Research — Embodied Educational Game Design

The notion of embodiment stems from the concept that concept that cognition does not only occur in the mind but is also supported by bodily activity; situated in and interacting with our physical and social environment. However, due to a broad conceptual usage of the term across a diverse variety of research domains, designs utilizing an “embodied” approach often result in seemingly unrelated systems (e.g., enacting concepts by moving through a space vs. manipulating tangible objects in order to learn). This is especially problematic with respect to the creation of educational technologies such as games, where the black box of design decisions around embodiment can drastically impact efficacy and learning outcomes. To address these issues, this work created a theoretical design framework to capture the nuances of differing forms of physical embodiment and their application to educational games (see image above for the different forms of physical embodiement in the design framework).

This work ties directly into and informs my other project: Bots & (Main)Frames. The design framework has been utilized there to design and build different versions of Bots & (Main)Frames to compare social, emotional, and learning outcomes of employing embodiment.

Related Publications

Book Chapters

  • In Press: Edward F. Melcer and Katherine Isbister. (2020). “Learning with the Body: A Design Framework for Embodied Learning Games and Simulations”. In Software Engineering Perspectives in Computer Game Development. CRC Press, Taylor & Francis Group.

Peer Reviewed Conference and Journal Publications

Doctoral Consortium Papers

Workshop Papers

  • Edward F. Melcer, and Katherine Isbister. (2016). "Bridging the Physical Divide: A Design Framework for Embodied Learning Systems". In Move to be Moved Workshop. CHI '16, San Jose, CA. N.p.