How a Tangible User Interface Contributes to Desired Learning Outcomes of the Virtual River Serious Game

Robert Jan den Haan*, Jelle van Dijk, Fedor Baart, Mascha van der Voort, Suzanne Hulscher

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionAcademicpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
9 Downloads (Pure)


Serious games are increasingly used to facilitate stakeholder discussion and collaboration. Much attention is given in the game design literature on how to choose and design a serious game’s scope, content, mechanics, and link to reality in order to achieve the game’s intended learning outcomes. In this paper, we focus on how a serious game’s interface and the interaction it elicits contributes to achieving learning outcomes. We do so in the context of the Virtual River, a serious game focused on river management. Following the design and evaluation of a paper prototype of the Virtual River, a design challenge arose as the highly simplified models of reality used was perceived as a black box by non-expert participants, while expert participants perceived it as oversimplified and unrealistic. As hydrodynamic models used in river management practice are in itself perceived by non-experts as a black box, we decided to look for ways to simplify the interaction with such models in the game. Here, we present a tangible user interface for the Virtual River. The interface enables participants to get a better grip on the hydrodynamics of a river system. The system is set up as a discussion platform where the game board and its tangible game pieces help participants express their thoughts and ideas. We argue that using tangible interaction in Virtual River contributes to social learning outcomes by providing hypotheses based on literature and present how we intend to test these hypotheses.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHCI in Games
Subtitle of host publicationFirst International Conference, HCI-Games 2019, Held as Part of the 21st HCI International Conference, HCII 2019, Orlando, FL, USA, July 26–31, 2019, Proceedings
EditorsXiaowen Fang
Place of PublicationCham
Number of pages19
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-030-22602-2
ISBN (Print)978-3-030-22601-5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2019
Event1st International Conference on HCI in Games, HCI-Games 2019 - Orlando, United States
Duration: 26 Jul 201931 Jul 2019

Publication series

NameLecture Notes in Computer Science
ISSN (Print)0302-9743
ISSN (Electronic)1611-3349


Conference1st International Conference on HCI in Games, HCI-Games 2019
Country/TerritoryUnited States


  • Interaction design
  • River management
  • Serious gaming
  • Tangible user interface


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