Concept and Objectives

The vision of the 80Days research and development project is grounded on effectively utilising a slice of the overwhelming success of computer games for educational purposes.


The development of immersive digital educational games (DEG) is a dawning and highly promising, but also highly challenging, technology. Computer games offer engaging and inspiring virtual environments within which entirely new, motivating, and meaningful learning experiences and contexts can be realized. Their simulative characteristics strongly contribute to the paradigm of knowledge construction; moreover, multiplayer games serve the ideas of collaborative learning. DEGs basically aim at using the time spent on playing for educational purposes while retaining the recreational value of gaming. Furthermore, such games aim at facilitating learning by providing inspiring learning experiences in an appealing and meaningful learning context. 80Days has the ambitious mission to significantly improve the scientific and technological state-of-the-art of digital games for educational purposes, as well as to pave the way for educational games to successfully enter the computer game and educational markets. This mission shall be accomplished by addressing two primary interrelated challenges:

Virtual game environments, and the degree of freedom they facilitate, challenge existing approaches to adaptive educational technologies. In contrast to traditional approaches to technology-enhanced learning, individualization of learning experiences as well as the adaptation to individual learners with individual aims, needs, abilities, and prerequisites requires an in-depth understanding of the learners and their behaviour within a DEG. While traditional approaches to intelligent and adaptive educational technologies primarily focus on knowledge and learning progress, DEGs constrain the consideration of aspects such as individual preferences (in terms of visual styles or gaming genre), individual motivation, collaboration, or (problem solving) behaviour within the virtual environment. As a consequence, the project will significantly extend and integrate models of adaptive personalised learning with those of adaptive interactive storytelling, and tailor them to the requirements of digital educational games. First ideas pursuing this direction come, for example, from Albert, Pivec, Spörk-Fasching, and Maurer (2003).

On the other hand, a weak spot of utilizing digital games for educational purposes - especially those that address older children who are used to the enormous quality and appeal of commercial computer games - is the high level of costs for developing high-quality immersive DEGs. These costs must be justified by educational efficacy, by an appropriate balance between gaming and learning, and - most importantly - by the market for specific educational game genres. 80Days will establish a technical as well as psycho-pedagogical framework that enables reducing development costs and shortening development lifecycles. Essentially, this shall be accomplished by providing technologies for adaptive interventions, interactive and adaptive storytelling and especially by merging rich and appealing virtual game environments with existing (learning) resources, enabling the creation of multiple games or game scenarios.

As a logical consequence, 80Days addresses two major objectives, that is, (a) advancing frameworks of non-invasive personalization/adaptation on the macro as well as the micro levels (in terms of theory and technology) and (b) establishing a methodology for reducing the costs of developing DEGs. More detailed, the specific goals are to establish a theoretical and technological framework that allows to

  • interpret and assess the learners knowledge/learning progress within the game environment in a non-invasive way,
  • interpret and assess the learner’s motivational/emotional state within the game environment in a non-invasive way,
  • provide non-invasive educational interventions on the micro level by personalized guidance or hinting
  • provide educational interventions on the macro level by sequencing of learning situations and activities and by adapting the storyline,
  • integrate existing (learning) resources into DEGs,
  • develop different (game) scenarios on the basis of one pool of learning and gaming resources, and
  • evaluating DEGs and their features in a scientifically sound way.

The interdisciplinary approach to both objectives will deliver an innovative and, most importantly, scientifically sound methodological framework for developing and utilizing immersive digital games for educational purposes. Moreover, interdisciplinary research and development, which can be viewed as smoothly meshing gearwheels, will provide a significant advance in understanding active human learning processes and, consequently, an important evolution of adaptive educational technology.The accomplishment of these goals will result in the provision of the reference model for immersive DEGs and also for adaptive educational technology in general. This in turn will increase the acceptance of DEGs in educational settings and push the commercialization of competitive DEGs. Indicators of 80Days’ success are seen in

  • the exploitation of results in terms of scientific impact (e.g., the number of high-quality publications),
  • general impact (e.g., sales figures of the envisaged methodology guide book), and
  • the extent of commercial descendents.