Skip to main content

Essential features of serious games design: A critical review and game pedagogic planner





Project objectives

The study aims to provide guidance on design of serious games that reflects the principles underpinning learning design. To achieve this, a serious games design planner will be proposed for helping university teachers to design learning activities instantiated within games.   

Serious games design is a relatively new discipline that couples learning design with game features. Design for serious games involve the creation of learning activities that may use the whole game or entail a gaming element (e.g. leader boards, virtual currencies, in-game hints) for the purpose of transforming the student’s learning experience.

While arguments against serious games have centred upon a lack of empirical evidence in support of their efficacy, there are studies in UK and US respectively that have demonstrated positive results in large sample groups. However, current research evidence stresses the lack of commonly accepted appropriate pedagogical frameworks to integrate games in curricula and suggest that an inclusive model that takes into account pedagogy and teaching strategy, aligned to game activity and assessment is necessary for balancing play features with pedagogical aspects. 

Research impact

The main impact of the research study is in terms of enhancing current ways of conceptualising and designing serious games in terms of providing a pedagogical planner for helping practitioners, teachers and researchers alike to design, implement, share and re-use their own designs.

The overarching research questions the study aims to address are:

  1. How the use of games for teaching and learning is conceptualised, theorised, modelled and researched? 
  2. What are the essential features for designing serious games?
  3. What support strategies are used to help students to use serious games productively in Higher Education? 
  4. How academics may be supported to design, share and re-use game-based learning activities inspired by best practice principles and examples? 

What issues and implications arise from serious games design and use, facilitation and the development of academic practice?

For more information, please contact Dr Petros Lameras (

 Queen’s Award for Enterprise Logo
University of the year shortlisted
QS Five Star Rating 2023