Leveling Up: Game Enjoyment Threshold Model and Player Feedback on the Design of a Serious Game

Hua Wang, Marientina Gotsis, Maryalice Jordan-Marsh, Donna Spruijt-Metz and Thomas Valente


With the advent of gaming technologies, more visibly successful applications, the
increase of evidence on game effectiveness, and accumulated knowledge about game design principles and strategies, an emerging field of "serious games" is gaining momentum (Sawyer, 2009; Lieberman, 2009). Serious games are games developed with serious content or purposes beyond pure entertainment, such as games for learning, training, health promotion, and social change (Michael & Chen, 2005; Ritterfeld, Cody, & Vorderer, 2009). Although ever since the early days, game designers and developers have been working with experts from various disciplines and create meaningful game applications, it has been a great challenge to make serious games as seriously fun and engaging as commercially successful games (Shen, Wang, & Ritterfeld, 2009). In this paper, we first provide a brief review of theoretical efforts in understanding game enjoyment and the proposal of a game enjoyment threshold model. We then report how this model was applied in the feasibility study of a serious game. The empirical data were collected through semi-structured in-depth interviews and the transcripts were subsequently content coded in Atlas ti. Our empirical findings support the general framework of the threshold model and offer nuanced insights into the factors that influence gamers' play experience.