sg 13(1): e6

Research Article

Learning programming with serious games

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  • @ARTICLE{10.4108/trans.gbl.01-06.2013.e6,
        author={Matej Zapušek and Jože Rugelj},
        title={Learning programming with serious games},
        journal={EAI Endorsed Transactions on Serious Games},
        keywords={teaching programming, programming concepts, semantic method, serious computer game.},
  • Matej Zapušek
    Jože Rugelj
    Year: 2013
    Learning programming with serious games
    DOI: 10.4108/trans.gbl.01-06.2013.e6
Matej Zapušek1, Jože Rugelj1
  • 1: Univerza v Ljubljani, Pedagoška fakulteta, Kardeljeva ploščad 16, 1000 Ljubljana


Students who are learning to program often have difficulties understanding cognitively complex concepts. Teaching programming is mainly focused on the syntax and features of programs, rather than to a deeper understanding of programming constructs and abstract concepts. Computer game stimulates active learning and presentation of learning content in a variety of contexts that are funny and engaging for students. This has a positive impact on the motivation to learn. This paper deals mainly with defining the programming knowledge and common problems with teaching programming, comparing the properties of novice and experts programmers and introducing the semantic method of teaching programming where one would teach only the semantics of programming constructs unbound to specific programming language in an interactive motivating setting of educational computer game. In this paper we discuss the main characteristics of computer games and specific features which makes them useful in the educational setting. As an example of presented method we introduce a game on the presentation of variables in programming. The game is based on visualizations of different types of variables and on the interpretation of the assignment sentence. The game actively encourages interactivity and deeper learning.