Purpose: This study uses a critically acclaimed digital game as an instructional tool to explore the role of emotional design elements on psychological flow and perceived learning. Design/methodology/approach: The authors employ transportation theory to generate a set of antecedents of psychological flow and the theory of flow to connect the gaming experience to positive learning outcomes. The authors investigate the subjective learning experience of players with the use of a psychometric survey, and the authors employ structural equation modelling (SEM) to unearth the direct as well as the indirect effects amongst narrative, aesthetics, flow and learning outcomes. Findings: The findings of this study demonstrate that narrative and aesthetics in serious games positively influence the perceived learning by facilitating a state of psychological flow. Research limitations/implications: This study contributes to better understanding and theorizing the role of narrative and aesthetics on learning outcomes in the context of serious games. Practical implications: The findings of this study bear valuable implications for the design of serious games as they highlight the importance of elements often disregarded as not directly related to the learning process and are typically absent from the design of serious games. Originality/value: Prior studies have identified aesthetics and narratives as design elements that contribute to the perceived enjoyment of a game; this study empirically investigates the role of narratives and aesthetics in enhancing perceived learning through psychological flow.

Aesthetics, Flow, Game elements, Narrative, Perceived learning, Serious games
dx.doi.org/10.1108/ITP-08-2019-0435, hdl.handle.net/1765/132621
Information Technology and People
Erasmus University Rotterdam

Alexiou, A, Schippers, M.C, Oshri, I, & Angelopoulos, S. (Spyros). (2020). Narrative and aesthetics as antecedents of perceived learning in serious games. Information Technology and People. doi:10.1108/ITP-08-2019-0435