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Serious Games for Emotional Intelligence’s Skills Development for Inner Balance and Quality of Life-A Literature Review (Juegos serios para el desarrollo de habilidades de la inteligencia emocional para el equilibrio interior y la calidad de vida- Una revisión de la literatura)



The use of technologies to develop serious games for the enhancement of the abilities in the spectrum of emotional intelligence is of utmost importance and it has led progressively to the appearance of new applications. On the other hand, emotional intelligence is a very important concept that positively affects all areas of our lives. This paper aimed to review to show the current state of the studies that administrate the use of serious games to develop and improve emotional intelligence which is very important for our physical, mental and emotional health. The review included 14 scientific articles that met the inclusion criteria from 2010 until 2021. Our findings showed that serious games can play an important role in cultivating and promoting emotional intelligence skills which in turn results in a better quality of life. Future research on the subject could study and focus more systematically on the importance of serious games in the development of emotional skills in people's daily lives in general. It would be important, in other words, to investigate whether the development of emotional skills through the use of serious games is transferred to a more general context of individuals' personal lives and not just when engaging in the specific activity during the research. Resumen. El uso de tecnologías para desarrollar juegos serios para la potenciación de las habilidades en el espectro de la inteligencia emocional es de suma importancia y ha dado lugar progresivamente a la aparición de nuevas aplicaciones. Por otro lado, la inteligencia emocional es un concepto muy importante que afecta positivamente a todos los ámbitos de nuestra vida. El objetivo de este trabajo fue realizar una revisión para mostrar el estado actual de los estudios que administran el uso de juegos serios para desarrollar y mejorar la inteligencia emocional, muy importante para nuestra salud física, mental y emocional. La revisión incluyó 14 artículos científicos que cumplieron con los criterios de inclusión desde 2010 hasta 2021. Nuestros hallazgos mostraron que los juegos serios pueden desempeñar un papel importante en el cultivo y la promoción de habilidades de inteligencia emocional que, a su vez, se traducen en una mejor calidad de vida. Futuras investigaciones sobre el tema podrían estudiar y enfocarse más sistemáticamente en la importancia de los juegos serios en el desarrollo de habilidades emocionales en la vida diaria de las personas en general. Sería importante, en otras palabras, investigar si el desarrollo de habilidades emocionales a través del uso de juegos serios se traslada a un contexto más general de la vida personal de los individuos y no solo al realizar la actividad específica durante la investigación.
2022 · Retos Nº 46 / Págs.
© Copyright: Federación Española de Asociaciones de Docentes de Educación Física (FEADEF) ISSN: Edición impresa: 1579-1726. Edición Web: 1988-2041(
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In the social structures of contemporary society, the
concept of emotional development and the general impro-
vement of the people’s skills-capabilities (be in adults or
young adults and children) is an issue of utmost importan-
ce, which seems to have attracted the interest of scientists
and other professionals in a global scale. Research illustra-
tes the very importance of cultivating the many social and
emotional skills capabilities that play a particularly signi-
ficant role in the global psychological and spiritual sphere
(Chernyshenko et al., 2018; Moreira et al., 2014).
The main objective of cultivating those types of abilities
and skills-capabilities is the overall development of emotio-
nality and sociability, the need for substantial cultivation of
Serious Games for Emotional Intelligence’s Skills Development for Inner Balance and
Quality of Life-A Literature Review
Juegos serios para el desarrollo de habilidades de la inteligencia emocional para el
equilibrio interior y la calidad de vida- Una revisión de la literatura
*,**Chara Papoutsi, *Athanasios Drigas, **Charalabos Skianis
*Institute of Informatics and Telecommunications (Greece)
**University of the Aegean, Samos (Greece)
Abstract. The use of technologies to develop serious games for the enhancement of the abilities in the spectrum of emotional intelli-
gence is of utmost importance and it has led progressively to the appearance of new applications. On the other hand, emotional intel-
ligence is a very important concept that positively affects all areas of our lives. This paper aimed to review to show the current state of
the studies that administrate the use of serious games to develop and improve emotional intelligence which is very important for our
physical, mental and emotional health. The review included 14 scientific articles that met the inclusion criteria from 2010 until 2021.
Our findings showed that serious games can play an important role in cultivating and promoting emotional intelligence skills which
in turn results in a better quality of life. Future research on the subject could study and focus more systematically on the importance
of serious games in the development of emotional skills in people’s daily lives in general. It would be important, in other words, to
investigate whether the development of emotional skills through the use of serious games is transferred to a more general context of
individuals’ personal lives and not just when engaging in the specific activity during the research.
Keywords: Emotional Intelligence, Serious games, Emotional Skills, Empathy, Physical - Mental health, Quality of Life.
Resumen. El uso de tecnologías para desarrollar juegos serios para la potenciación de las habilidades en el espectro de la inteligencia
emocional es de suma importancia y ha dado lugar progresivamente a la aparición de nuevas aplicaciones. Por otro lado, la inteligencia
emocional es un concepto muy importante que afecta positivamente a todos los ámbitos de nuestra vida. El objetivo de este trabajo
fue realizar una revisión para mostrar el estado actual de los estudios que administran el uso de juegos serios para desarrollar y mejorar
la inteligencia emocional, muy importante para nuestra salud física, mental y emocional. La revisión incluyó 14 artículos científicos
que cumplieron con los criterios de inclusión desde 2010 hasta 2021. Nuestros hallazgos mostraron que los juegos serios pueden
desempeñar un papel importante en el cultivo y la promoción de habilidades de inteligencia emocional que, a su vez, se traducen en
una mejor calidad de vida. Futuras investigaciones sobre el tema podrían estudiar y enfocarse más sistemáticamente en la importancia
de los juegos serios en el desarrollo de habilidades emocionales en la vida diaria de las personas en general. Sería importante, en otras
palabras, investigar si el desarrollo de habilidades emocionales a través del uso de juegos serios se traslada a un contexto más general de
la vida personal de los individuos y no solo al realizar la actividad específica durante la investigación.
Palabras clave: Inteligencia emocional, Juegos serios, Habilidades emocionales, Empatía, Salud físico-mental, Calidad de vida.
human interaction, understanding, and respect for human
existence in its most abstract definition (Spence, 2003). The
harmonious coexistence of people in society presupposes
the development of emotional intelligence and the abilities
of which it is composed. Emotional intelligence is the abili-
ty to feel, recognize, perceive, express, and regulate emo-
tions (yours and those of others) and it is very important
for dealing with various life situations and different kinds of
relations (Drigas & Papoutsi, 2020; Szewczyk-zakrzewska,
2019). It is a set of abilities and skills that a person must
train and cultivate to succeed in emotional self-realization
(Drigas & Papoutsi, 2021). Empathy is a key component
of emotional intelligence and is related to a person’s ability
to experience and understand another person’s emotional
state, respond emotionally, and be able to see things from
a different perspective (Ferreira et al., 2021; Rosado et al.,
2022). Research has also shown the positive relationship
between emotional intelligence, eudaimonic well-being,
and physical – and mental health (Di Fabio & Kenny, 2016;
Fecha recepción: 27-10-21. Fecha de aceptación: 19-06-22
Athanasios Drigas
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Retos, número 46 · 2022 (3º trimestre)
portant definitions have been suggested, definitions that
include in every case different aspects of the issue. Table
1 includes some definitions that have been presented in
the international bibliography for serious games over the
years. Their educational purposes (i.e. transmission of
knowledge, changes in behavior) are more and more em-
phasized through an entertaining and enjoyable process
where entertainment and learning coexist harmoniously
offering the child a unique experience.
Some researchers emphasize the importance of serious
games and reveal through their results their effect on the
perceptual, cognitive, behavioral, emotional, and motiva-
tional fields (Connolly et al., 2012). Briefly, they are games
that serve very particular objectives and that in the end make
an effort to add to the character of the children the main
skills that were described previously. They offer the feeling
of pleasure to children and offer them knowledge. There-
fore, their aim is the supply of positive emotions as well as
the insurance of the main emotional skills that are important
for their development (Giessen, 2015; Iten & Petko, 2016).
Great importance is also given to the emotional design of
the games (color, shape, expression, and dimensionality of
game characters) and the integration of emotional elements
to induce specific emotions in learners (Plass et al., 2020)
because emotions play a prime role inside the structure and
experience of serious games because is connected with the
learning processes (Anolli et al., 2010) and are a significant
part of our life. Because hormones are associated with emo-
tional intelligence and as a result affect the maintenance of
homeostasis, efforts are being made to apply an intelligent
emotional layer to serious games to improve the affective
power of the agent, create more realistic emotional beha-
viors, and have a positive impact on the player’s emotional
intelligence skills (Samani & Polydorou, 2017).
Drigas & Papoutsi, 2019; Fernández & Fernández 2019).
Moreover, the importance of emotions and emotional in-
telligence in the educational context is growing and beco-
ming more conclusive (Torres & Saenz-López, 2019).
To develop emotional intelligence skills, the utilization
of games is important and effective (Arzone et al., 2020;
Drigas et al. 2017; Karabatzaki et al. 2018; Papoutsi et al.
2018;) and several worthwhile efforts have been made to
create games that aim to the improvement of emotional in-
telligence and its important elements (Drigas & Kokkalia,
2014; Khaled & Vasalou, 2014; Kokkalia et al., 2016; San-
tos et al., 2021) mostly on children and adolescents with
typical development and those in the autism spectrum. Ga-
mes have a remarkable driving force and are still growing in
popularity. In addition, studies have shown that gamification
can make a significant contribution to increasing emotional
well-being and emotional intelligence and make the teaching
process more interesting and accessible to all students while
addressing any difficulties they may encounter (Arzone et
al., 2020; Lee & Loo, 2021; Narimari et al., 2019).
Serious games could be a complementary tool to su-
pport the development of 21st- skills (such as commu-
nication, collaboration, social and cultural skills, creati-
vity, critical thinking, problem-solving, empathy, etc.)
required to have a better quality of life and adapt suc-
cessfully to modern society (Karyotaki & Drigas, 2016;
Romero et al., 2015; Torres et al., 2020). In addition,
serious games that focus on improving emotional skills
also strengthen the immune system, making it more re-
silient as emotional intelligence contributes positively to
dealing with stressors resulting in better homeostasis and
physical condition (Behbahani et al., 2020; McGregor &
Bonnis, 2016). As far as the definition of serious games is
concerned, as the years have progressed, various and im-
Table 1.
Definitions for serious games.
(Clark Abt, 1970)
Traditional games are used
(Zyda, 2005)
“Serious game: a mental contest, played with a computer
specific rules that uses ente
tainment to further government or
corporate training, education, health, public policy, and strategic communication objectives.”
(Michael & Chen, 2006)
“A serious gam
e is a game in which education (in its various forms) is the primary goal, r
ther than entertainment”.
(Derryberry, 2007)
What makes serious games stand out from the rest is that they focus on specific and inte
tionally educational results
serious, considerable changes in efficiency and behavior.
(Susi et al., 2007)
Games that are used for instruction, advertisement, simulation
and/or education and that are designed to work
computers or consoles of videogames.
(Shute et al.,2009)
They are games that have a clear and carefully studied educational objective and that are not primarily destined for entertai
(Rego et al, 2010)
Games that allow the player to achieve a specific goal using the element of entertainment and dedicatio
n provided by the game
(Hendrix et al., 2012)
Serious Games are interactive simulations
are based on the game and in which the user undertakes an active role
progress and application.
(Mayer, 2014)
Serious Games have a significant impact on the user given that they transmit knowledge through a very enjoyable process in
comparison to traditional teaching. Serious Games focus on knowledge and
learning through the provision to the user of the
same ‘excitement’ that is provided by any other game that focuses simply on entertainment.
(Arnab et al.2015)
Serious Games have in their center the pedagogical dimension, differentiated
the rest of the games that focus mainly on
the entertainment of the user.
From a pedagogical point of view, Serious Games have been created for entertainment purposes,
having however always as their basis the education, the instruction, and the transmission of knowledge to their us
ers. Serious
Games offer a unique experience and mainly a meaningful and successful ‘co-existence’ of entertainment and learning.
(Becker, 2021)
Serious Games are a subset of games targeting
changing in behavior, attitude, health, u
and knowledge.
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Retos, número 46 · 2022 (3º trimestre)
these articles and opinions that had no link to serious games
and that did not deal with the significance of the latter for
the cultivation of skills-capabilities in the domain of emo-
tional intelligence.
Data extraction and quality quantication
To achieve the best possible and more proper evaluation
of the data that were gathered, there was a study to com-
prehend whether the articles referred exclusively to serious
games and not in general to Apps. That was made possible
with the existence of some basic indicators of evaluation
and, more specifically, the degrees and the quality scale that
was defined by two researchers. On one hand, Connolly
defined the effectiveness of the articles with three criteria,
using numbers according to the quality of the research (1:
low, 2: medium, 3: high), with the higher possible score
being 15 (Connolly, 2012). Yusoff dealt more with the de-
gree of reference of the issue and, more specifically, with
the following numbers: 0 if there was no relevance, 1 if it
was partially analyzed and 2 if it was fully analyzed, while
the final and highest score that could be achieved was 24
(Yusoff, 2010).
Extended research was realized regarding the plethora
of serious games that refer to the cultivation of skills in the
domain of emotional intelligence. Therefore, to be able to
conduct an analysis and an evaluation in the best and most
effective way possible of the articles and the studies that
were used for the present research, there was a classifica-
tion of the former as far as their objective and their con-
tent is concerned. All the games are related to emotional
intelligence but there was a division into three sections for
better distinction and deepening of the subject under consi-
deration. The sections are the following: A) Serious games
and emotional intelligence (in general but also concerning
specific emotional skills), B) Serious games and empathy,
and C) Serious games, emotional intelligence, and special
educational needs.
Serious games and emotional intelligence
“e-Estesia” is designed to improve emotion regulation in
patients with impulse control disorders and other disorders
characterized by inhibitory control deficits (Mena-Moreno
et al., 2021). “e-Estesia” runs on password-protected An-
Our literature review has concentrated on collecting
serious games designed to enhance emotional intelligence
skills for all age groups. The serious games found were ai-
med at developing emotional intelligence and general emo-
tional skills, but some of them focused only on developing
empathy, which is a key competence of emotional intelli-
gence. Also, several of these serious games were applied
to children with special educational needs. To have more
uniformity in the results and better distinction, we made
an internal division of studies into serious games that culti-
vate emotional intelligence in general, games that cultivate
empathy, a key component of emotional intelligence, and
games that cultivate emotional intelligence in people with
special emotional needs.
Material and Methods
Search procedure/analysis
In the middle of 2021, there was essential and quite
effective research that helped make clear the act of studying
the bibliography which refers to the very significance of se-
rious games, and that, certainly, helped make evident the
role that the latter play to cultivate the greatest extent pos-
sible the skills of emotional intelligence. More specifically,
research was conducted on the web to gather the necessary
bibliography. The studies refer to research and analyses that
were conducted and published during the period between
2010 and 2021.
As far as the electronical sources are concerned, what
were used are the following: Medline (PubMed version),
Science Direct, and ACM Digital Library. Keywords that
were used: “serious games”, “emotional intelligence”,
“emotional intelligence skills”, “empathy”, “autism”, “spe-
cial educational needs”. In table 2 the results from the data-
base are presented.
Inclusion procedure
The main criterion that should be taken into conside-
ration to understand the way this particular research was
conducted and, of course, the method of assembling and
reaching a conclusion is the exact study of solely scientific
analyses and other corresponding research that are properly
reasoned and founded upon and real data. Furthermore,
it is important to mention the fact that the most important
keyword used was the concept of serious games and emo-
tional intelligence. As a result, there was an exclusion of all
Table 2.
A total number of papers were identified from each database, identified following the screening, selected as meeting inclusion criteria, and quality coded over 9.
Number of papers found by
database search
Number of papers identified following
screening for serious games terms
Number of papers s
lected as
meeting inclusion criteria
Number of papers
rated over 9
Science Direct
ACM Digital
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gh the game in question the degree to which the player can
and is offered the opportunity to work in the context of a
group and to be able by extension to operate harmoniously
but also effectively and profitably in the company, to make
the best results possible a reality and for the prestige of the
company (in the game) and of the team in real life to be am-
plified. The implementation of the FLIGBY serious game
made it possible to assess students’ EI skills and helped to
develop these skills.
Cejudo et al., (2019) examined the effectiveness of a vi-
deo game named “Spock” on emotional intelligence and psy-
chosocial adjustment of adolescents. “Spock” is based on the
four branch model of EI (Identifying and perceiving emo-
tions, Emotional facilitation, Emotional understanding, and
Emotional regulation). The study involved 92 adolescents
aged 17 to 18 years. In the game, the user is asked to give
the most appropriate solution to hypothetical intrapersonal
and interpersonal situations. The results confirmed signifi-
cant differences in emotional intelligence, overall behavior,
problem externalization, adaptation skills, and personal ad-
justment as a result of the program being implemented vali-
dating it as an effective intervention tool.
DeRosier & Thomas (2019) presented “Hall of He-
roes”, an adventure game where the player navigates in a
virtual school and engages with other characters to solve
a social problem that arises through strategies. This inte-
raction aims to improve impulse control, communication,
cooperation, social initiation, empathy, and emotion regu-
lation. A sample of 29 youths was recruited for the game
and results showed significant improvements in the ability
to interact with others (both peers and family members)
as well as to receive affection and express emotions with
others, compared to young people who did not complete
the game. In addition, research has shown a reduction in
feelings of anxiety, depression, and despair for the youth
that completed the intervention game.
Emotion Detectives (ED), a game funded by the Finni-
sh National Board of Education, was designed to promote
children’s acquisition of emotional knowledge skills (e.g.,
recognizing, appreciating, and understanding emotions
and their expressions), prosocial behaviors (e.g., helping,
sharing, comforting, and showing concern for others), and
problem-solving abilities (Koivula et al., 2017). It was con-
sidered an intervention tool designed for ages 5-12 and it
was implemented in children aged 5-6 for 8 weeks. In the
game, the player creates an Emotion Detective office and as
a detective tries to solve various social and socio-emotional
problems together with his virtual assistant, Aksu. Also, an
additional incentive is a fact that players compete with simi-
lar companies in the city and must increase the reputation
of their newly established office by collecting reputation
points resulting in gaining new tools with which they can
droid portable devices (tablets) and is connected via Blue-
tooth to a sensor that transmits physiological data [heart rate
(HR) and heart rate variability (HRV) from the participant
to the device. the game was applied to 26 patients under-
going treatment for (Gambling Disorders) GD. The game
takes place on a tropical island where players learn with the
help of weather phenomena to regulate their emotions, es-
pecially stressful ones, through proper breathing and good
sitting posture. The results were encouraging in terms of
the game’s contribution to emotion regulation in people
with impulse control disorders. There are plenty of simi-
lar games intended to practice emotion regulation through
biofeedback to increase the decision-making performance
demonstrating in this way that serious games can play an
auxiliary and reinforcing role in improving this emotional
skill (Jerčić & Sundstedt, 2019). Videogames also play an
important role in cultivating and promoting emotion reg-
ulation to improve mental health, emotional health, and
well-being (Villani et al., 2018).
“My Brain Works” (MBW) is a serious game designed
for people suffering from dementia to foster their emo-
tional and social intelligence to improve their quality of
life (Berenbaum et al., 2020). In the game, sessions par-
ticipated twenty-seven people with dementia (PwD), and
through different activities on 23 game screens, there was
an effort the enhancement of emotional and social skills.
Results illustrated that a serious game can exercise ESI
(Emotional and Social Intelligence) capabilities that may
be present in dementia. It can also be used as a more ac-
curate tool for evaluating cognitive function because when
the game is played, the user is relaxed compared to a more
formal examination where the user can be anxious and feel
threatened thus influencing the results and helping himself.
Almeida et al., (2019) occupied with the importance
of the game FLIGBY, for the users-players to acquire the
necessary emotional skills and for the scientists to compre-
hend the role that the application has in achieving the objec-
tive. Forty-nine students from the undergraduate courses
of Management and Computer Engineering took part in
the game. FLIGBY is a game that refers to the appropriate
management of a company that deals with the production
of wine – a winery – and to the achievement of the best
possible results as far as the economic spectrum is concer-
ned. Therefore, for the users to achieve something like this,
what is needed as a requirement is the insurance of a terra-
in-climate of harmony in the interior of the company, and
thus the achievement of cooperation to a more general con-
text in the company. As a result, the individuals-users learn
to promote the dialogue and the act of working as a group
and at the same time develop positive emotions toward the
rest of the members of the group, in which they are inclu-
ded. Parallelly, the researcher can understand easier throu-
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Retos, número 46 · 2022 (3º trimestre)
move to the next level of the game and solve other cases.
An evaluation of the game after its application in two Finni-
sh daycare centers showed an improvement in socio-emo-
tional knowledge and collaborative learning.
Herodotou et al., (2011) conducted research regarding
the role of trait emotional intelligence in gamers’ prefe-
rences for play and frequency of gaming. The research in
question referred in total to 1051 users that were involved
with a particular game that is linked with the themes of war
and battles. The game in question is called WoW (World
of War) and it is founded upon the organization of wars and
other corresponding raids in towns, reigns, and military ba-
ses. The assessment regarding that application shows that it
is a game application that is founded upon the organization
of strategies and upon the feeling of trying to survive. As a
result, it is quite evident that it is related to the protection
of the human species and, more specifically, of the soldiers
against extinction. Therefore, the users-supporters of the
game in question appear to be cultivating to a great extent
their skills and they manage that way to amplify their emo-
tionality and sociability but also their actions in various cir-
cumstances. Moreover, this study showed that games are
suitable places for people to express their emotions. Also,
a positive relationship between trait EI and social prefe-
rences for play and a negative relationship between trait EI
and achievement preferences for play were found. These
findings suggest that players’ emotional characteristics are
more likely to motivate specific game uses.
Serious games and empathy
Various games have been developed to foster empathy
and pro-social behavior in different contexts to impro-
ve emotional and social intelligence (Drigas & Papoutsi,
2016). Papoutsi & Drigas (2016) presented an overview
with representative studies until the year of 2016 on ga-
mes that have as an aim the detection and development of
empathy on important issues. In the present research, we
operate in addition to the above studies by listing later ga-
mes that were identified as far as empathy was concerned.
A serious game that showed promising results in em-
pathy and prosocial behavior is “Com@Viver”, which was
designed to study bystander reactions and cultivate empa-
thy in cyberbullying situations (Ferreira et al., 2021). The
game was implemented in 221 students (7th and 8th-gra-
ders) in classroom settings with results showing a positive
impact on players’ empathy and an improvement in ado-
lescents’ cognitive empathy and prosociality in cyberbull-
ying. The challenge was to win a seat on a year’s bus trip,
where there was a limited number of seats. To do this,
each group of players must perform tasks to organize the
trip while interacting with social agents and two other co-
lleagues in a (hypothetical) social network. Several games
have been created to inform about issues of bullying and
try to cultivate empathy for changing perspectives and
successfully dealing with such phenomena (Calvo-Morata
et al., 2020).
Another game that is focused on the care of persons
with disabilities is “World of Empa” (Sterkenburg et al.,
2019). The player comes in contact with various charac-
ters and more specifically with a blind boy, a girl with
multiple disabilities, a father, a mother, a baby, and a
boy without disabilities. It is a game that includes six le-
vels of basic educational situations and questions about
the main educational and interaction problems that the
characters face. The game aims to discover the effect of
sensitive and empathetic reactions to situations and simul-
taneously have a positive impact on the empathic levels of
the players toward people with disabilities. A total of 83
participants participated in the study and the results de-
monstrated that there was a small short-term effect on the
bias and escalation of empathy measurements. Moreover,
there was a slight improvement in participants ‘ability to
transfer imaginatively to the characters’ experiences with
Tappetina is an empathic serious game about collabo-
rative storytelling (Skaraas et al., 2018). Each player has
a smartphone and the purpose of the game is for all the
players together to make a story from the elements/themes
that the game gives and are related to real-life scenarios.
Each player must continue the story from the point where
the previous player has stopped. In this way, they practi-
ce their imagination and at the same time, they cultivate
their empathic abilities as they have to put themselves into
the position of the character in the story. A first assessment
of the game was made in a workshop that took place in
Norway where they participated 12 teenagers (13 years old
and older) and the majority of the participants showed an
innate ability to use their imagination to rely on history,
often forming real, empathetic links with fiction.
Serious games, emotional intelligence, and special
educational needs
Literature reviews have studied the fields of serious
games, emotional intelligence, and special educatio-
nal needs. More specifically the work of (Hassan et al.,
2021) presents an extensive review of 40 serious games
between 2000 and 2019 for the improvement of emo-
tional intelligence and social behavior in individuals with
ASD. Another representative study is that of Grossard’s
et al. (2017) which focuses on serious games for indivi-
duals with ASD from the year 2010 to the year 2017 that
establishes the immediate interrelation between emotio-
nal and social skills. In our study, supplementary articles
were used to achieve a final study of the topic. An assess-
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Retos, número 46 · 2022 (3º trimestre)
takes place on an island where the player must form parts
of several islands in an archipelago through activities that
aim to improve the behavioral and emotional skills and
attitudes of patients with impulse-related disorders. A pi-
lot test was held with 24 patients and 14 healthy controls.
The game contains emotional elements such as affective
speech and technology that can detect the emotional state
of the user to help patients with relaxation skills, self-con-
trol, and emotional regulation strategies. The pilot study
demonstrated that patients started to show new coping
styles with negative emotions in normal stress life situ-
Digital games, in general, are a rapidly evolving field
that is increasingly penetrating the educational process
not only because of the dynamics that distinguish them
but also because of the student-centered learning model
that they represent. At the same time, they can cultivate
emotional skills and evoke emotions through the script
and the game work environment (Hemenover, S. H., &
Bowman, 2018; Kokkalia et al, 2017; Lara-Cabrera &
Camacho, 2019).
Serious games are a fast-growing field and can be ap-
plied to a wide range of application areas, e.g., the army,
the government, and health (Almeida & Simoes, 2019).
At the same time, the use of serious games and ICTs, in
general, is widespread and particularly useful in the field of
education and they can be used as learning tools to enhance
the effectiveness of the educational process at all levels of
education and in different courses such as physical educa-
tion (Aguilar, 2019; González et al., 2018) affecting the
performance of a physical activity (Vinagre et al., 2021).
Serious games could be a good addition to the more tradi-
tional methods of teaching children new skills and will rev-
olutionize the way we deliver content to students (Braun
et al., 2020). Serious games are an original and fun way to
convey a message to the target audience. Furthermore, the
fun side of games enhances the experience and therefore
the transfer of information. The power of games and ICT
tools to immerse, engage and motivate, and their potential
to cultivate and facilitate critical thinking, creativity, prob-
lem-solving skills, innovation, emotional intelligence,
awareness, socialization, collaboration, communication,
and behavioral change have led to the development of
more games of this nature to develop real-life scenarios
(Nieto et al., 2022; Papanastasiou et al, 2017; Petridis &
Traczykowski, 2021). Finally, serious games provide feed-
back, either from the game itself or from interaction with
other players.
ment is made of the fact that serious games carry a specific
responsibility for children with autism. In an article, that
was published in the year 2014 what is made quite clear is
the significance that the existence and usage of serious ga-
mes appear to have for the cultivation of skills that relate
to emotional intelligence in people suffering from autism.
That research showcased in the end that the utilization of
various digital tools – including tablets, cellphones, and
other similar media – helps people with a high degree of
mental disorders and is mainly an indicator of autism to be
able to respond according to those kinds of skills and to be
able by extension to develop themselves more creatively
and in many different aspects of their life and personality
(Zakari et al., 2014).
EmoTEA is a serious game developed as a mobile
application for children with ASD to improve and develop
their emotional intelligence and more specifically emotion
recognition and emotional expression skills either their
own or other people’s (Garcia-Garcia et al., 2021). The
game is aimed at children aged between 6 and 12 years
old and it consists of 3 different games. The first game is
about recognizing emotions from cards while the second
game helps children to express emotions with their faces
by imitating. The third game is related to the recognition
of emotions depending on contexts. Applying software to
3 children with ASD and their psychotherapists has shown
that it can be a useful tool for teaching emotion-related
CISELexia(Computer-Based Method for Improving
Self-Awareness in Children with Dyslexia) is a game aimed
at dyslexic children to increase their self-awareness, a ba-
sic element of emotional intelligence (Rahmawati et al.,
2019). It is divided into five sections related to self-awa-
reness: “Know Yourself, Know your family, Know your
strengths, Know your weakness, Know your emotion”.
Based on the implementation results CISELexia can increa-
se the child’s self-awareness state according to the rubric
questionnaire given by about 10%.
Nakpong et al. (2019) designed six interactive multi-
media games to enhance the emotional intelligence (EI) of
deaf and hard of hearing (DHH) learners. The games were
tested in 10 DHH adolescents aged 13 to 15 in Thailand and
all of them were related to emotional intelligence skills.
The results of the study showed a significant improvement
in emotional-self-control, empathy, problem-solving,
self-regard, life satisfaction, and peace in all participants.
Furthermore, results demonstrated that games could have
a positive impact on the cultivation and improvement of EI
in deaf and hard-of-hearing learners.
“Island” is a serious video game that was created and
developed within the European research project “Play-
Mancer” (Fernández-Aranda et al., 2012). The game
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Retos, número 46 · 2022 (3º trimestre)
In our article, there was an important plethora of
high-quality articles and research that offered necessary
and particularly helpful information for the realization of
the present study. More particularly, the international bib-
liography was large in numbers and it included elements
that referred to a vast spectrum of activities and of applica-
tions that can allow the development of the main emotional
skills-capabilities of the people. Furthermore, all the games
and the applications that were presented and developed
were purely games, and under no circumstances did they
give the feeling that they were an activity or an exercise for
the research.
A limitation in research and outcome of conclusions
was that some of the studies did not give all the details con-
cerning the design of the game as well as all the activities
the user would play to cultivate the emotional skills. This
would be a great help in building future serious games with
the same goal. Moreover, where this is feasible it would be
preferable for the same games to be played again either in a
different sample or in other populations of other countries
for better data extraction and comparison of effects on the
skill that was intended to be cultivated.
Finally, it is necessary to mention the fact that the stud-
ies included information exclusively through the course of
action of the participants during the game activity with
which they were preoccupied and they offered no other
kind of information regarding the general course of action
of the individuals that took part. This could be considered
an inhibitory factor for an informed and complete picture
of the issue and at the same time, it put on hold the effec-
tiveness of the study for the elements and the actions that
took place in the everyday life of the individuals and that
are included in the development of their emotional intel-
ligence skills.
On the positive side, the study showed that the use of
serious games is very promising in the development, culti-
vation, and improvement of emotional skills such as empa-
thy, emotion regulation, emotion recognition, and emo-
tional expression. Serious games which improve emotional
intelligence could be an effective way for better perfor-
mance on the mental and physical level, emotional adjust-
ment, life satisfaction, and increase in self-esteem (Fleming
et al., 2017; Fernández-Abascal & Martín-Díaz, 2015; Mc-
Callum, 2012). Additionally, the research demonstrated
their positive contribution to the cultivation of emotional
skills in children with special educational needs and with
more application in the field of autistic disorders. An ad-
ditional suggestion is to create and implement games that
target either exclusively one or more emotional skills such
as those presented in the pyramid model of emotional intel-
ligence (Drigas & Papoutsi, 2018; Drigas & Pappas, 2017;
Maslow, 1981) (see Figure 1).
The pyramid should be read bottom to top; each lower
level needs to be met before we progress upward. Serious
games could be created that will focus on one of the levels
of the pyramid of emotional intelligence, thus cultivating
the specific skill each time, or aim at more than one skill,
contributing in both ways to the development and im-
provement of emotional intelligence. Regarding that, “The
Wellbeing Game” is an effort to promote well-being and
self-actualization (Tolks et al., 2019) and another effort has
been made for serious games that promote transcendental
and universal values (Marini et al., 2018). In addition, the
creation of serious games aimed at improving metacogni-
tive skills will enhance the cultivation of emotional intel-
ligence because metacognition contributes to the proper
functioning of the cognitive, emotional, and psychophysi-
ological mechanisms (Drigas & Mitsea, 2020). In modern
times it is essential to create appropriate metacognitive and
meta-emotional training learning environments with the
aim of self-actualization of individuals (Drigas et al., 2021;
Murillo & Manzano, 2021).
Training and collaboration with multiple stakeholders
(educators, researchers, policy-makers, psychologists, and
game developers) are needed for the creation of games tar-
geting emotional intelligence skills. Serious games, when
used meaningfully, appropriately, and in combination with
human interaction, can contribute positively to the devel-
opment of social-emotional learning not only in students
but in adults too and strengthen those skills with effective
pedagogy (Lim-Fei et al., 2016).
Although several games related to emotional intelli-
gence have been built and released, there is still a lack of
evidence that they are a sufficient tool for teaching emo-
Figure 1. Pyramid model of Emotional Intelligence (Drigas & Papoutsi, 2018)
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The use of serious games provides a new dimension for treating individuals with Autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Researchers have carried out a substantial amount of work in this domain with promising results in the past two decades. This study reviews the literature to design serious games to improve social behaviour in an individual with ASD. Forty serious games, developed between 2000 to 2019, were selected, and their design was evaluated based on the conceptual framework from the literature. The Connolly scale was used to evaluate the quality of the study. The analysis shows that significant work in this field has targeted children with high-functioning ASD or Asperger syndrome. Apart from general social behaviour, more focus is titled on emotion recognition/production. In the design prospect, serious games should have a rather larger sample size; it also requires clinical validation and regular follow-ups. We summarized the shortcomings in the existing serious games' design and suggested improvements that can increase serious games' effectiveness for people with ASD.