Validation of Serious Games


  • Katinka van der Kooij VU University Amsterdam
  • Evert Hoogendoorn IJsfontein
  • Renske Spijkerman Parnassia Addiction Research Centre
  • Valentijn Visch Technical University Delft



persuasive game design, serious games, RCT, validation, game research


The application of games for behavioral change has seen a surge in popularity but evidence on the efficacy of these games is contradictory. Anecdotal findings seem to confirm their motivational value whereas most quantitative findings from randomized controlled trials (RCT) are negative or difficult to interpret. One cause for the contradictory evidence could be that the standard RCT validation methods are not sensitive to serious games’ effects. To be able to adapt validation methods to the properties of serious games we need a framework that can connect properties of serious game design to the factors that influence the quality of quantitative research outcomes. The Persuasive Game Design model [1] is particularly suitable for this aim as it encompasses the full circle from game design to behavioral change effects on the user. We therefore use this model to connect game design features, such as the gamification method and the intended transfer effect, to factors that determine the conclusion validity of an RCT. In this paper we will apply this model to develop guidelines for setting up validation methods for serious games. This way, we offer game designers and researchers handles on how to develop tailor-made validation methods.

Author Biographies

Katinka van der Kooij, VU University Amsterdam

Faculty of Human Movement Sciences

Valentijn Visch, Technical University Delft

Faculty of Industrial Design Engineering


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How to Cite

van der Kooij, K., Hoogendoorn, E., Spijkerman, R., & Visch, V. (2015). Validation of Serious Games. International Journal of Serious Games, 2(3).