Academic journal article Educational Technology & Society

The Effectiveness Evaluation among Different Player-Matching Mechanisms in a Multi-Player Quiz Game

Academic journal article Educational Technology & Society

The Effectiveness Evaluation among Different Player-Matching Mechanisms in a Multi-Player Quiz Game

Article excerpt

Introduction

Competition is ubiquitous in daily life. Political campaigns, sports events, business rivalries and academic contests hosted at schools are all competition-related (Czaja & Cummings, 2009). Competition has been defined as a social process that occurs when people are rewarded on the basis of how their performance compares with that of others performing the same task or participating in the same event (Coakley, 1997). Therefore competitive activities are typically associated with the ambition to win and outperform opponents (Kilduff, Elfenbein, & Staw, 2010). To win, participants draw upon their potential to perform more exceptionally (Tauer & Harackiewicz, 2004). For example, bicycle racers perform better when competing with other racers in a competition than when practicing alone (Triplett, 1898). Competition also triggers the intrinsic motivation of participants and the intention to continue to participate in competitive activities (Deci & Ryan, 1985; Harackiewicz, Barron, & Elliot, 1998). Additionally, competition enables people to learn from their failures, stimulates the learning motivation of participants and prompts the losers to improve themselves and continually strive toward victory (Lam, Yim, Law, & Cheung, 2004). In other words, competition exerts positive effects on performance improvement, participation motivation and learning motivation.

Although competition may enable losers to understand their flaws, and motivate them to learn, it may also reduce their self-confidence and learning motivation due to continual defeats (Fulop, 2009). Thus, any forms of competition, whether direct, indirect, or cooperative, can also exert negative effects among the losers (Graham, 1976). However, according to Csikszentmihalyi's flow theory, the flow state, which causes people to thoroughly immerse themselves in the activities, leading to optimal experience (Csikszentmihalyi & LeFevre, 1989), occurs when people concentrate on a competitive activity, and only when people's skills and the difficulty of competition achieve a certain level of balance (Csikzentmihalyi, 1975; Rheinberg, 2008). In other words, if we attempt to get people immersed in a competitive activity, the skill level among competitors must be equal; when the disparity between skill levels is too large, it prevents the competitors from entering a state of flow, and the competitor with inferior skills can lose interest and confidence in the activities because of continual defeats and frustration. Hence, the ideal approach to reduce the negative effects of competitions is to create a fair competitive environment in which the skills of competitors are balanced, so everyone has a chance to win; that is, a fair player-matching mechanism is critical in competitions.

Because all games involve competition (Bright & Harvey, 1984; Crookall, Oxford, & Saunders, 1987), multiplayer online games (MOGs) are also a typical competitive activity that includes multi-player competition against players. Also, MOGs include the general characteristic of digital games, such as fantasy, mystery and control, so they can elicit enjoyment from participants; thus, they have currently become an important recreation activity among young people. In other words, MOGs also reflect the positive effects which competition exerts, and attract many students' involvement. Therefore, in recent decades, since Prensky (2001) began to advocate the use of digital game-based learning (DGBL), more and more researchers have studied educational MOGs; they integrate instructional contents and the features of MOGs, to promote student learning motivation and performance with numerous positive outcomes (Cheng, Kuo, Lou, & Shih, 2012; Tsai, Tsai, & Lin, 2015; Tsai, Yu, & Hsiao, 2012). All of these studies expected educational MOGs to achieve the positive effects of competition; that is, students can repeatedly improve their knowledge while engaging in games, in order to win, or outperform other players. …

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