Cognition and games: Herre Van Oostendorp

A researcher story 

Professor in Human-Media Interaction (Utrecht University)
Mental models, cognition, serious games

Herre van Oostendorp is a professor in Human-Media Interaction at Utrecht University in Netherlands, at the Department of Information and Computing Sciences, section Game Research.

Prof. Herre van Oostendorp

Q1- First of all, we would like to ask you which is your background?
A1- Cognitive Psychology. I got my traing at, and PhD from the University of Amsterdam.

Q2- Your main research domain regards cognition and specifically how games could be used for learning. How and when did you start your research? and what was your motivation at the beginning of your career?
A2- I was and I am still interested in how individuals process complex information. First I had interest in multimedia and in human text processing, and that evolved in serious games research.

Q3- What is the challenge for cognition today, that we assist to advancements in immersive and interactive technologies and videogames now more and more available for VR visors?
A3- VR can often be very or even too complex for users or players. The VR should adapt to the level of the player and give meaningful support.   I think that that is a main issue today, particularly how we can adapt online –during playing- the game or simulation to the player.

Q4- Do you play games?
A4- Not that often; I do often find the content of games disappointing.

Q5- What are Environmental Narrative Videogames and how could they be useful to support knowledge transfer?
A5- The narrative component in Environment Narrative games can make it for players more exciting, and the story aspects can provide structure to the player so she/he is not overwhelmed. And the Environmental aspect points to the notion that games can involve real situations in the environment, like the remains of Forum August in Rome. These aspects afford players/users to learn in a meaningful way and to try out things that are not possible in reality.

Q6- What are your recents projects applied to videogames?
A6- A game project focused on learning mathematics on the topic of proportional reasoning by including surprise and curiosity-triggering events which had positive effects on learning.

Q7- From where a developer could start? Could you suggest a general book about learning and games for curious of this topic?  Could you please also suggest the most interesting paper, among your scientific production, on these topics?
A very accessible source is a new book that gives an overview of types of techniques that empirically appeared to be effective with a lot of references to look further: Wouters, P. & van Oostendorp, H. (2017). Instructional Techiques to Facilitate Learning and Motivation of Serious Games. Swiss: Springer (218 pages).

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