Replay Penalties in Cognitive Games

Matthew W. Easterday, I. Yelee Jo

Replay penalties that punish players by making them repeat progress are ubiquitous in video games yet noticeably absent from tutors, creating a dilemma for designers seeking to combine games and tutors to maximize interest and learning. On the one hand, replay penalties can be frustrating and waste instructional time, on the other, they may increase excitement and prevent gaming the system. This study tested the effects of replay penalties on learning and interest. In a randomized, controlled experiment with a two-group, between subjects design, 100 University students played two versions of Policy World, an educational game for teaching policy argument, with and without penalties that forced students to replay parts of the game. Results showed that replay penalties decreased learning and interest. These findings suggest a minimize penalties principle for designing cognitive games.

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