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ADAPTIve player-centric serious video gaMES

Final Report Summary - ADAPTIMES (ADAPTIve player-centric serious video gaMES)

Video games are applied in education due to their immersive nature, attractiveness and visual effects useful for presenting tasks requiring entrepreneurial creativity. ADAPTIMES (ADAPTIve player-centric serious video gaMES) is a project aiming at investigating how cognitive abilities, psycho-emotional processes and playing style can be used as a basis for realization of efficient and effective player-centric adaptivity in serious games applied for education. Hence, the project objectives can be summarized as follows:
1. To conduct an in-depth and critical comparative analysis of latest research and practical findings in game adaptation related to player character
2. To define a holistic player-centric model for game adaptation - while other research works treat separate features of player character
3. To design adaptation control methods for effective adaptation control in player-centric serious video games
4. To implement prototypes of adaptive serious video games for entrepreneurship education
5. To conduct field trials with created adaptive game prototypes
6. To perform validations and analyses of intermediate and final results.

For understanding how these mental characteristics of the player relate to game adaptivity, the project applied novel combination of modern methods and techniques. Cognitive abilities, performance and playing style were tracked while player performs creative and challenging tasks, while psycho-emotional status was assessed by means of non-intrusive behavioural measuring techniques such as analysis of facial expressions. Research findings addressed usage of methods for adaptation control for analysis of correlation between player´s metrics and self-reported behaviour and are resulted from practical experiments with adaptive 3D video games using the real time 3D graphics engine of Brainstorm Multimedia S.L. (the host institution). While one of the video games was designed specially for implicit in-game estimation of playing style based on tracking behaviour of the individual player, the others were targeted to promising area of entrepreneurial education and represented an educational maze with embedded mini-games for fostering context-dependent thinking and creativity. For validation of implicit in-game estimation of playing style family consisting of Competitor, Dreamer, Logician and Strategist styles, a playing style questionnaire was developed and validated on its turn vi an observational study. Via two field trials with playing the adaptive games and post-game self-report about player´s demographics, playing and learning styles, engagement and motivation, the project validated the research concept and analysed the efficiency of adaptation control based on these essential mental characteristics of the player.

Main results of the ADAPTIMES project can be summarize as follows:
1. A comparative study of modern models, methods and techniques for player-centric adaptation in video games - result: D1 and a journal article
2. Definition of a holistic model of player character making synergy of performance-based adaptation (player’s knowledge and intellectual abilities); emotional adaptation (player arousal, affective state and motivation); and playing style adaptation (depending on player’s personality and styles of playing and learning) - result: D2 and a conference article
3. Design of a software framework for effective adaptation control and a platform for generation of player-centric serious video maze games - result: D3 and a conference article
4. An adaptive educational maze video game developed using Brainstorm eStudio & API for teaching entrepreneurship mind set and processes concerning the effectuation theory - result: D4 and a journal article
5. A questionnaire for self-report estimation of a new family of playing styles (Competitor, Dreamer, Logician and Strategist) created and assessed specially for validation of implicit in-game recognition of playing styles
6. An adaptive educational maze video game (Rush for Gold) for implicit in-game estimation (recognition) of playing/learning style applying affective adaptation based on player´s emotions inferred by facial expressions and arousal estimated by electrodermal activity
7. An adaptive educational maze video game (STRAMAG) developed using Brainstorm eStudio & API for teaching strategic management applying style-based adaptation of learning content and affective adaptation based on player´s emotions inferred by facial expressions and arousal estimated by electrodermal activity
8. Validation of the holistic model of player character supporting performance-based adaptation with results proving high efficiency of the playing/learning style recognition and the adaptive gameplay

Serious games are defined as “tools that add entertainment to teaching and training” and have proven impact on sustainable human development. The main impact of the outcomes resulted from ADAPTIMES is in the area of game-based learning, where the new player-centric model can be utilized for design and development of educational games with adaptation based on player´s achievements, affect and/or playing/learning style. Future educational games should apply achievements, emotional state and playing-learning style of individual learner for an effective and efficient adaptation of game-based learning. Moreover, the created platform for generation of player-centric serious video maze games can used for straightforward and easy creation of various educational maze games by non-ITC specialist and for various learning domains. The first trial is already accomplished by applying the platform for generation of an educational desktop maze game in the area of Bulgarian iconography. Future enhancements of the software should include its redesign as an open Web-based platform, which will allow free online generation and use of adaptive serious games for education following the methodology of ADAPTIMES.
All the deliverables and dissemination results of execution of ADAPTIMES were published at the project Web site and are available at