An Empirical Comparison of a Video Game, Digital Video, and a Printed Text for Recall, Comprehension and Solving a STEM Word Problem.

Brock Dubbels

NOTE: This paper was selected by the program committee as a Meaningful Play 2014 Top Paper. It has been submitted to the Meaningful Play 2014 Special Issue of the International Journal of Gaming and Computer-Mediated Simulations (IJGCMS). Due to the copyright requirements of the journal, only the abstract is available in the conference proceedings.


When compared to a digital video, or a printed text, a video game should be more considerate for promoting learning, requiring much less cognitive processing for recall comprehension, and problem solving through distributing cognition. Complexity cannot be designed out of a task, but it can be off-loaded until the user is capable of taking on the entirety of the task. By design, a video game off-loads complexity in comprehension by providing multimodal representation, which diminishes the need for visualization strategies and prior knowledge. It may also structure incremental learning through practice, feedback, and rehearsal—activities traditionally offered by a teacher in one-on-one training for the development of metacognition and the development of learning strategies. In this study, a sample of 132 students was randomly assigned to one of three media conditions, controlled for interaction and feedback: video game > video > print (?=.75). Each participant was pretested for prior knowledge, working memory, comprehension and reading ability, and media preference. Results indicate that the video game was much more effective for identification of causal relationships between narrative events, along with statistical significance in improved recall, comprehension, problem solving through analysis provided from protocol analysis (walkthrough of CNA), multiple choice questions, and a word problem.