Aligning Game Narrative and Learning Outcomes

Jeff Brenneman

NOTE: This paper was selected by the program committee as a Meaningful Play 2022 Top Paper.


Research on narrative in game-based learning (GBL) is barely in its infancy (Dickey, 2019), but there is an opportunity to gain a foothold on understanding how game narrative can be designed to support learning. In this paper, we will construct an evidence-centered design (ECD; Mislevy et al., 2003) model of narrative in GBL, first by unpacking theoretical foundations of Interactive Digital Narrative (Koenitz, 2015), then aligning those theoretical foundations with core design elements of game narrative and an existing narrative design model rooted in cognitive narratology (Dubbelman, 2021). This will be followed by a discussion of how narrative mechanics can support learning, from the perspective of the learning sciences. We will then integrate these theoretical, design, and learning foundations into a proposed ECD model that aligns narrative mechanics with learning objectives. Finally, we will conclude with some considerations for future research on narrative in GBL.