Cognitive walkthrough for learning through game mechanics

David Farrell, David Moffat

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

5 Citations (Scopus)


Whilst widely advocated, Games Based Learning (GBL) is still an unproven discipline. Results vary and there is no consensus for how best to teach a set of learning objectives using games. Designers may base their approach on reasonable pedagogical principles but the process of design is still driven largely by intuition and greater resembles craft than science. Humans are notoriously poor at unsupported methodical thinking and relying so much on intuition carries great risk in GBL design. Cognitive Walkthrough (CW) is a technique that improves our ability to predict how a user will understand an interaction. Whilst CW is long established in user-interface design, it should be considered a general purpose technique for crafting experiences where a designer must predict the general thinking process of a user. Extending CW to GBL can help designers expose and question their implicit assumptions and can be used during design to lower risk or during evaluation to understand results. Extensions of CW should map to the GBL pedagogical approach chosen to provide the most cognitive support. We present an extension of Cognitive Walkthrough for Learning Through Game Mechanics and apply it to the previously evaluated e-Bug Platform game to understand why one section achieved significant knowledge change and another did not. We found each section to assume several steps of logical understanding by users but those in the unsuccessful section were unreasonable assumptions. The new technique described in this paper explains hitherto puzzling results and identifies the strengths and weaknesses of game mechanics' contributions to learning.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 7th European Conference on Games-Based Learning
PublisherAcademic Conferences and Publishing International Limited
Number of pages9
ISBN (Print)9781629931395
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2013
Event7th European Conference on Games Based Learning - Porto, Portugal
Duration: 3 Oct 20134 Oct 2013

Publication series

Name7th European Conference on Games Based Learning, ECGBL 2013


Conference7th European Conference on Games Based Learning
Abbreviated titleECGBL 2013


  • cognitive walkthrough
  • constructive alignment
  • game design
  • game mechanics
  • games based learning
  • serious games


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