An alternate reality game for language learning: ARGuing for multilingual motivation

Thomas M. Connolly, Mark Stansfield, Thomas Hainey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

133 Citations (Scopus)


Over the last decade, Alternate Reality Games (ARGs), a form of narrative often involving multiple media and gaming elements to tell a story that might be affected by participants' actions, have been used in the marketing and promotion of a number of entertainment related products such as films, computer games and music. This paper discusses the design, development and evaluation of an ARG aimed at increasing the motivations of secondary school level students across Europe in the learning of modern foreign languages. The ARC was developed and implemented as part of a European Commission Comenius project and involved 6 project partners, 328 secondary school students and 95 language teachers from 17 European countries. The collaborative nature of ARGs provides a potentially useful vehicle for developing collaborative activities within an educational context. This paper describes the educational value of ARGs, in particular the ARC for supporting the teaching of modern European languages and the specific activities that were developed around Web 2.0 and gaming that underpinned the ARC and helped promote cooperation and learning within an educational environment. An evaluation of the ARC was conducted using an experimental design of pre-test -> ARC intervention -> post-test. 105 students completed the pre-test, 92 students completed the post-test and 45 students completed both the pre-test and post-test questionnaires. In general, student attitudes towards the ARC were very positive with evidence suggesting that the ARC managed to deliver the motivational experience expected by the students. The majority of students who completed the post-test either agreed or strongly agreed that they would be willing to play the game over a prolonged period of time as part of a foreign language course. In addition, through using the ARC, students believed that they obtained skills relating to cooperation, collaboration and teamwork.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1389-1415
JournalComputers & Education
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2011


  • Alternate reality game
  • Motivation
  • Web2.0
  • Moodle
  • Language education
  • Quests
  • Puppetmaster


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