Achieving Game Goals at All Costs? : The Effect of Reward Structures on Tactics Employed in Educational Military Wargaming
AbstractA key motive in using gaming for educational purposes is to enhance user motivation and involvement to the subject matter. Within military education, games have always been utilized as a means to think clearly about military operations. However, some research results have shown that gaming, regardless of what the game is supposed to portray, is a meaningful activity in itself, and this can distract the learner away from the educational objective. Playing the game, then, becomes similar to competition, such as in sports where the objective is to only win the game. The player directs actions to achieving game goals even though some actions are inappropriate from a learning perspective. To shed light on the discrepancy between playing a game to win and playing a game to learn, we conducted an experiment on cadets playing an educational wargame. By varying the conditions of the game, playing with or without points, while still in line with the learning objective, we were interested to see what impact it had on the tactics employed by cadets. The results showed that adding reward structures, such as points, changed the outcome of the game, that is, groups playing with points played the game more aggressively and utilized the military units more extensively. These findings suggest that changes in the game design, although educationally relevant, may distract learners to be more oriented towards a lusory attitude, in which achieving the game goals becomes players' biggest concern.