Effects of fantasy and fantasy proneness on learning and engagement in a 3D educational game
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Fantasies are defined as byproducts of human imagination and mental activities to internalize unusual external objective stimulus. In the literature, utilization of fantasy in educational settings promoted intellectual and emotional improvements. However, the research implications from these fantasy research studies are mostly limited to traditional game design and classroom teaching. There are two research purposes in this study. The first is to examine how different types of fantasy and student fantasy proneness influence science learning, factual information acquisition, and game engagement in a 3D educational game environment called “Alien Rescue.” To accomplish this purpose, this research investigated the effects of fantasy type and fantasy proneness on science learning, factual information of alien characters, and game engagement. The second purpose of this study is to investigate student’s perception of the varying types of fantasy. To accomplish the second purpose of the study, this research inquired how student identified each type of fantasy and related his or her past experience to the embodied characteristics in alien characters. The participants of the study were 103 students who used Alien Rescue in four classes as their science curriculum for 10 days. The students in two classes were assigned to a treatment group using models with portrayal fantasy and the students in two classes were assigned to the other treatment group using models with creative fantasy. Employing mixed methods, this study analyzed both quantitative and qualitative data such as surveys and student interviews. The results in the quantitative part of the study showed that portrayal fantasy was effective for science learning, alien information acquisition, and game engagement. Specifically, the students who used portrayal fantasy models showed higher improvement of science knowledge and scored better on both alien information acquisition and game engagement. High fantasy proneness group also showed better game engagement. The finding with qualitative data showed that the students pointed out eight elements in identifying 3D fantasy objects, and those elements were relevant to the design elements that the researcher included in the 3D modeling procedure. The students also showed a perception pattern that they understood 3D game characters based upon previous experience regardless of fantasy type. The findings suggested that portrayal fantasy was effective in enhancing content learning, factual information acquisition, and engagement in educational games because the familiarity of the fantasy elements makes the identification of the fantasy characters easier and faster. However, too deep involvement in fantasy resulted in ineffective and inefficient learning outcomes. The findings also suggested that eight components of 3D models were essential elements in identifying fantasy game characters by learners as well as designing the 3D characters by game designers.
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