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Attacking Immune Attack™? An Evaluation by Teacher Students

Journal article
Authors Wolmet Barendregt
Mattias von Feilitzen
Published in 4th European Conference on Games Based Learning
Publication year 2010
Published at The Linnaeus Centre for Research on Learning, Interaction, and Mediated Communication in Contemporary Society (LinCS)
Department of Applied Information Technology (GU)
Language en
Subject categories Information technology, Pedagogy


A crucial factor in the adoption of educational games in schools is the attitude of teachers towards these games. In this paper, we describe the results of an evaluation of the educational game Immune Attack™ by a group of teacher education students in the course Learning and Information Technology at Gothenburg University, Sweden. Immune Attack™ is meant to be a supplemental teaching tool for middle school and high school biology, introducing molecular and cellular biology in detail. The player assumes the role of a pilot remote-controlling a nanobot, called Explorer. With the help of advisors, the player must learn about the different cells and environments in the human body in order to determine how to train the immune system. Visual and audio clues in the game provide the information needed to accomplish this goal. The game has received a lot of positive media attention and has been developed by a team of researchers and developers from institutions such as the Federation of American Scientists (FAS), Escape Hatch Entertainment, Brown University, and the University of Southern California under a grant of the National Science Foundation. According to the designers of the game, preliminary test data has pointed out that students are learning and are gaining confidence with molecular and cellular biology by playing this game. Although many educational games do not succeed in being as motivational as other commercial games, or being convincingly effective as teaching tools, this game promises to be a candidate to convince future teachers to use educational games in their classroom. We thus considered Immune Attack™ an ideal game to be evaluated by the future teachers in our university program. Surprisingly, the results of the evaluation by teacher students discussed in this paper show that none of the teacher students would want to use the game in its current form for their teaching. Despite the general openness towards the use of computers in the classroom and Game Based Learning, these students also have a critical analytical attitude when evaluating the use of ICT in classroom settings. The paper first describes how the evaluation was performed and in what context. Then the arguments of the teacher students for why they would not use the present version of Immune Attack™ in their teaching are presented. These arguments are related to aspects like usability, integration of the learning content in the game, appeal, and motivation for the educational topic. The paper also presents some of the positive comments made about the game, such as the background music and graphic representation of the human body. Finally, the paper discusses the representativeness of this study for teachers’ views on a game like Immune Attack™ and presents recommendations for improvement of educational games in order to convince prospective teachers of the usefulness of such a game.

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