Game Engagement, Immersion, Flow, Obsession and Addiction – Getting the Right Balance

We hope that we can engage learners in a game-like educational experience to have beneficial learning outcomes. We know that some people can be deeply immersed in a game (Murray, 1998, Chapter 4) and can even experience the time-bending state of “Flow” as they play. But what if it all becomes too much as reality is lost, the virtual takes over. Obsessive tendencies in some of our learners may be activated. It may be important for educators using game experiences in their courses to watch out for over use and the sinking of too much time into some elements of the experience.

Jon Rodoff in his blog thinks this figure, arising from experience in World of Warcraft and other games, illustrates that MMORPGs, as currently designed, have built-in mechanisms that result in player burnout.

Figure from Blog by Jon Radoff (2011)


Borland, J. (2005) Blurring the Line between Games and Life, CNET News.

Murray, J.H. (1998) “Hamlet on the Holodeck – the Future of Narrative in Cyberspace”, Chapter 4 on “Immersion”, pp.97-125, MIT Press.

Prensky, M. (2001) Digital Game-Based Learning, McGraw-Hill.

Radodff, J (2012) Jon Radoff’s Internet Wonderland, Stages of MMORPG Addiction, February 26, 2011

Wikipedia (2012) Video Game Addiction

Wikipedia (2012) Flow (psychology)

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