Multimodality or using a combination of visual, auditory, haptic,and other sensory modalities in the presentation of knowledge in serious gaming improves learning outcome. Interactivity or the communication between player and the digital gaming system in serious gaming also improves learning outcome. But these are two design elements and not psychological attributes of users of serious gaming that may effect learning outcome.
One theory about psychological attributes is the theory of mindset, a theory how people’s belief about ability and intelligence influence response to failure, behavior and learning outcomes. In short two types of mindsets are distinguished:
People with fixed mindset (or entity theorists) believe that abilities are fixed, either innate or fully developed in one’s early life stages. A person cannot do much to change his or her abilities. By contrast, people with growth mindset (or incremental theorists) believe that abilities can be developed through learning and practice; therefore, if one puts extra effort into learning tasks, one’s abilities can grow incrementally through practice.
People with a fixed mindset often regard each challenge as an evaluation of their ability and they tend to avoid challenges where they might fail. People with growth mindset perceive challenges as learning opportunities.
In a study with 233 undergraduate students from two large US universities these mindsets were studied with the serious game: Do I Have a Right? A game for teaching constitutional amendments.
The findings show that growth mindset players performed better than fixed mindset players, their mistakes did not affect their attention to the game, and they read more learning feedback than fixed mindset players. In addition, growth mindset players were more likely to actively seek difficult challenges, which is often essential to self-directed learning
This doesn’t mean that those with fixed mindset don’t benefit from serious gaming. Moreover, growth mindset can be taught. Teaching growth mindset can improve learning experience from serious gaming for those with a fixed mindset.
Lee, Y., Heeter, C., Magerko, B., & Medler, B. (2011). Gaming Mindsets: Implicit Theories in Serious Game Learning Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking DOI: 10.1089/cyber.2011.0328
Ritterfeld, U., Shen, C., Wang, H., Nocera, L., & Wong, W. (2009). Multimodality and Interactivity: Connecting Properties of Serious Games with Educational Outcomes CyberPsychology & Behavior, 12 (6), 691-697 DOI: 10.1089/cpb.2009.0099