Feeling right about how you play: the effects of regulatory fit in games for learning

Yu-Hao Lee, Carrie Heeter, Brian Magerko and Ben Medler

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.


Games for learning are often assigned to learners and not played voluntarily. Therefore a problem for educators is how make designs that motivate learners in these assigned conditions. This study examines the influence of regulatory fit experience on player motivations to play and to learning aspects of the game. The regulatory fit theory posits that when instructions matches the learners' promotion or prevention motivational systems, learners will experience a regulatory fit which will make them "feel right" about the current task. Our findings support the regulatory fit theory. When learners experience regulatory fit, they played the game for 26% more time than learners who did not experience regulatory fit. Learners in regulatory fit conditions also displayed more learning-related behaviors such as spending more time on learning feedback. Positive feedback seems to motivate promotion oriented learners; however negative feedback did not de-motivate prevention oriented learners as theory predicted.