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Flow experience in game based learning – a systematic literature review

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)57-72
JournalInternational Journal of Serious Games
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2017
Publication typeA2 Review article in a scientific journal


The entertaining elements implemented in a serious game are key factors in determining whether a player will be engaged in a play-learn process and able to achieve the desired learning outcomes. Thus, optimization of subjective playing experience is a crucial part of a game design process. Flow theory can be adopted for measuring user experience and analyzing the quality of serious game designs. In addition, flow seems to have a positive influence on performance enhancement, learning and engagement. The focus of this review is especially on examining the meaning of flow in the context of serious games as well as exploring the relationship between flow and learning, factors that influence occurrence of flow and how flow is operationalized. The review revealed that there are mainly conceptual considerations about flow in serious games, but no robust empirical evidence about the meaning of flow. This is in line with other studies. We argue that research on flow should focus on the specific aspects related to the very nature of serious games that combine enjoyment and learning. Furthermore, new methods to measure flow and analyse the data need to be developed and studied.

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Field of science, Statistics Finland

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