Once More with Feeling: Game Design Patterns for Affective Learning

Claire Dormann, Max Neuvians and Jennifer Whitson

NOTE: This paper was selected by the program committee as a Meaningful Play 2008 Top Paper. It has been submitted to the Meaningful Play 2012 Special Issue of the Journal of Games and Culture. Due to the copyright requirements of the journal, only the abstract is available in the conference proceedings.


This paper addresses how computer games can be designed for learning in the affective domain. We propose conceptual tools in the form of game patterns to support their design. Our studies of how emotions are embedded in games and how games can sustain affective learning involve the observation of game-play and identification of recurring design elements that we identify as patterns. We then describe and discuss several patterns related to understanding emotions, embodiment and affective representation as well as socio-emotional interactions, which are essential components of affective learning. AVATAR DISPLAY OF HUMAN FRAILTY describes the inclusion of less than optimal physical traits in an avatar while NPC'S WITH EMOTIONAL MASKS, is a character that displays one kind of emotion when they are secretly feeling another. To conclude, we discuss the development of a taxonomy of affective patterns to sustain socio-emotional learning. We hope to stimulate the development of more human-oriented games and novel educational games in this domain.