Defining a Conceptual Framework for a Toolkit to Game Design: The Gamers4Nature Project

Keywords: conceptual framework, Game Design, Game Creation, Gamers4Nature, Toolkit


Seeking to capitalize the interest of younger audiences in game creation activities, the Gamers4Nature project aims to develop a toolkit designed to support game design by allowing the manipulation of the several elements that compose a game. Prior to the toolkit’s development, there was the need to establish the respective conceptual framework. This paper describes the process of defining the project’s conceptual framework. Based on Fullerton’s perspective on game design, the framework was defined following a participatory design approach with the participation of different stakeholders (postgraduate students with extensive knowledge about game design and experts in the game design field). To ease the discussion sessions, a physical artifact (19 hexagonal pieces, and a honeycomb structured board) was developed. Results suggest that a non-linear approach to game design may promote not only the definition of the game’s structure and gameplay but also allow a contextualised analysis of all its elements.


Download data is not yet available.


Adams, E. (2014). Fundamentals of game design (3rd edition). Berkley, CA: New Riders. Anderson, C. A. (2004). An update on the effects of playing violent video games. Journal of Adolescence, 27(1), 113–122.

Anderson, C. A., & Bushman, B. J. (2001). Effects of violent video games on aggressive behavior, aggressive cognition, aggressive affect, physiological arousal, and prosocial behavior: A Meta-Analytic Review of the Scientific Literature. Psychological Science, 12(5), 353–359.

Bickman, L., & Rog, D. (1998). The SAGE Handbook of Applied Social Research Methods, Thousand Oaks. CA:SAGE Publications, Inc.

Boyle, E. A., Connolly, T. M., Hainey, T., & Boyle, J. M. (2012). Engagement in digital entertainment games: A systematic review. In Computers in Human Behavior (Vol. 28, Issue 3, pp. 771–780).

Briot, J. P., de Azevedo Irving, M., Mendes De Melo, G., Vasconcelos, J. E. F., Alvarez, I., Martin, S., & Wei, W. (2011). A serious game and artificial agents to support intercultural participatory management of protected areas for biodiversity conservation and social inclusion. Proceedings - 2011 2nd International Conference on Culture and Computing, Culture and Computing 2011, 15–20.

Caillois, R. (1990). Os jogos e os homens: a máscara e a vertigem - Trad José Garcez Palha. Lisbon, PT: Cotovia.

Clement, J. (2021, December 21). Number of indie games released on Steam worldwide from 2015 to 2017.

Connolly, T. M., Boyle, E. A., MacArthur, E., Hainey, T., & Boyle, J. M. (2012). A systematic literature review of empirical evidence on computer games and serious games. Computers and Education, 59(2), 661–686.

de Grove, F., Bourgonjon, J., & van Looy, J. (2012). Digital games in the classroom? A contextual approach to teachers’ adoption intention of digital games in formal education. Computers in Human Behavior, 28(6), 2023–2033.

Earp, J. (2015). Game Making for Learning: a Systematic Review of the Research Literature. International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation, 6426–6435. Retrieved December 30,2021 from

Earp, J., Dagnino, F., & Ott, M. (2014). Learning through Game Making: an HCI Perspective. Universal Access in Human-Computer Interaction, 513–524.

Elias, G., Garfield, R., & Gutscheram K. (2012). Characteristics of Games, Massachusetts, USA: The MIT Press.

Fullerton, T. (2014). Game Design Workshop: a playcentric approach to creating innovative games (3rd ed.). Massachusetts, USA: A K Peters/CRC Press Taylor & Francis Group.

Gee, P.J. (2008). Learning and Games. In K. Salen and K. Tekinbaş (Eds.) The Ecology of Games: Connecting Youth, Games, and Learning, Massachusetts, USA: The MIT Press, pp. 21–40.

Giannakos, M. N., & Jaccheri, L. (2018). From players to makers: An empirical examination of factors that affect creative game development. International Journal of Child-Computer Interaction, 18, 27–36.

Good, J., & Howland, K. (2017). Programming language, natural language? Supporting the diverse computational activities of novice programmers. Journal of Visual Languages and Computing, 39, 78–92.

Griffiths, D., & Davies, M. N. O. (2002). Excessive online computer gaming: implications for education. In Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 18(3), 379-380. Doi:

Howland, K., & Good, J. (2015). Learning to communicate computationally with Flip: A bi-modal programming language for game creation. Computers and Education, 80, 224–240.

Huizenga, J. C., ten Dam, G. T. M., Voogt, J. M., & Admiraal, W. F. (2017). Teacher perceptions of the value of game-based learning in secondary education. Computers and Education, 110, 105– 115.

Huizinga, J. (2001). Homo Ludens (S. Perspetiva). São Paulo, BR: Editora Perspectiva.

Hunicke, R., Leblanc, M., & Zubek, R. (2004). MDA: A Formal Approach to Game Design and Game Research. AAAI Workshop on Challenges in Game AI, 30–45. Retrieved Dec 30, 2021

Ivey, J. (2015). How important is a conceptual framework? Pediatric Nursing, 41(3), 145–153.

Joel Michael, X., Martinkova, P., McFarland, J., Wright, A., Cliff, W., Modell, H., & Pat Wenderoth, M. (2017). Validating a conceptual framework for the core concept of “cell-cell communication.” HOW WE TEACH Generalizable Education Research Adv Physiol Educ, 41, 260–265.

Juul, J. (2003). The Game, the Player, the World: Looking for a Heart of Gameness. In M.Copier and J. Raessens (Eds.) Level Up: Digital Games Research Conference Proceeding, Utrecht: Utrecht University, 30–45.

Juul. (2005). Half-Real: Video Games between Rules and Fictional Worlds. Cambdridge: MIT Press.

Ke, F. (2014). An implementation of design-based learning through creating educational computer games: A case study on mathematics learning during design and computing. Computers and Education, 73, 26–39.

Macklin, C., & Sharp, J. (2016). Games, Design and Play: a detailed approach to Iterative Game Design. Massachusetts, USA: Addison-Wesley.

Majuri, J., Koivisto, J., & Hamari, J. (2018). Gamification of education and learning: A review of empirical literature. In J. Koivisto & J.Hamari (Eds.)Proceedings of the 2nd International GamiFIN Conference (GamiFIN 2018), 11–19.

Merhi, O., Faugloire, E., Flanagan, M., & Stoffregen, T. A. (2007). Motion sickness, console video games, and head-mounted displays. Human Factors, 49(5), 920–934.

National Research Council. (2007). Taking Science to School: Learning and Teaching Science in Grades K-8. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.

Ogletree, S. M., & Drake, R. (2007). College students’ video game participation and perceptions: Gender differences and implications. Sex Roles, 56(7), 537-542.

Pontual Falcão, T., Mendes de Andrade e Peres, F., Sales de Morais, D. C., & da Silva Oliveira, G. (2018). Participatory methodologies to promote student engagement in the development of educational digital games. Computers and Education, 116, 161–175.

Robertson, J. (2012). Making games in the classroom: Benefits and gender concerns. Computers and Education, 59(2), 385–398.

Salen, K., & Zimmerman, E. (2004). Rules of Play: Game Design Fundamentals Massachusetts, USA: MIT Press

Sharp, H., Preece, J., & Rogers, Y. (2019). Interaction Design: beyond human-computer interaction (Ed.; 5th Edition).New Jersey, USA: Wiley.

Sousa, M., Zagalo, N., & Oliveira, A. P. (2021). Mechanics or Mechanisms: defining differences in analog games to support game design. 2021 IEEE Conference on Games (CoG), Copenhagen, Denmark, 1–8. DOI:

Vos, N., van der Meijden, H., & Denessen, E. (2011). Effects of constructing versus playing an educational game on student motivation and deep learning strategy use. Computers and Education, 56(1), 127–137.

Dossier no.12 - Emotion and Cognition in Engagement