Evaluating the usability of authoring environments for serious games

Aad Slootmaker*, Hans Hummel, Rob Koper

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Background: The EMERGO method and online platform enable the development and delivery ofscenario-based serious games that foster students to acquire professional competence. One of themain goals of the platform is to provide a user-friendly authoring environment for creating virtualenvironments where students can perform authentic tasks. Aim: We present the findings of an in-depth qualitative case study of the platform´s authoringenvironment and compare our findings on usability with those found for comparable environmentsin literature. Method: We carried out semi-structured interviews, with two experienced game developers whohave authored a game for higher education, and a literature review of comparable environments. Findings: The analysis shows that the usability of the authoring environment is problematic,especially regarding understandability and learnability, which is in line with findings ofcomparable environments. Other findings are that authoring is well integrated with the EMERGOmethod and that functionality and reliability of the authoring environment are valued. Practical implications: The lessons learned are presented in the form of general guidelines toimprove the understandability and learnability of authoring environments for serious games.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)553-578
Number of pages26
JournalSimulation & Gaming
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2017


  • authoring environment
  • development process
  • functionality
  • game design research,
  • learnability
  • operability
  • reliability
  • scenario-based serious games
  • understandability
  • usability

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