Digital materials have recently provided considerable audiovisual stimulation to students, causing them to focus less attention on traditional lectures 1. Learning motivation is closely related to outcomes 2; thus, many people believe digital games to be essential future teaching tools 3. Digital games develop high-level thinking skills such as problem-solving, strategic thinking, resource management, planning and execution, and adaption to changing work scenarios 4. Therefore, developing useful digital learning games is worthy of examination. Mounting evidence has shown that educational games effectively achieve educational goals 5, 6.
However, Gunter et al. 7 indicated that certain learning games are unable to enhance learning motivation effectively because their learning content and game situations are incompatible. Although abundant resources have been invested in game-based learning (GBL) studies worldwide, how to design a game to promote effective learning remains unclear 8. Game designers are able to create interesting games but do not know how to maintain the quality of teaching materials in a game, whereas educators focused on effective educational materials but do not know how to create interesting games 9. Rather than being ineffective, the problem of educational games is that although they are more fun than traditional classroom activities, they are still considered boring. More and more computer-assisted instruction (CAI) systems added game elements into their system, and that causes the boundaries between boring educational games and CAI are unclear 10. If a player does not feel that he was playing a game, then the educational game is boring and not interesting. Learning for players is an incidental consequence 11.
Presenting design details for various game genres is necessary, but macrodesign concepts must also be listed. Some researchers have attempted to design a framework for digital game designers, but such frameworks are difficult to use when the target game genre differs greatly from the default genres used in the research. For example, Choi et al. 12 developed a scale framework that is difficult to apply when designing a puzzle game because some items may not be applicable, such as making players feel like a hero and telling an engaging story. Numerous studies have focused on identifying crucial game factors and developing models, but factors have primarily been limited to a specific genre. How to employ game factors when developing an educational game is critical, and past studies have not solved this problem appropriately.
Game genres were created to generalize the current games, but the classification would change when a new groundbreaking game emerges. Game factors are a higher level design concept and should not be restricted by genre. In this paper, we present macrodesign concepts; starting from categorizing factors, the proposed model describes a thinking process to help people design and test educational games by combining game elements. Our results facilitate the development of more interesting educational games in the future.