, these are the areas to be kept in mind when
designing the ga
me.

What can one do to apply these stimulants
presented above
for a learner in a game?

Taking the ARCS
model as a template and Bixler’s considerations, the qualities
the learning game should have are

shown in
the table below:


Attention

There is a world of

obstacles for the player to explore. Each obstacle contains different
challenges, which are designed in such a way so as to reinforce the player’s prior
learning. It provides higher difficulty so as to continuously challenge the player, to make
sure that
he/she will not become bored. This is used to withhold and sustain the
attention of the player to continue grinding away.

For the game to be complete however, the colours, animations and sound will have to be
reworked in order to attract players to the gam
e.



22



Relevance

The challenges and reinforcement of the material learnt should help the player be able to
apply the knowledge learnt throughout the game. Without having the ability to do so will
most likely cause the player to either forget it or simply not
see the point in why he/she
should continue to play the game.

The mini games in question should contain stimulants for a set of skills that are relevant to
the target group.

Confidence

The game should be intuitive so as to make it easy to get started. The

mini games should
not be too difficult, especially in the beginning, in order to stimulate the player’s
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Satisfaction

The game s
hould drive the player to want to continue to play because of the satisfaction
they get out of the game. This is often done from the reward system in the game.

As a game, it can provide the player with instant feedback, which can allow the player to
toy wi
th the fluctuations of learning, where mistakes and quickly turn to success in a
matter of seconds.

Table
3
: John Keller's ACRS model applied


The addition of cultural sensitivity into the motivational framework by Wlodkowski (1999
) became what is
presented below:

Establish Inclusion

Done by creating a feeling of respect and connectivity between teachers and
students.

Develop Attitude

Done by ensuring personal relevance and choice.

Enhance Mearning

Done by creating challenging
experiences that include learner’s values and
p敲獰散瑩v敳e

Engender Competence

Done by creating an understanding that learners will learn about something
that they want to learn about.


As it is with any form of learning, the concept of motivation is key (Connolly & Stansfield, 2006). Katzeff,
i
s
reference
d in Conolly & Stansfield stating

that “motivation is a crucial factor for instructional design and for
learning to occur the learner m
ust be motivated to learn.” This brings a twofold ques
tion to the design of
the game and where the prime focus will be. This is because, “What if the user does not have the
motivation to learn? Is the user motivated to learn about how to complete the game
or more interested in
learning the material beside the game? Does it really matter or do these go hand in hand?”

To attempt answering the last question, one could refer to Malone and Lepper’s (1987 cited in Connolly &
Stansfield) framework regarding
intrin
sic motivation. The idea surrounding this topic
relates

with doing
something because it is interesting or enjoyable in some way (Connolly & Stansfield, 2006). The framework
consists of “four individual factors: challenge, fantasy, curiosity and control and

three interpersonal factors:
cooperation, competition and recognition.”


Challenge


-

Goals

-

Uncertain Outcomes

-

Performance Feedback



23



-

Self
-
esteem

-

This is referred to activities that provide an optimal level of challenge.



Curiosity


-

Sensory Curiosity

-

Cognitive Curiosity


Control


-

Contingency

-

Choice

-

Power


Fantasy


-

Emotional Aspects

-

Cognitive Aspects

Table
4
: Malone and Lepper’s Framework of Four Individual Factors

By stimulating these factors, “conditions such as:

satisfaction, desire, anger,

i
nterest, enjoyment, etc.” can
occur. The provoking and control of such emotions and their consequences is what computer games may
have the potential to benefit education (Becta, 2001 cited in Connolly & Stansfield, 2006). To
support this
area of research are the results obtained by Ricci et al.

(1996 as cited in Garris, Ahlers & Driskell, 2002 and
Connolly & Stansfield, 2006)
, which “found that incorporating game features into instruction increased
motivation and consequently
produced greater attention and retention.”

In addition, an empirical research
conducted by Chen, Shen, Ou and Liu (1998, as cited in Connolly & Stansfield, 2006) showed positive effects
on motivation and learning from computer games.

What can be gathered from the results of these studies is that if the conditions are stimulated in some
fashion from the mobile application,
it should provide
motivation and learning

with

a positive s
pin. And if
the game results are

boring, signs of de
-
mot
ivation will show case
,

giving rise to the possibility of a negative
impact on learning (Connolly & Stansfield, 2006). But what is it that holds the player together to continue
playing and thereby hopefully continue to learn?

Corbett (2006) stated that com
puter gaming in classrooms is one of the ways of stimulating a child’s
openness to accidental learning and intrinsic motivation for playing computer games. In other words, by
designing the game in a coherent and fun manner, the child may learn through play
, due to his/her interest
in continuing to play at it. However, as discussed above, the games as a package requires visuals and audio
as well. If these are not at a certain quality,
Connolly & Stansfield
(2006)

were concerned that “anything
significantly b
elow the quality of a commercial game may have a negative impact on learning as students
may not become fully engaged nor motivated to play the game, and eventually lose patienc
e with the
game’s limitations.”


Connolly and Stansfield

(2006)

built

simulatio
n game
prototype

in their research of learning and
also found
a potential problem regarding the issues of scalability and whether it can be “easily adapted to present


24



other types of problem scenarios and tasks”. These are
situations that this project will
also keep in mind,
when creating the game for a simple yet complicated purpose.

Another is
how

it is an accepted fact that
“games
-
based eLearning will not be for all learners and it is accepted that there may be issues surrounding
development costs.”

2.5

F
un

"Fun is about learning in a context where there is no pressure, and that is why games matter!"

(Koster,
2005)

The concept of fun has been discussed throughout many years, with Malone (1980as cited in Sim,
MacFarlane and Read, 2006)

being the pioneer of this study from the software point of view. It is presented
that many of the definitions surrounding fun is centred on emotions, where Carroll (2004 as cited in Sim,
MacFarlane and Read, 2006) says that “things are fun when they attra
ct, capture and hold our attention by
provoking new and unusual emotions in contexts that typically arouse none, or arouse emotions not
typically aroused in given context”. This definition, as said by Sim, Macfarlane and Read, leaves out the
aspect of plea
sure. In other words, just because something

is “engaging or captivating”

does not necessarily
have to be fun
, e.g. tests can be engaging but are not necessarily seen as fun (Dix, 2003 as cited in Sim,
MacFarlane and Read, 2006
)
.

2.6
Usability

Usability is

the extent to which a product can be used by specific users to achieve specified goals with
effectiveness, efficiency and satisfaction in a specified context of use (ISO, 1998 as cited in Sim, MacFarlane
and Read, 2006). As this is a definition for usabil
ity for a general context, it seems very logical. But in order
to define usability in a “specified context”, we turn to Larillard (2002 as cited in Sim, MacFarlane and Read,
2006) who sees usability from a pedagogical perspective as one which is focused on

the user interface, the
design of the learning activities and the determination of whether learning objectives have been met.

The
user interface must then also be intuitive enough and not distract the user from achieving their objectives,
(Sim, Horton & S
trong, 2004 as cited in Sim, MacFarlane and Read, 2006).

3.0 Research Cases and Games

This section involves the collection of data from research made by others. It will present short summaries
of cases and lessons learnt and provide analyses to three exist
ing learning games. A section devoted to the
Arabic language will also be presented before providing an overall summary on the main decisions made
from the evaluated data.


3.1
Dyslexia

"Reading is the key to educational success and educational success is
the key to economic
success. A child who leaves school with poor reading skills is, in most cases, doomed to a life
of unemployment and underemployment." (Boyles, 2003)

This is a generalized statement written by Salynn Boyles

(2003)

from an article focusing on dyslexia in
children and the various brain activity patterns that exist between the various children. Why this is looked


25



upon as a starting
case for

the report is because people who live with dyslexia are often in a si
milar
si
tuation as those who have

never learned to read. Both are often able to speak a language or more but
have troubles reading
5
. Despite dyslexia often carrying the characteristics of being “marked by difficulty
processing language sounds that can lead to con
sequences ranging from problems in reading
comprehension to reduced reading and vocabulary skills,” (Boyles, 2003) this may not necessarily be the
case of those who are “just” illiterate. Thus in order to tackle this issue, we have chosen to investigate ho
w
dyslexia in some cases are treated, in order to gain inspiration for focus of implementation of our product.

The test conducted by Salynn Boyles (2003)

was

accomplished by the University of Washington, Seattle,
which measured the brain activation pattern
s between 10 children with dyslexia and 11 without. The
results showed that after twenty eight hours of comprehensive reading instruction, the brain activity
patterns were almost identical between the two groups, despite the large differences during the st
a
rt of
the test (Boyles, 2003). F
rom these results, although a rather small scale experiment, the report will assume
that reading practice will provide improvement.

“Reading proficiency depends on the resolution of these three problems
of reading
acquisition: availability,
consistency and granularity

(Rayner, Foorman, Perfetti, Pesetsky, & Seidenberg, 2001). The efficiency with
which these problems can be solved seems to vary across languages and, we argue, should predict reading
acquisition in dif
ferent languages.” (Ziegler & Goswani, 2005)

These three problems are displayed and
explained on the following page.


Figure
3
: Schematic depiction of the three main problems of reading acquisition: availability, consistency and g
ranularity (Figure
1 from Ziegler & Goswani, 2005, p. 4)




5

Although there are multiple forms of dyslexia, which will cause variations in performance.



26




Availability

This problem reflects the fact that not all phonological units are consciously (explicitly)
accessible prior to reading. Thus connecting orthographic units to phonological units
that ar
e not yet readily available requires further cognitive development.

Consistency

This problem reflects the fact that some orthographic units have multiple pronunciations
and that some phonological units have multiple spellings
(Glushko, 1979; Seidenberg &
McClelland, 1989; Ziegler, Stone, & Jacobs, 1997)
.

Granularity

This problem reflects the fact that there are many more orthographic units to learn when
access to the phonological system is based on bigger grain sizes as opposed to smaller
grain sizes,
i.e. there are more words than there are syllables, more syllables than there
are rimes, more rimes than there are graphemes, and more graphemes than there are
letters.

Table
5
: Schematic depiction of three main problems constructe
d from (Ziegler & Goswani, 2005)

Ziegler & Goswani's research suggests that

the most accessible phonological units for the truly beginning
reader are the larger units (e.g., whole words, syllables, onsets, and onset

vowel or body units, rimes).”
And

d
epe
nding on the simplicity of the phonological structure of a given language or the degree of direct
training in phoneme awareness provided, as the child learns letters the child discovers and isolates
phonemes.” (Ziegler & Goswani, 2005)

“As the learning of
grapheme

phoneme mappings progresses, graphemic knowledge in turn promotes the
development and refinement of phonemic awareness” (Ziegler & Goswani, 2005).

The research by Ziegler and Goswani above highlights how sound and the reading of letters are
inter
related;

how it affects the process of learning to read.

This affects how the mini games will be
designed as children have not been exposed to the necessary phonemes as adults have throughout their
lives. This creates a different focus and challenge in the

design of the game.

And depending on the target
and age group, the game will have to consider these variables.

3.2
Research on Fun and Usability in Learning Softwa
re


(Sim, MacFarlane, Read, 2006)

Gavin Sim, Stuart MacFarlane and Janet Read conducted an
empirical study of fun, usability and learning in
educational software in 2006, with twenty five children aged 7 and 8 from an English primary school. Their
findings summed up to learning not being correlated with fun or usability but that “observed fun an
d
observed usability were correlated, and that children of this age appeared to be able to differentiate
between constructs used to describe software quality.”

The authors had however difficulties in measuring the learning effect of educational software de
signed for
the children. And the fact that the experiment only lasted for a short duration of time also meant that it is
difficult to compare different products within that frame of time. Creating longer experiments would also
not be feasible either as the
re may/will be other variables that come into play, such as external factors that
may contribute to the children’s learning. Thus
,

unless the children are tracked constantly and
the
variations are accounted for, it will give rise to inconsistent statistica
l data.



27



One of the key results they found was also that the educational software that was linear and had no games
was considered least fun by the children.

3.3 Researchers’ Opinion on Educational Games (Edutainment)

The purpose of this section is to invest
igate into areas of learning
and some opinions about educational
games
that
the authors of this project

have not yet understood or am not sure whether or not has been
“proven”. The reason for doing this is because in order to create an educational game, ha
v
ing

some
fundamental insight into the area of how people learn

can only be advantageous
. Thereby possibly also
how games have attempted to tackle thi
s area in teaching individuals.

Many games throughout the years that have been known to be in the form of
“edutainment” or
educational games have been criticized for not having carried out any form of background research into the