Serious Games for Language Learning: How Much Game, How Much AI?

W. Lewis Johnson, Hannes Vilhjalmsson, Stacy Marsella

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review

102 Citations (Scopus)


Modern computer games show potential not just for engaging and entertaining users, but also in promoting learning. Game designers employ a range of techniques to promote long-term user engagement and motivation. These techniques are increasingly being employed in so-called serious games, games that have non-entertainment purposes such as education or training. Although such games share the goal of AIED of promoting deep learner engagement with subject matter, the techniques employed are very different. Can AIED technologies complement and enhance serious game design techniques, or does good serious game design render AIED techniques superfluous? This paper explores these questions in the context of the Tactical Language Training System (TLTS), a program that supports rapid acquisition of foreign language and cultural skills. The TLTS combines game design principles and game development tools with learner modelling, pedagogical agents, and pedagogical dramas. Learners carry out missions in a simulated game world, interacting with non-player characters. A virtual aide assists the learners if they run into difficulties, and gives performance feedback in the context of preparatory exercises. Artificial intelligence plays a key role in controlling the behaviour of the non-player characters in the game; intelligent tutoring provides supplementary scaffolding.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationArtificial Intelligence in Education
Subtitle of host publicationSupporting Learning through Intelligent and Socially Informed Technology
EditorsChee-Kit Looi, Gord McCalla, Bert Bredeweg, Joost Breuker
PublisherIOS Press BV
Number of pages8
ISBN (Electronic)1586035304, 9781586035303
Publication statusPublished - 2005
Event12th International Conference on Artificial Intelligence in Education, AIED 2005 - Amsterdam, Netherlands
Duration: 18 Jul 200522 Jul 2005

Publication series

NameFrontiers in Artificial Intelligence and Applications
ISSN (Print)0922-6389


Conference12th International Conference on Artificial Intelligence in Education, AIED 2005

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This project is part of the DARWARS Training Superiority Program of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. The authors wish to acknowledge the contributions of the members of the Tactical Language Team.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2005 The authors. All rights reserved.


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