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Playing games, saving lives: a critical analysis of serious games for nursing instruction

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posted on 2021-05-23, 11:16 authored by Tanya Pobuda
Used by military tacticians, political strategists, educational institutions and increasingly healthcare organizations, serious games are often defined as interactive digital games purpose-built to persuade and educate rather than strictly entertain (Zyda, 2005; Abt, 1970; Chen & Michael, 2005). Serious games offer learners the opportunity to experience subject matter in a different way than more traditional, classroom-based education. Using experiential learning theory (ELT) as defined by Kolb (1984), this Master’s Research Project (MRP) examines how two serious games, Post-Op Pediatric Clinical Simulation and Therapeutic Communication and Mental Health Assessment, Skills Practice: A Home Visit, created for nursing education, were constructed. Specifically, this paper explores how healthcare educators and technologists from Toronto-based post secondary institutions designed these serious games. Based on the designers’ understanding of serious games and their decisions, what key design elements were prioritized to support student learning and engagement? What design elements can be observed in these games? The analysis was conducted using qualitative content analysis of the designer’s interviews and qualitative content analysis of the games. The research uncovers that interactivity and immersion were observed to be prioritized by the designers in their discussions and in the final design of the game. This emphasis on interactivity and immersion was described by the designers as being in service of delivering a “real-world” simulated set of patient encounters in acute care pediatrics and mental health assessments in Post-Op and Home Visit respectively. The game designers also made a series of design decisions that resulted in an always-on, pervasive game design which encourages pick-up-and-play game replayability and student experimentation.





Master of Arts


Professional Communication

Granting Institution

Ryerson University

LAC Thesis Type