Archive for October, 2008

Articles on affective responses to video games

There are a lot of interesting article summaries over at vgresearcher.  Here is one that is particularly relevant to our project: “Affective response to video games: effects of personality, gender and in-game reinforcement (Chumbley & Griffiths, 2006)”

The abstract includes:  ‘The implications of the impact of game-play on affect are discussed with reference to the concepts of “addiction” and “aggression.”  This would be a good article for our lab to read.   I’ve put this on our To get  list, to get from interlibrary loan…. Hm, never mind!  BU subscribes to Ebscohost and I got the full text).

The authors found:


Of particular interest is the finding that, by increasing the ratio of negative to positive reinforcement, participants experienced more frustration and less excitement. In-game reinforcement characteristics were also found to have an effect on the game’s “playa-ability.” An increase in the positive reinforcement was associated with a higher propensity to continue and return to play and vice versa.

— Prof. C-H


David Perry on Video Games

Here’s a TED talk on video games. Perry shows some good examples of how various video game genres have evolved over time (and notice how educational games were not included). He also says that one of the most pervasive topics in video game creation is emotionality: “Can a video game make you cry? These are the kind of topics we care about”. Not sure if I would recommend watching the second half, though. It just shows a student film project on video games and I didn’t find it very interesting. – jimmy

New Journal: Games & Culture

Just ran across this journal online. BU doesn’t have access, but we should get some ILLs if there are any articles that look interesting. Some related topics that are covered:

  • What makes a game fun/addicting?
  • Games and learning


Infant-directed speech facilitates lexical learning in adults hearing Chinese: implications for language acquisition

Golinkoff, R.M. & Alioto, A. (1995). Infant-directed speech facilitates lexical learning in adults hearing Chinese: implications for language acquisition. J Child Lang, 22, 703-720.

Characteristics and functions of ID speech (compared to ADS)

  • slower speech rate
  • extended frequency rage
  • higher overal fundamental frequency
  • repeated pitch contours
  • marked intensity shiefts
  • longer pauses
  • simplified vocab
  • lengthened vowels

Advantages of CDS

  • intonational highlighting increases perceptual salience (Bock & Mazzella, 1983)
  • seems to communicate positive affect (smiles from young infants are more effectively elicited by high-pitched human voice than by visual or other auditory stimuli – Wolf, 1963)
  • increases eye-gaze in children (Santarcangelo & Dyer, 1988)
  • generates greater attentiveness (Werker & McLeod, 1989)
  • helps early word learning when highlighted word is at the end of a sentence due to both quality of input and recency effect (Fernald & Mazzie, 1991)

Exp 1: Can lexical learning (in foreign lang) for adults be facilitated by IDS?

  • Monolingual Eng speakers assigned to either ID group or AD group
  • Subjs looked at slides of common objects and hear an audio naming and talking about the objects in Chinese. Subjs asked to look at slide and focus on what is being siad.
  • Test: Given 10 numbered Chinese words with 3 choices of English words to choose from. Then heard a speaker name those words in ADS and had to choose the correct Eng equivalent.
  • Results: ID group (~65%) > AD group (~40% correct)

Exp 2: Does IDS help when placed in any part of the sentence or only in the final position?

  • Subjs divided into 2 groups: target word medial and target word final (position)
  • Same procedures as Exp 1
  • Results: There was an interaction between IDS and sentence position. That is, IDS only had an effect on lexical learning when the target word was in the utterance-final position.
  • IDS final > ADS final=IDS media


Language Learner Behaviour in a Virtual Environment

Roed, J. (2003). Language learner behaviour in a virtual environment. Computer Assisted Language Learning, 16, 155-172.

Goal of study: To create guidelines for students and teachers of less widely taught languages on how to create a virtual language department


  1. Can’t just transfer classroom practices to a virtual world. To be effective, must have a different structure and different set of contents.
  2. People’s online behavior can be different compared to real life. After learning the language from the game, can this knowledge be transferred to understanding in real life?
  3. People are less inhibited when communicating via computer than in face-to-face situation. “A shield from being on-stage”
  4. Teachers report online discussions to be more active than in-class discussions.
  5. Factors that affect students not speaking out in classroom: not feeling attractive & people ignoring your comments


1.  There are several strategies we can use to learn language. The most anxiety-provoking/uncomfortable, yet rated as most effective are:

  • start L2 conversation
  • finding the courage to speak when afraid
  • actively look for conversation
  • find ways to use L2
  • ask questions in L2

2. Self-awareness hinders language learning.

Duval and Wickland’s 2-component self-awareness model (1972):

Private self-awareness (awareness of individual motives and goals) – Desire to learn L2 so they can pass exams and communicate with native speakers

Public self-awareness (awareness of possibility of being assessed) – even though students can be happy with their level of proficiency, when starting to communicate, they are open to a medley of humiliations

3. Student anxiety reduced when question is e-mailed. And when they get a response, they can take as much time as they want to understand the answer correctly BEFORE THEY RESPOND.

A problem here might be that virtual language learning may not accurately reflect real life.

Look up: How much time do anxiety patients get to respond in video games to treat phobias?

4. Disinhibition – any behavior characterized by apparent reduction in concerns for self-presentation and judgment of others. The internet generates disinhibition due to low physical distance and low social presence

The study

  • There was a virtual “party at Buckingham Palace” to celebrate the 50th jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II. The grounds were actually a chat room in WebCT.
  • Students were sitting in the same room, task was undemanding so all students could participate regardless of level of proficiency.
  • Each student was given the identity of someone famous and the task was to interview each other and find out the identities of their fellow guests.
  • Problem with webct = took time to load stuff on screen when network was loaded = frustration. The advantage of a non-networked video game is no server lag.

Lag = time it takes from pressing return key and until message shows up on chatter’s screen. Lag of 2-3 seconds is acceptable to most. Drastic irritation when it goes up to 8-9 seconds or more.

In real life, an 8-9s delay might mean that the person is thinking of an answer but you could still infer what’s going on from body language and context. but when u can’t see those things using a chatroom, you think you’re being ignored.



  1. no accents to distract
  2. no time pressure and no interruptions from teachers/classmates (very important issues for people with anxiety)
  3. no immediate reactions such as giggles or eyebrow raises
  4. students that would never display active participation in classroom are more likely to participate online (good for shy students)


  1. Advanced students will sometimes get bored with other students.
  2. Lag
  3. Latecomers are seldom acknowledged.
  4. Anonymity can be bad for extroverts who want attention, but extroverts are better language learners anyway.
  5. Students can’t choose to communicate entirely by e-mail or in chat for the rest of their lives, although virtual environments can act as scaffolding of confidence.


Mystery Game Lit Search

I’ve found the full text PDF files for these:

Wood, J.J. (1999). Misterio en Toluca:  An Internet Mystery Game. Hispania, 82(2), 284-286.


Abstract: Misterio en Toluca: An Internet Mystery Game, from Heinle & Heinle, is an interactive CD-ROM mystery role-play game for intermediate students of Spanish that users play over the Internet entirely in Spanish. This program is easy to use, and its mystery normally takes ten weeks to solve. Innovative, creative, and original, it should motivate students to improve their Spanish language proficiency.


Trotter, A. (2004). Digital Games Bring Entertainment Into Learning Realm. Education Week, 23(44), 8.


Abstract: Educational simulation designers believe that qualities of digital games may benefit middle and high school classrooms. Their aim is to create digital simulation games that can drench students in the complexities and colors of another place and time; provide them with experiences of living and working, leading, and solving mysteries; and foster learning during the fun. Examples of educational simulations are provided.

Can we find the full text version of this? 

Nuessel, F. (2006).  Language Games in Spanish.  Hispania, 89(1), 151-153.

Abstract: Easy to read and comprehend, La tienda de palabras, by Spanish author Jesus Marchamalo, is a fascinating novel that interweaves language games into an entertainingmystery. Suitable for use in an intermediate or bridge course in the Spanish curriculum, this book presents competitive, goal-defined, rule-governed, and engaging languagegames that can provide a source of fun and active participation in a Spanish class.


Virtual Reality in Language Learning

These articles mainly deal with text or chat-based VR worlds, and regard any voice input mechanisms as impractical or “high-end”.  Most of the articles I found also come from a pedagogical background, and don’t get into emotional reward.  Lots of Vygotski references to social aspects of learning.  After reviewing this stuff, I think we need to look for SPELL vs. CALL techniques (see acronym key below), since these involve spoken language.
Morton, H. & Jack, M.A. (2005). Scenario-Based Spoken Interaction with Virtual Agents. Computer Assisted Language Learning, 18(3), 171-191.
  • We should definitely look at the full-text version of this one, as it is very close to our idea.  It may not have the theoretical background of emotion reward, but it does involve a VR world and spoken interaction.  This SPELL approach is real-time and feedback focus is immediate and corrective.
Schwienhorst, K. (2002). The state of VR: A meta-analysis of virtual reality tools in second language acquisition. Computer Assisted Language Learning, 15(3), 221-239.
  • Goes into how learner partnerships w/in a virtual environment, learner autonomy, and automatic logging enhances educational power of VR gaming experience.  Exploration of high and low-end VR tools in L2 acquisition. Places a lot of emphasis on learner-learner interaction.

Roed, J. (2003). Language Learner Behaviour in a Virtual Environment. Computer Assisted Language Learning, 16(2-3), 155-172.

  • When communicating online, people show fewer inhibitions, display less social anxiety, and reduce their public self-awareness. Based on these findings, it seems that a virtual learning environment may constitute a more relaxed and stress free atmosphere than a classroom.

Peterson, M. (2006). Learner Interaction Management in an Avatar and Chat-based Virtual World. Computer Assisted Language Learning, 19(1), 79-103.

  • Report on a study that investigated non-native speaker interaction in a 3D virtual world that incorporates avatars and text chat known as Active Worlds. Post-study questionnaires found that avatars enhanced the subjects’ sense of telepresence and that the learners made use of their communicative features during the interaction. The analysis further suggested that the use of avatars facilitated learner interaction management during real time CMC.
  • Full-Text Summary:  This study looked at NNS interaction in a 3D virtual world w/avatar functions, called Active Worlds. The main thing we are interested in are the citations about how avatars facilitated learner interaction management, which supports L2 development by increasing target language output and enhancing motivation.  Avatars offer a sense of “telepresence”, or a sense of “being” within a virtual world. Another avatar advantage is the ability to communicate through non-verbal cues, such as smiling or waving.  Studies have shown that the chat-base design can become overwhelming for NNS’s to follow, which doesn’t allow them time to use their avatars or their communication features.
Peterson, M. (2001). MOOs and Second Language Acquisition: Towards a Rationale for MOO-based Learning. Computer Assisted Language Learning, 14(5), 443-459.
  • Nice overview of reasoning behind MOO-based learning software, which could be used as theoretical background against classroom learning.  Actually mentions salience of L2 input, as well as feedback; however, this is based on network-based education.
  • Full-Text Summary:  Concentrated on network based VR worlds, which is out of the scope of what we want to do.  Mentioned that CMC-based discourse conducted entirely in TL may improve learners’ written output, and ultimately their L2 proficiency (Paramskas, 1993).  Less inhibition (Richards, 2001). Fewer restraint on time/distance than traditional L2 learning environments (Harasim, 1986).  Studies have noted the motivational effects of nenwork-based CMC learning (Chun, 1994, Negretti, 1999).  Logging input is good for self-review.

Hansson, T. (2005). English as a Second Language on a Virtual Platform–Tradition and Innovation in a New Medium. Computer Assisted Language Learning,18(1-2), 63-79.

  • Vygotskian design to investigate a virtual platform on text composition task.  By investigating the design of a combined virtual and physical learning environment we describe how the video-game generation operates (in) a social system of peers as they develop their computer skills and text composing ability. 
McAvinia, C. & Hughes, J. (2003). Sharing Systems, Sharing Language: Designing and Working in a Virtual Department. Computer Assisted Language Learning, 16(5), 445-467.
  • This study created an inter-university virtual learning environment (called a virtual department), in order to accomodate talented language learners or students of obscure languages, which the university may not have offered.  More of a community-based learning environment, but a good example of how “virtual” is overgeneralized in the literature.
Welcome to the world of VR-related acronyms:
CALL = computer assisted language learning
MOOs = object-oriented multi-user domains
SPELL = spoken electronic language learning
CMC = computer mediated communication


Cool sites to check out:

Onlive Traveller – online community where avatars can communicate in the user’s voice, with microphones instead of typing.