Intragroup cooperation and intergroup competition in Serious Games

In the context of the 20th European Conference on Information Systems organized by ESADE, Dr. Margarida Romero has presented the last study of the Network of Excellence Games and Learning Alliance in Serious Games. The study aims to characterise game dynamics in the adoption of multi-player Serious Games.

Could multi-player Serious Games dynamics enhance collaborative learning through a relation of positive interdependence ?

At the same time, could multi-player Serious Games maintain a certain level of competition for ensuring multi-player GBL gameplay ?

Serious Games (SG), also called computer-based games or digital games is a form of electronic games intended for educational purposes that support student-centered learning. In digital GBL, educators “use digital games with serious goals (i.e. educational objectives) as tools that support learning processes in a significant way” (Sica, Delli Veneri, & Miglino, 2011, p. 108). Serious games are designed so as to achieve a balance between fun and educational value (Zyda, 2005). In the context of computer-based GBL, a distinction should be made considering the number of players engaged in the gameplay.

Digital GBL environments can either expect interaction on the part of an individual player or prescribe multiplayer interaction. When the latter are used with the pedagogical intention to promote collaborative learning between players, we can say that the approach being adopted is collaborative GBL. Collaborative GBL involves more than one player in gameplay with the pedagogical intention to promote cooperative learning between those engaged in the game. Following Dickey (2007), collaborative games play an important role as engaging learning environments. Considering engagement fostered through multi-player games and the growing development of collaborative learning at all educational levels in recent decades, this study focuses on the use of digital multi-player GBL and the cooperation and competition mechanisms for ensuring its effectiveness for achieving educational objectives. In this investigation of multi-player GBL, the study of Romero and colleagues (2012) starts by characterising collaborative learning in general and multi-player GBL dynamics specifically, considering those dynamics that could promote collaborative learning and student engagement. The study focus on two multi-player GBL scenarios: the multi-player game with interpersonal competition and the multi-player game with intergroup competition.

Figure 1. Multiplayer game with interindividual competition.

Figure 2. Multiplayer game with intragroup cooperation and intergroup competition.

Romero, M., Usart, M., Ott, M., Earp, J., de Freitas, S., & Arnab, S. (2012). Learning through playing for or against each other? Promoting collaborative learning in digital game based learning. 20th European Conference on Information Systems, June 10-13, ESADE, Barcelona.

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2 Respostes a “Intragroup cooperation and intergroup competition in Serious Games”

  1. Ben says:

    Why are digital games designed and used for educational purposes “serious” while non-digital games so designed and used are not?

    There are a variety of reasons economic, social, and pedagogical why tabletop games (eg. board and card games) are at least comparable to digital games’ educational value. Unfortunately, it seems as if the educational play industry has been totally beguiled by computer technology almost to the point of fetishization.

    But yes, intergroup cooperation and intragroup competition has been known to promote education and social learning in non-digital contexts for some time. Finding that this doesn’t hold for digital media would have been surprising.

  2. Dear Ben,

    Many thanks for your comment on the intergroup cooperation and intragroup competition dynamics in serious games.

    I share your questioning of the difference between non-digital games and SG. One of the objectives of the Network of Excellence (NoE FP7) Games and Learning Alliance ( is being to contribute to discuss the appropriateness of the term SG. You are welcome to join the discussion on

    With kindest regards,

    Margarida Romero, Ph.D.
    Associate Director of E-learning

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