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Cultural Heritage engagement via Serious Games: the ARCADE Augmented Reality, Context Aware, linked open Data pErsonalized ecosystem


Abstract and Figures

Serious Games (SG) combines explicit educational purposes with entertainment, increasing engagement, enhancing motivation and focus and ultimately optimising User eXperience (UX). Cultural Heritage proves an excellent application area for SG since it shares the same qualities and the interaction with related content requires both aspects. Current paper proposes an ubiquitous ecosystem, featuring SG as the focal point, enhanced with multiple modules serving different goals but converging to the optimal Cultural UX preserving both fun and educational aspects. These modules include: Augmented Reality techniques for data visualization and Semantic Technologies for content enrichment, Context Aware mechanisms for contextual and user data, UX design with User Personas personalization algorithms and Affective Computing for recognition and exploitation of user's emotions. The ARCADE ecosystem is presented in terms of analysis and design from different perspectives of the stakeholders, depicted in the following conceptual diagram: user behaviour and experience, data gathering, processing and enrichment.
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Eirini Kalatha¹,², John Aliprantis¹,², Markos Konstantakis¹,², Konstantinos Michalakis¹,²,
Efthymia Moraitou¹,², George Caridakis¹,²,3
1. Department of Cultural Technology and Communication, University of the Aegean
2. Intelligent Interaction Research Group
3. Intelligent Systems, Content and Interaction Laboratory National Technical University of Athens
Abstract. Serious Games (SGs) combine explicit educational purposes with entertainment,
increasing engagement, enhancing motivation and focus and ultimately optimizing User
eXperience (UX). Cultural Heritage (CH) proves an excellent application area for SG since it
shares the same qualities and the interaction with related content requires both aspects. Current
paper proposes an ubiquitous ecosystem, featuring SG as the focal point, enhanced with multiple
modules serving different goals but converging to the optimal Cultural UX preserving both fun
and educational aspects. These modules include: Augmented Reality techniques for data
visualization and Semantic Technologies for content enrichment, Context Aware mechanisms for
contextual and user data, UX design with User Personas personalization algorithms and Affective
Computing for recognition and exploitation of user’s emotions. The ARCADE ecosystem is
presented in terms of analysis and design from different perspectives of the stakeholders, depicted
in the following conceptual diagram: user behaviour and experience, data gathering, processing
and enrichment.
Özet. Serious Games (SGs) etkileşimi artırarak, motivasyonu ve odağı yükselterek ve nihayetinde
Kullanıcı Deneyimini (UX) iyileştirerek belirgin eğitim amaçlarını eğlenceyle birleştirir. Kültürel
Miras (CH), aynı nitelikleri paylaştığından ve ilgili içerikle etkileşimin her iki yönünü
gerektirdiğinden SG için mükemmel bir uygulama alanı olduğunu kanıtlar. Bu makalede, farklı
amaçlara hizmet eden ancak hem eğlenceli hem de eğitimsel yönlerini koruyarak Kültürel UX’e
yönelen çoklu modüllerle zenginleştirilmiş, odak noktası olarak SG içeren yaygın bir ekosistem
önerilmektedir. Bu modüller, veri görselleştirme için Artırılmış Gerçeklik teknikleri ve içerik
zenginleştirme için Semantik Teknolojiler, bağlamsal veriler ve kullanıcı verileri için Bağlam
Bilinçli mekanizmalar, Kullanıcı Karakterleri kişiselleştirme algoritmaları ile UX tasarımı ve
kullanıcının duygularının tanınması ve kullanılması için Duyuşsal Programlama içermektedir.
ARCADE ekosistemi, takip eden kavramsal şemada gösterilen, paydaşların farklı
perspektiflerinden analizi ve tasarımı açısından sunulmuştur: kullanıcı davranışı ve deneyimi, veri
toplama, işleme ve zenginleştirme.
SGs, games designed for an explicit educational purpose and are not intended to be played predominantly for
amusement (Belloti, Berta & De Gloria, 2010), are gaining an increasing interest for Cultural Heritage sector.
SGs functioning as a platform that incorporates variable procedures, can be enhanced with the integration of
technologies that serving as independent modules converge towards an optimal Cultural UX. Firstly, a
personalization process is necessary to appropriately introduce the users to the SG according to their profile.
Although many methods have been proposed in the academia for personalized initialization of applications, User
Personas have the advantage of categorizing the user based on cultural traits, which better fits the nature of a SG.
User Personas identification based on social and digital activity of the user, address and solve the cold-start issue
and allow a more refined personalization process for recurring users (Konstantakis, Aliprantis, Michalakis,
Kalatha, Moraitou & Caridakis, 2018; Vassilakis, Antoniou, Lepouras, Wallace, Lykourentzou & Naudet, 2016).
Context Awareness (CA) is nowadays integrated in most mobile applications and refers to the ability of the
system to identify the context of the environment, including the user and act upon this knowledge by
customizing the services provided (Abowd & Day, 1999). In the ecosystem of a Serious Game, the context
includes the environmental parameters, the user profile and the interaction during the game execution. Fusing
different contextual data, the SG platform can adapt the content, presentation and mechanics of the game,
appropriately matching the user expectations. Complementary to CA, Affective Computing (AC), that relates to,
arises from, or deliberately influences emotions or other affective phenomena (Piccard, 1997), can be exploited
in order to recognize user emotions through image recognition and interpret them in terms of UX. The
exploitation of this information by the SG may be crucial for its acceptance and eventual widespread use, by
trying to address negative emotions or amplify positive ones.
Over the last few years SGs have been widely adopted in cultural heritage field (Paliokas & Sylaiou, 2016)
due to the fact that they combine aspects of learning with the playfulness of video games (Alvarez, Rampnoux,
Jessel & Mathel, 2007), create engaging game experience (GX) (Mortara, Catalano, Bellotti, Fiucci,
Houry-Panchetti & Petridis, 2014) and maximize user’s motivation.
According to (Foni, Papagiannakis & Magnenat-Thalmann, 2010) SGs are a promising tool in the cultural
heritage filed, due to their ability to attract even users that may not be familiar with the arts and culture, to
discover the mystique of cultural heritage (Bellotti, Berta, De Gloria, D’ursi & Fiore, 2012). Moreover, they can
motivate user to activate and extend his knowledge, by transforming him from passive data receiver to actor.
Also, a SG provides a friendly environment and support the player to achieve learning targets and engage in
learning activities through a fun experience (Mortara et al., 2014) by playing, exploring, making mistakes and his
own choices (Anolli, Mantovani, Confalonieri, Ascolese & Peveri, 2010).
Furthermore, SGs allow the art to come to the audience (Seidl, Judmaier, Baker, Chippindale, Egger, Jax, Weis,
Grubinger & Seidl, 2011), by exploring a remote or inaccessible site, manipulating relics with no damage risk,
enhancing various types of multimedia content and admiring virtual reconstruction of partially damaged remains
(Mortara et al., 2014). As a consequence, their benefits contribute to the widespread diffusion of SGs and the
integration of diverse technologies into them, such as Augmented Reality, Context Awareness, Linked Open
Data, and much more, in order to improve user experience.
In the following paragraphs, technologies that integrate into SGs and numerous examples of available
implementations will be presented. First things first, Augmented Reality (AR) has been utilized widely in
cultural heritage gaming (Anderson, McLoughlin, Liarokapis, Peters, Petridis, De Freitas, 2010) and it is one of
the most suitable and promising technology for integration into interactive museum exhibitions or kiosks
(Sylaiou, Mania, Liarokapis, White, Walczak, Wojciechowski, Wiza & Patias, 2015). Serious Games can use
AR techniques for their development, with the prospect of new possibilities (Pellens, da Silva Hounsell & da
Silva, 2017) such as the generation of a deeper level of engagement during a game experience that educates
through fun (Weber, 2014). Furthermore, AR techniques can be integrated in SG with many possible advantages
such as smooth transition between reality and virtuality, interaction between real and virtual environments (Furio
GonzáLez-Gancedo, Juan, Seguí & Rando, 2013), improvement of usability, and environments closer to reality
(Dias & Zorzal, 2013).
The “Gossip at palace” is a location-based mobile game with a storytelling approach and offers contextual
information to the visitors in order to help them discover characters, traditions, and events that characterized the
palace in the 18th century (Rubino, Barberis, Xhembulla & Malnati, 2015). This approach can be particularly
intuitive and helps users easily connect the cultural contents with the physical context of the museum. In the Via
Appia SG application, users are able to explore the notion of narrative movement and travel across space and
time due to the fact that, in the context of the game, 1 km of the Via Appia Antica was reconstructed in three
time periods (320 CE, 71 BCE, and 49 BCE) (Liestol, 2014).
Furthermore, in ARCO project, an AR cultural heritage game, that was based on an historical and archaeological
context, was developed and evaluated (Sylaiou et al., 2015). The main goal of the game was to test the users’
ability to discover information about the Fishbourne Roman Palace, UK and its archaeological artifacts by
answering related questions. “Flying a drone in a museum” takes place in the street outside the museum where
the public can fly a small drone equipped with a camera flying inside the courtyard (Thon, Serena-Allier,
Salvetat & Lacotte, 2013). Moreover, “Your stone to the building” includes a first prototype of a Tangible User
Interface in a context of Augmented Reality (Leclet-Groux, Caron, Mouaddib & Anghour, 2013). Last but not
least, Articular is an augmented-reality serious games that encourages creative engagement and social interaction
through the use of AR and game design (Spivak, 2015).
As far as Context awareness in SG is concerned, REXplorer is a pervasive game designed for tourists of a
German town (Ballagas, Kuntze & Walz, 2008). The purpose of the mobile application is to inform the visitors
about historic aspects of the area, while keeping track of their activity. Contextual data is mainly the location of
the user which is taken into consideration for the current content of the game, while combining location and
photos taken, the application can reproduce the user path for future reference. Otherwise there is no
personalization of the game visualization and content either at initialization or execution time of the application.
The use of GPS for serious games and other similar engaging activities has been prominent the last years. La
Guardia et al (2012) explored the location-based serious games concept, creating a prototype that enhances and
exploits the historical, artistic and scenic heritage of the Basilicata region. Context awareness is limited to the
use of GPS for location extraction. The application extracting the location of the user, provides a challenge
among the 11 mini games implemented about cultural buildings that have spatial proximity. Again, there is no
profiling procedure restricting personalized content only based on user location. ConservAR (Phipps, Alvarez, de
Freitas, Wong, Baker & Pettit, 2016) combined location extraction and AR to provide content for awareness of
wildlife conservation.
Hardy et al. (2011) pointed the merits of adding context awareness into the design of serious games for sport and
health. They implemented a proof of concept framework that collects personalized data from the system database
in order to suggest an exertion level and propose an appropriate game to the user. Contextual data consist of
various parameters such as acceleration, temperature and height that can be fused to higher level information
about the anxiety state of the user.
On top of the aforementioned technologies, Linked Open Data and ontologies c can potentially contribute to the
creation of new types of Serious Games, as different approaches suggest. Firstly t, the combination of LOD and
serious games has been applied for inconsistencies detection in a given knowledge base.
In the context of CH domain and serious games implementation, Warren & Champion (2014) proposed a
prototype method for automated Linked Open Data driven procedural game generation, focusing on procedural
content generation and the Semantic Virtual Environment. The authors created a simulation of Great War in the
area of Western France in late 1914, using LOD to procedurally create content directly from a live database on
an as-needed basis. Within a simulated environment based on the actual digital terrain elevation and trench data,
a historian can simply walk around in the virtual world and have direct understanding of the advantages of
Similarly, Damiano et al. (2014) present the use of visual metaphors embedded in virtual environments and
stored in an ontology, as tool to convey the conceptualization of cultural heritage items and the relations holding
between them. Particularly, they developed Archetype ontology which provides a core model of narrative, aimed
at representing fragmented narrative contents in the field of cultural heritage. Based on Archetype ontology they
created a virtual space, the Labyrinth System, where a user could explore artworks provided by media resources,
exploiting the semantic connections that the ontology has created between them. For example when the user
starts the exploration of a particular painting some information about it will be provided. Furthermore,
semantically connected information (such as the theme of the painting) will lead to the display of more, different
artworks (e.g. other paintings with the same theme).
Moreover, game player profile data, contextual information and cultural or educational content could be
combined by the exploitation of LOD and ontologies. As suggested by Rocha & Zucker (2015) Ludo ontology
could enable the description and representation of Serious Games with such characteristics, as well as the use of
Linked Data datasets as a knowledge base to represent resources within the game. The Ludo also makes possible
the generation of more personalized recommendations of related resources in order to stimulate the learning
process while playing. The potential of this ontology is demonstrated through the prototype of a serious,
Web-based and question-based board game, which exploits the DBpedia dataset and vocabulary to propose the
user questions with multiple answers.
In addition to the technologies embedded in SGs, the evaluation of user's experience is also crucial. The ARCO
system (Sylaiou et al., 2015), a result of the ARCO project as described above, allows museums to create their
own virtual museum exhibitions based around a collection of cultural objects. Through the use of interviews and
structured questionnaires, user feedback has been collected for evaluation to enable the authors to improve the
game characteristics, but more importantly to understand whether AR based games are educationally useful,
meaningful and appealing to users. In this respect, this study revealed that AR based games are appealing and do
attract user engagement and interest, however, because of the integration of real- world and 3D elements, AR
games also have problems and deficiencies.
Also, in Gossip at Palace (Rubino et al., 2015), at the end, players’ degree of use of the digital game throughout
the visit was compared to analogous patterns registered for people using a multimedia mobile guide in the same
venue. On the one hand, the study pointed out that the game facilitated a wider exploration of the museum; on
the other, it highlighted that players mainly gained a superficial knowledge of the proposed contents.
Finally, the evaluation of the game ARticular (Spivak, 2015) indicated that it fostered engagement and social
interaction among visitors, and evoked a high degree of satisfaction by young visitors. The authors suggest
improvements could be made by adding a sharing option through social networks, and by giving the players a
higher degree of control to create a more personalized experience.
2.1. System Architecture
Figure 1. Platform Architecture
The ARCADE is a proposed platform that intends to combine established and emerging technologies into an
ecosystem where SGs can offer an engaging interaction with elements of cultural heritage. Despite the increasing
use of concepts like AR or Location Awareness, a complete integration into a single platform has not been
achieved to the best of our knowledge. The architecture of the ARCADE platform is depicted in figure 1. There
are 5 modules that are connected to the Code module of the platform, each one involving a couple of
components. They are described in order from the first to last step of the ARCADE performance.
Initialization Module
The first module involves the necessary steps to initialize the platform, consisting of two main components: the
User Persona Identification and the Context Awareness (CA) Component. Both receive data from the users and
their location, to accordingly adapt the initial customization of the ARCADE. The User Personas is one of the
most established methods of personalization and profiling of users. It allows for an initial categorization of the
user to a certain Persona, which has specific needs and expectations from the Game (and consequently from the
The personalization procedure is further refined with the use of sensory data from the mobile and possible
smart-area infrastructure, which is processed by the CA component and analyzed into higher level of information
concerning the user (e.g. whether he/she is accompanied by other users, the weather conditions, the location etc).
Overall, the initialization module provides a setup for the platform to know where to start from, eliminating the
cold-start issue, which characterizes situations when the system lacks any information about the user and thus
cannot offer any customization but relies on default settings.
Personalization Module
Closely related to the first module, the second one continues the process of personalization the behavior of the
platform by applying similar procedures during the execution of the various serious games. Again the CA
component is responsible to extract the sensory data from sources such as the mobile devices of the user,
possible smart environment infrastructure of the place of interest (i.e. smart museum) and other sources like
social streams. Apart from sensed data, the CA component will monitor the users’ behaviour concerning their
interaction with the interface of the platform and understand their patterns and preferences.
Extending the procedure, the Affective computing component will be able to extract the affect of the user,
identifying feelings towards the game (thrill, boredom etc.), or towards other parameters (such as the annoyance
towards external sounds). The fusion of such procedures that are implemented in the Personalization module will
give the necessary information to the platform that will allow further customization of its parameters towards a
more profound user experience.
Data Retrieval Module
After initialization, the platform has to select the game data that will accompany the game types that are
appropriate for the persona of the user. Game data may include textual, visual (images, videos) and audio
materials of actors, objects or events related to Cultural Heritage sector. Most of the data will be stored in the
game Database, while the rich resources of the Linked Open Data Cloud (LOD) will be exploited as well.
Linking to such data repositories (e.g. Europeana) will allow for further enrichment of the multimedia content of
the game, also addressing the issue of dynamic update of game content from external sources.
Figure 2. Data Flow
Presentation Module
The presentation module is crucial for the successful implementation of SGs, since a carefully designed interface
can attract a larger body of players. The use of attractive modern technologies is essential, thus the ARCADE
platform will integrate an AR component which will accompany the typical GUI of mobile devices. AR can
enrich the visual presentation of a serious game, but can also provide the means for new game types and
mechanics. Multiple interface types will allow for more diverse gaming experiences which will also lead to a
wider range of satisfied users.
Evaluation Module
The final module is responsible to evaluate the user experience of the ARCADE platform. Users will be
prompted to express their opinion about the game, its mechanics, the content and whether the platform has
helped towards a better engagement with cultural heritage elements. The evaluation metrics will be stored and
analyzed in order to improve the platform’s behaviour. The evaluation methods will include a mobile
questionnaire, card sorting and paper prototyping techniques, combined with other CH evaluation
The data flow of the platform is depicted in figure 2, which shows the components, the connectivity between
each other and the data exchanged. Although the figure is not extensive on all the data transmissions of platform,
it illustrates the most important ones, emphasizing on the core procedures of personalization, data acquisition,
presentation and evaluation. The Game Mechanics, Game Data Acquisition, Game Interface and Game
Execution belong to the Core module of the ARCADE platform and are connected to the side modules that
enhance the user experience through the data flows described.
2.2. Technologies
User Personas
Defined as a transcription of behavior patterns, goals, skills, attitudes and environment of future users, personas
were originated as an instrument to guide game designers through design process, a representation not always
provided from real users, but with some research information about them (Salomao, 2015). It has been
recognized that among established tools for representing users, their activities and contexts of use include
personas and scenarios and that scenarios can be much more effective when built on personas based on data
collected from real people (Grudin, 2002). Even if authors argued that personas can encourage the creation of
stereotypes and that Participatory Design is pragmatic about ensuring that needs are met through design, the
process based on real information and contact with which users can’t avoid the data interpretation by the
researcher and game designers, but increases the possibility to meet real needs.
Although personalisation is useful in serious games, creating correct user profiles is a rather demanding and
sometimes intruding task. ARCADE game user profiles need to be created quickly and effectively in terms of
their appropriateness for the different users. The problem is that although users enjoy the benefits of
personalization, they are at the same time reluctant at dealing with form-filling activities. Therefore, ARCADE
has to become more creative in applying indirect approaches for the collection of the needed information for the
creation of user profiles. The design of ARCADE personas as ‘fictional’ characters is considered as a very
consistent and representative way to define actual users and their goals. However, it is important to clarify the
exact (minimum) number of ARCADE personas in each occasion in order to focus on the visitor profiles to be
examined (Konstantakis et al., 2018).
Context Awareness
CA is a technology widely used to personalize and customize the system behaviour according to the user
preferences and privileges. Restricted to location in most applications so far, the context of the environment
(including the user) plays an important role in enhancing the user experience and can have multiple parameters
such as location, time, weather conditions, points of interest nearby, social context like accompanying users and
their relationship etc. CA is also interested in monitoring the user behavior and extract patterns and preferences
not explicitly given.
The CA cycle involves the following 4 steps which will be integrated into the ARCADE platform. First the
sensed and profiled contextual data will be collected from the various streams. Since the data will acquired from
different sources, they will need to be modeled in a consistent format. Then the data will be reasoned and
transformed into higher level information (e.g. the contextual parameters indicate that the user has lost his initial
excitement and is about to quit playing the game). Finally, the data will be disseminated to the interested parts,
mainly the Game Execution module which will act upon them (continuing the previous example, it may decide
to switch the game type and mechanics).
Affective Computing
Affective Computing (AC) is an emerging technology that is being exploited to identify, record, interpret,
process, and simulate various shades of human emotion. It consists an interdisciplinary field that pertains to the
wider research field of human-computer interaction, and spans the fields of computer science, psychology and
cognitive science (Maglogiannis, Kalatha, Paraskeuopoulou-Kollia, 2014).
As a matter of fact, emotions, that are divided into positive and negative, hold a primary role inside the structure
and experience of SGs (Anolli et al., 2010). For instance, a player have to manage negative emotions, such as
disappointment, frustration, or even anger.
In the context of ARCADE platform, user’s emotional facial expressions will be recorded and recognized in
order to be exploited to adapt the system. This adaptation of SG aims to enhance learning outcomes, due to the
fact that exploit the interdependence between emotions and participatory appropriation (Anolli et al., 2010),
maximize user’s engagement and improve cultural user’s experience.
Augmented Reality
Augmented reality is the technology that expands the physical world, adding layers of computer generated
information onto it. The basic difference with Virtual Reality (VR) is that AR does not create the whole digital
environments to replace real with virtual one. Instead, AR appears in direct view of an existing environment,
adding digital content like sounds, videos, graphics and 3D models to it.
The most commonly used and widely accepted definition of an AR system has been given by researcher Ron
Azuma (1997), according to which, AR technology has three key requirements: combines real and virtual objects
in a real environment, is interactive in real time and in three dimensions, and registers virtual object in three
dimensions. Moreover, when an application is being run and displayed in a mobile device, then it’s called
Mobile Augmented Reality (MAR) (Chatzopoulos, Bermejo, Huang & Hui, 2017).
With the raise of wireless internet and the evolution of smart portable devices like smartphones and tablets, AR
rolled out its second wave and nowadays is mostly related to interactive concept. Digital content like 3D models
are directly projected onto physical things or fused together in real-time, while various augmented reality
application impact user’s habits, social life and entertainment.
For the ARCADE platform, Augmented Reality is used as a visualization technique that adds in not only in the
user’s entertainment, nut also it gives new capabilities in the way that games and quizzes are played. AR adds
layers of digital information such as 3D models and images, that help users solve the game and proceed to the
new quests. The use of AR techniques aims also in raising the interest for users of all ages, thus motivate them to
follow up the game and expand their knowledge.
Linked Open Data
Linked Open Data refers to structured data that is interlinked and freely available to access and use. The idea of
LOD use in CH sector seems notably beneficial, since cultural content can be easily shared in the World Wide
Web, accessed by the general public and correlated with other data. Cultural Heritage Institutions (libraries,
archives and museums) export cultural data related to their collections into RDF triples. Additionally, they are
able to integrate external linked datasets into their own, expanding the way that users perceive cultural
information (Marden, Li-Madeo, Whysel, & Edelstein, 2013). The combination of different, yet interoperable,
data sources facilitates the enrichment of the initial material with semantically interlinked information.
Furthermore, ontologies usage addresses the problem of cultural data heterogeneity and allows the integration
among different metadata models, based on an explicit description of concepts and relations of a defined domain
(Hyvönen, 2012).
In the context of ARCADE, semantic web and LOD aim to enrich the content of the game and improve user
experience. The conceptualization of user personas and game data can organize and correlate the information
included in different game types of the platform. Moreover, the initial game datasets can be matched with other
RDF triples of external resources which are similar or semantically related. By expanding the game possibilities
with the use of cultural LOD, the user will be able to explore and learn historic, artistic, geographical etc.
information in a playful way. Eventually, cultural multimedia and textual content displayed on ARCADE games
will be dynamically updated, since the connected resources perpetually store and provide new data.
User Experience Evaluation
The evaluation of the SGs visitors’ experience is a crucial part, since it will determine the outcome of this
research and validate the research objectives. In recent decades, studies in cultural spaces have been
revolutionized by the change of direction and the methods used to study the cultural spaces themselves. There
are various methodologies available to support such research: qualitative, quantitative, experimental, grounded
theory and many others.
The choice of methodology to be used in ARCADE project is based on the scope and aspects of the research
itself. In addition, the choices of methodology used must also be in accordance with the components that will be
evaluated. To date, there are various evaluation methods available for cultural heritage serious games, such as
formative evaluation, summative evaluation, and front-end evaluation.
Based on Konstantakis et al. (2017), we can assume that User personas is one of the most complete evaluation
method in cultural heritage applications, as it only lacks in reliability. A more reliable but equally complete
evaluation method is the Emotional Cards, an easy, quick and interesting method for both users and researchers,
but not accessible by users with disabilities. Users carry with them empty or pre-defined emotion cards and fill in
their mood at a given situation (usually after they examine an object or be part of a procedure). Furthermore,
Paper Prototyping, Card Sorting and Diary Studies are also suitable for ARCADE user experience evaluation.
Paper Prototyping aims at giving users the ability to draw on a piece of paper the interface and the interactions
that they prefer to have with an object of interest (OoI). It is a cost-effective and easy evaluation method which
doesn’t require design or coding skills, consumes less resource than most of the others and allows the exchange
and tests of ideas and thoughts between users and researchers in situ.
4. Game design concept
ARCADE game is a location-based game which is designed for everyone who want to combine fun with
learning during his navigation in a city. The player is able to choose between various mini games, such as trivia,
quiz, puzzle and maze games (Table 1). Players are guided along tourist routes through the streets of a city and
thanks to real-time position localization are able to play the mini game that is relevant to their location at that
During the play, the user will learn about the cultural heritage of the city and improve his knowledge and
stimulate his skills, such as memorization, problem solving and eye-hand coordination. Moreover, the set of the
mini-games performs specific educational goals. More specific, ARCADE has been designed based on the
principles of constructive learning theory and educational methods, such as experiential and discovering
learning, has been adopted.
Table 1. ARCADE mini-games
Learning goals
(After playing the game, the
player will be able to...)
The castle
player has to escape from a maze that includes
buildings related to Mytilene’s castle
-list buildings located inside
Mytilene’s castle
-describe the use of these
Check points
player has to visit some locations and memorizes
data (location, statue, related information) in order
to match them
-identify statues and locations
-recall information related to
Mytilene’ statues
City’s secrets
player has to answer questions related to Mytilene’s
-summarize information related
to Mytilene’s city
jigsaw puzzle
player has to reconstruct some mosaic pictures of
Archeological museum of Mytilene
-recognize mosaic floors of
ancient Roman villas
-summarize information related
to Hellenistic and Roman
Lesbos from the 3rd century
BC to the 4th century AD
Building up
player has to “build up” the church of Saint
- recognize Saint Therapon
-identify different architectural
The player take active part in the educational process and receive feedback about his achievement. Furthermore,
user’s facial expressions are recorded all along his engagement with the SG and are exploited to system’s
adaptation, in order to enhance learning outcomes, maximize user’s motivation and improve cultural user’s
In particular, as far as game design principles are concerned, ARCADE game follows a number of common
design principles, that tend to yield preferred interaction modes and desirable learner states (Johnson,
Vilhjálmsson & Marsella, 2005), (Prensky, 2001), (Gee, 2003).
Gameplay is one of the basic characteristic of a good game (Prensky, 2001) and endeavour to achieve player’s
engagement and motivation to complete each level and an entire game (Prensky, 2002). ARCADE is based on
"game-based" gameplay due to the fact that is designed with stated goals to reach, that are used as reference in
order to evaluate the user’s performance.
Feedback is another main feature of good games (Johnson et al., 2005). ARCADE provides users with feedback
on their actions so as to motivate them to improve their skills. Moreover, feedback related to user’s affective
state will be provided intention of a more profound user experience.
Last but not least, challenge “plays” an important role in game design and, generally, in all learning activities
(Lepper & Henderlong, 2000). ARCADE exploits this game design principle in order to promote intrinsic
motivation. More specific, ARCADE’s challenges are not insurmountable but their level of difficulty gradually
increases. It is good to be mentioned that ARCADE game adjusts its difficulty based on how the player is doing
or is feeling at the time.
5. ARCADE prototype & use case scenario
As mentioned above, ARCADE platform is based on a serious game that help users navigate in a city and have
access to the sights data through mini games, while also incorporating many modern technologies that enrich
user’s experience. The SG aims to stimulate user’s interest in order to expand their knowledge about the city
they visit. Technologies like Augmented Reality, Context Awareness, Linked Open Data (LOD) and Affective
Computing boost the gaming experience by adding layers of digital material between real world and user, taking
into considerations conditions that may change the data flow, enriching the available information by linking
them to the LOD cloud and considering user’s emotions for each next step of the serious game.
Alongside with the design of ARCADE platform, we also created a prototype that incorporates the basic
concepts of our framework, helping us in the constant evaluation of its development. This prototype is a mobile
application that implements examples of the mini games and evaluates the validity and the efficiency of the
technologies, whose part in the platform has been explained in the chapters above. The use case scenario that
was tested, is described in detail below:
In the first screenshot of the prototype, user enters his personal information that ultimately define the
data types that will be shown to him, the available routes and the suitable graphical interface. Apart
from that, the language of the interface is also determined.
Subsequently, user’s device displays a map with his current location and the nearby sites that he can
visit and play the corresponding mini games. However, Not all the points of interest as displayed from
the beginning are available, since users need to solve the game in order to proceed to the next sight.
One of the mini games is shown in the Figure 3c. A questionnaire about the current site that tests user’s
observability and background knowledge, that pop ups in his screen with augmented reality techniques,
meaning that real world details are still visible through his camera, allowing users to observe the
surrounding environment.
Finally, regardless of the game’s result, information about the site’s characteristics is displayed. But if
user solve correctly the mini game (in our case, if he chooses the right answer), he earns points that
unlock new routes with special sites of the city at the end. With this framework, users don’t get
“punished” for wrong answers, as the main goal of the SG is to educate users, but simultaneously the
points system with the reward routes motivates them to try and solve the game correctly. In any case,
after the outcome of the mini game, user’s screen displays the map with the next site according to his
current route.
Figure 3 (a,b,c,d). ARCADE’s screenshots
The current paper presents the ARCADE serious game. A location-based game that use modern technologies
(Augmented Reality, Linked Open Data, Affective Computing, User Personas, Context Awareness) to enrich and
personalize user’s experience, enhance the learning process through fun activities, combine education and
entertainment and provide knowledge in more appealing ways. The exploitation of user’s emotions, during
player’s interaction with ARCADE game, contributes to a more profound cultural user experience. Future work
will include design improvements, the implementation of further mini games and large-scale user test.
The research and writing of this paper was financially supported by the General Secretariat for Research and
Technology (GSRT) and the Hellenic Foundation for Research and Innovation (HFRI). John Aliprantis and
Eirini Kalatha have been awarded with a scholarship for their PhD research from the “1st Call for PhD
Scholarships by HFRI” – “Grant Codes 234 and 1347”.
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