The Educational Potential of Visual Novel Games: Principles for Design
Peer reviewed, Journal article
MetadataVis full innførsel
OriginalversjonReplaying Japan. 2020, 2 123-134. 10.34382/00013369
Despite the increasing interest in computer games for educational purposes, there are genres with untapped potential for teaching, such as narratively driven, Japanese-style visual novel games, which is the focus of the present article. The aim is to set design principles for educators attempting to create visual novel games for their teaching purposes, by exploring the research question ‘What is the educational potential of visual novel game narratives, and how can this be translated into game design principles for educators?’ We explored the possibility of creating learning opportunities inside games by utilizing learning design theory and learning theory principles, as well as concepts related to learning, identity and narratives. Next, we conducted close readings of popular Japanese visual novel games localized for English-speaking audiences, and used examples from these games to elaborate on the principles. By combining the findings from both steps, we have proposed the following design principles: (1) Easy access to educational subject matter, (2) Exemplification of topics and ‘defamiliarization’ of the familiar, (3) Creation of well-developed characters that promote identification, (4) Use of branching narratives that are interesting for learners, (5) Use of a structured and creative design for learning, (6) Clear goals and strategies for assessment.