An update to the systematic literature review of empirical evidence of the impacts and outcomes of computer games and serious games

Elizabeth A. Boyle, Thomas Hainey, Thomas M. Connolly, Grant Gray, Jeffrey Earp, Michela Ott, Theodore Lim, Manuel Ninaus, Claudia Ribeiro, Joao Pereira

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291 Citations (Scopus)


Continuing interest in digital games indicated that it would be useful to update Connolly et al.'s (2012) systematic literature review of empirical evidence about the positive impacts and outcomes of games. Since a large number of papers was identified in the period from 2009 to 2014, the current review focused on 143 papers that provided higher quality evidence about the positive outcomes of games. Connolly et al.'s multidimensional analysis of games and their outcomes provided a useful framework for organising the varied research in this area. The most frequently occurring outcome reported for games for learning was knowledge acquisition, while entertainment games addressed a broader range of affective, behaviour change, perceptual and cognitive and physiological outcomes. Games for learning were found across varied topics with STEM subjects and health the most popular. Future research on digital games would benefit from a systematic programme of experimental work, examining in detail which game features are most effective in promoting engagement and supporting learning.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)178-192
JournalComputers & Education
Early online date10 Nov 2015
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2016


  • Computer games
  • Serious games
  • Entertainment
  • Engagement
  • Learning
  • Systematic literature review

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