|dc.description.translatedabstract||User experience is a relatively new field within the larger scope of Human Computer Interaction (HCI). It proposes a more holistic view of the user’s experience when using a product than is usually taken in the evaluation of usability. User experience introduces new concepts to the quality of software like fun, beauty and pleasure.
Using interactive learning environments has become increasingly imperative nowadays. Applications such as asynchronous and synchronous e-learning, virtual worlds, digital games, etc are used and adopted in the educational process with encouraging results. However, to further establish them, more in-depth evaluation of the experience gained by users of such applications is required. Particularly useful will be the establishment of a method focused on the issues and the specifics of these applications. Moreover, assessments of similar relevance can be made for applications in which users have a learning experience over time. The concept of user experience is highly dynamic and sensitive to time. This is something that is missing from the literature as most assessments involve short-interaction studies and so the ratings do not attribute the changes in various dimensions to the user experience based on time.
The aim of this paper is to present an evaluation method of user experience in three-dimensional virtual learning environments such as digital games. Emphasis is given to applications that are used in a long term period.
Evaluations of user experience have been discussed recently in several publications. However, the measuring of gaming experiences is not the same as evaluating applications in software industry. Productivity and gaming applications clearly have very different goals and it is not sufficient to focus exclusively on conventional usability-related metrics. Since games are played for the experience, they are more subjective and more ill-defined, and thus trickier to study and understand with traditional usability methods that are typically applied in the field of Human-Computer Interaction (HCI).
On another note, user oriented research is essential to a game production because the perceived quality of a game is directly related to UX. Game evaluation methods research focuses on usability and user experience nowadays. The focus on the experience of digital games results the challenge of time. The temporal dimension of gamer experience is linked to psychological experience concepts such as flow, immersion or presence. Time also influences learning which is central to gaming.
The main key research questions that this article addresses are:
What are the factors that determine the user experience in 3D virtual learning environments/serious games?
What is the appropriate conceptual framework for this evaluation?
What is the appropriate method for evaluating user experience in such environments for long-term evaluation?
Methodologically, beyond the literature review, basic tools were interviews and focus groups with designers of such application to identify factors of user experience. The method we used relied upon a conceptual framework that combines dimension/factors and associates them with the affective learning dimensions which is intrinsic motivation to learn. In order to describe, define and measure long term user experience in such environments, the concepts such as Flow, Presence, Satisfaction and Usability have been adopted and studied.
Finally an empirical study of the effectiveness of the proposed method in real situations is demonstrated. The methodology used in our study combines experimental design with a survey method.
The article is organized as follows:
A brief review on three-dimensional learning digital games and on theoretical framework used to investigate digital games and gamers.
Proposal of the research model and description of the research method.
Results of empirical tests, interviews and the new evaluation method.
Conclusions, implications and limitations for practitioners and researchers.
The purpose of this research is to develop and empirically test a new evaluation method for long-term user experience of digital learning games, its conceptual model and the empirical results.||el_GR