Exploring the impact of freeform gameplay on players’ experience: an experiment with maze games at varying levels of freedom of movement


  • Sotiris Kirginas National and Kapodistrian University of Athens
  • Dimitris Gouscos National and Kapodistrian University of Athens




Game experience, Engagement, Flow, Freeform game, Level design, Serious Game


This paper describes an experiment which aims to examine whether different versions of the same game, which differ only in terms of freedom of movement that incurs varying degrees of freeform gameplay, elicit different kinds of player experiences. Seventy one children aged 9 and 11 from a Greek primary school participated in a research experiment with these different game versions. Post-tests were used to measure the children’s opinion of these games and differences in the appeal of the versions were then attributed to the feature of freeform gameplay. The findings from the study demonstrated that the digital game that offers the greatest extent of freeform gameplay led to better gaming experience than the digital games with lower extent of freeform gameplay. The main contribution of the paper, therefore, is that the research conducted provides some evidence that freeform gameplay is an important factor of positive gaming experience, and as such it should be optimized. This can only be done by considering at the same time the cognitive capabilities and pre-existing skills and knowledge of users, in the sense that only a level of freeform gameplay harmonized with user capabilities can lead users to learn, which is the ultimate goal of serious games.

Author Biographies

Sotiris Kirginas, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens

Sotiris Kirginas is a Primary School Headteacher and Doctoral Researcher at the Laboratory of New Technologies in Communication, Education and the Mass Media of the Faculty of Communication & Media Studies, National University of Athens. He holds a Bachelor Degree in primary education and a Master Degree in ICT in Education from the National University of Athens. His research focuses on exploring the significance of digital games-based learning in education and how does it relate to enhancing the learning process.

Dimitris Gouscos, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens

Dr. Dimitris Gouscos is Assistant Professor with the Faculty of Communication and Media Studies of the University of Athens, and a Research Fellow of the Laboratory of New Technologies in Communication, Education and the Mass Media. He is Editor-in-Chief of the Intl Journal of Electronic Governance and his research interests evolve around applications of social media, digital games and other interactive digital media to e-learning, e-participation and e-governance. More information available at http://www.media.uoa.gr/~gouscos.


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How to Cite

Kirginas, S., & Gouscos, D. (2017). Exploring the impact of freeform gameplay on players’ experience: an experiment with maze games at varying levels of freedom of movement. International Journal of Serious Games, 4(4). https://doi.org/10.17083/ijsg.v4i4.175