EGU General Assembly 2022
© Author(s) 2022. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Developing The Planet Academy programme – a practical how-to approach for designing and creating serious educational games (SEGs).

Inez Harker-Schuch
Inez Harker-Schuch
  • The Planet Academy, Denmark (

The 21st century is rapidly shaping up to be one in which technology, particularly information technology (IT), dominates nearly every aspect of human life and, as a result, the demand for a digitally literate and IT-skilled labour force is rapidly increasing. Consequently, education and learning institutions are progressively being required to adopt new media and provide new services to keep pace with the exigencies of this new Information Age. Digital games, in particular, are becoming more widely adopted as they offer unique learning environments that can improve student learning commitment, performance, and enjoyment – and have a lower environmental burden.  While most digital games, including those for recreation, offer elements of learning, serious digital games are designed to train or educate.  Similarly to recreational games, serious games employ 3D visualisations, rewards, stimulation, and emotional connection, competition and constraint, immediate feedback, cognitive conflict, and interactivity e.g. user-friendly player interfaces or avatars.  In addition, SEGs offer situated and conceptualised learning and training, tailored study, development of mastery, personal and self-esteem development, and provide a tactile online learning experience that can also take place in virtual environments that are inaccessible, dangerous or impractical for players to experience in the real world.  Serious games fall into several categories from broad training games, such as 3D simulations and digital interactions, to serious educational games (SEGs), which are games designed with specific learning outcomes, target domain-specific K-20 content knowledge, and use real-life environments to educate students by incorporating specific a priori pedagogical frameworks to train and instruct.  SEGs are, arguably, the most complex serious games to develop as they need to incorporate recreational game development factors i.e., fun, as well as include the relevant pedagogical and curriculum elements and ensure students are able to understand and achieve the specific learning objectives and goals.  Reconciling recreational game theory (programming, mechanics, dynamics, aesthetics/technical art, story/flow, technology, testing /player experience, etc.) with SEG development (curriculum, learning objectives, pedagogical design, assessment, and monitoring, etc.) can be complex and fraught with conflicts and barriers e.g. making the learning of difficult concepts or tasks fun.  This article presents the development and use of The Planet Academy programme and associated series of SEGs in Denmark, Austria, Sweden, and Australia and proposes a pathway towards reconciling many of the conflicts between recreational and SEGs; exploring the conceptualisation, production, pedagogical considerations, and offering a practical, how-to, approach for SEG creation. We demonstrate that SEGs offer a unique, unparalleled medium for learning and offer extraordinary opportunities for improving digital literacy, reducing emissions, cultivating an IT-skilled workforce and, more importantly, drastically increasing student engagement, performance, and learning outcomes in the day-to-day classroom.

How to cite: Harker-Schuch, I.: Developing The Planet Academy programme – a practical how-to approach for designing and creating serious educational games (SEGs)., EGU General Assembly 2022, Vienna, Austria, 23–27 May 2022, EGU22-2249,, 2022.