Serious Games for Learning

A model and reference architecture for efficient game development

The objective of this research is to support the design and development of digital educational serious games (SGs), by helping reduce the costs associated with SG development, while fulfilling the game’s educational and entertainment goals. For that end, both the conceptual and the technical complexities of producing educational SGs are addressed. A theoretical analysis is performed to determine how a game realizes its educational and entertainment objectives through its concrete mechanics.

A conceptual model, called Activity Theory-based Model for Serious Games (ATMSG), is presented. The ATMSG fills a gap that previous models, frameworks and methodologies for SG analysis and design do not cover, namely the understanding of how high-level game requirements, concerning both educational and entertainment goals, can be concretely satisfied in a SG, down to the game mechanics level. The model is then used in the definition of a software reference architecture called Service-Oriented Reference Architecture for Serious Games (SORASG), based on the architectural pattern of Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA).

The architecture provides a template solution to support SG software development, defining common elements among different SGs of different genres and topics that can be incorporated in a modular fashion into game architectures. The results suggest that the proposed methodology and tools (i.e., ATMSG identification of components, and their implementation and integration as services) can offer a valuable solution to reduce costs and foment quality SG development.


This research project is a collaborative effort between the University of Genoa (IT) and Eindhoven University of Technology, providing reference material for a future of service oriented serious game creation.


Erasmus Mundus Joint Doctorate (EMJD) in Interactive and Cognitive Environments (ICE)), which is funded via the Education, Audiovisual and Culture Executive Agency (EACEA) of the European Commission under EMJD ICE FPA nº 2010-0012.

Related Publications

Vahdat, M., Carvalho, M. B., Funk, M., Rauterberg, M., Hu, J., & Anguita, D. (2016, September). Learning analytics for a puzzle game to discover the puzzle-solving tactics of players. In European Conference on Technology Enhanced Learning (pp. 673-677). Springer International Publishing.  

Carvalho, M. B., Hu, J., Bellotti, F., De Gloria, A., & Rauterberg, M. (2015, September). Tutorial: Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA) Development for Serious Games. In International Conference on Entertainment Computing (pp. 578-580). Springer International Publishing.  

Hauge, J. M. B., Stănescu, I. A., Carvalho, M. B., Stefan, A., Banica, M., & Lim, T. (2015, August). Integrating Gamification in Mechanical Engineering Systems to Support Knowledge Processes. In ASME 2015 International Design Engineering Technical Conferences and Computers and Information in Engineering Conference  

Carvalho, M. B., Bellotti, F., Hu, J., Hauge, J. B., Berta, R., De Gloria, A., & Rauterberg, M. (2015, July). Towards a Service-Oriented Architecture framework for educational serious games. In Advanced Learning Technologies (ICALT), 2015 IEEE 15th International Conference on (pp. 147-151). IEEE.  

Carvalho, M. B., Bellotti, F., Berta, R., De Gloria, A., Sedano, C. I., Hauge, J. B., ... & Rauterberg, M. (2015). An activity theory-based model for serious games analysis and conceptual design. Computers & education, 87, 166-181.  

Hauge, J. B., Stanescu, I. A., Stefan, A., Carvalho, M. B., Lim, T., Louchart, S., & Arnab, S. (2015, April). SERIOUS GAME MECHANICS AND OPPORTUNITIES FOR REUSE. In The International Scientific Conference eLearning and Software for Education (Vol. 2, p. 19).  

Carvalho, M. B., Bellotti, F., Berta, R., De Gloria, A., Gazzarata, G., Hu, J., & Kickmeier-Rust, M. (2015). A case study on service-oriented architecture for serious games. Entertainment Computing, 6, 1-10.  

Lim, T., Louchart, S., Suttie, N., Hauge, J. B., Stanescu, I. A., Ortiz, I. M., ... & Ott, M. (2014, April). Narrative serious game mechanics (NSGM)–insights into the narrative-pedagogical mechanism. In International Conference on Serious Games (pp. 23-34). Springer International Publishing. 

Lim, T., Louchart, S., Suttie, N., Hauge, J. B., Earp, J., Ott, M., ... & Carvalho, M. (2014, July). Serious game mechanics, workshop on the ludo-pedagogical mechanism. In International Conference on Games and Learning Alliance (pp. 174-183). Springer International Publishing. 

Arnab, S., Lim, T., Carvalho, M. B., Bellotti, F., Freitas, S., Louchart, S., ... & De Gloria, A. (2015). Mapping learning and game mechanics for serious games analysis. British Journal of Educational Technology, 46(2), 391-411.  

Sedano, C. I., Carvalho, M. B., Secco, N., & Longstreet, C. S. (2013, May). Collaborative and cooperative games: Facts and assumptions. In Collaboration Technologies and Systems (CTS), 2013 International Conference on (pp. 370-376). IEEE.  

Baalsrud Hauge, J., Bellotti, F., Berta, R., Brandao Carvalho, M., De Gloria, A., Lavagnino, E., ... & Ott, M. (2013). Field assessment of serious games for entrepreneurship in higher education.  

Hauge, J. B., Bellotti, F., Nadolski, R., Kickmeier-Rust, M., Berta, R., & Carvalho, M. (2013, January). Deploying Serious Games for Management in Higher Education: lessons learned and good practices. In European Conference on Games Based Learning (p. 225). Academic Conferences International Limited.