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GamiLearn '19 Best Paper Award -

In Academic
Thursday, November 7, 2019

Designing an Emotive Avatar for a Grammar Game - A Case Study of Engagement and Performance Development

GamiLearn'19 is the 3rd international symposium on gamification and games for learning. It is organized by Universitat Oberta de Catalunya and Universidad de La Laguna. Engy was honoured to attend this symposium where I represented the paper written by me, Dr. Slim Abdennadher , Dr. Kay Berkling and Dr. Armin Zundel.  It was a successful journey where they got Best Paper Award and we were offered to publish paper extension in Informatics Journal without any fees. She  has written this paper while she was in Germany doing her bachelor thesis with support of all co-authors and my university.

The paper falls under the same general topic of my bachelor thesis which is gamification for educational purposes which I believe will be the future of school education.  

One of the most significant problems German school children face is the concept of capitalization that does not exist in many other languages. In German, nouns are capitalized. In addition, even a verb or an adjective can become nominalized. Wrong capitalization is one of four most frequent spelling errors that persists even for adults .The advent of careless spellings in modern media as well as the use of automatic spell checks may decrease children’s awareness even further.



It’s a 3D running game with educational content. The game design uses an emotional avatar along with speed factor in order to motivate the children to play longer and improve their performance. The goal of the game is to teach children capitalization in German. Sentences are presented to the children in increasing order of difficulty, determined by the syntactic structure of the sentences. Words within sentence were presented decapitalized and the children had to select the words that should have been capitalized.

The player uses a chicken "Henry" to move in the game and pick answers in an endless run. When the correct word is picked, it is capitalized in the sentence shown. The goal is to practice the concept and automate it through speed and increasing difficulty of sentences. The player is provided with feedback using three methods: Emotion, visuals, and information.


The Avatar has five emotional expressions that are designed to provide feedback to the player, namely: Idle, happiness, sadness, "fun death", and stop. The default emotion is in idle position. On expressing happiness, a sound effect of kids cheering "yaay" is played. While on expressing sadness and stop, a sound effect of a sudden buzz is played to indicate something wrong happened. "Fun death", includes a sound effect of hitting the ground due to Sam’s falling.


When Henry makes a mistake, Sam expresses sadness. He expresses it using both a facial expression and a gesture. He raises his eyebrows while his head moves downwards and his hand is moving towards his mouth. This indicates to the player that something was wrong and the player might be encouraged to fix the situation or check the sentence for the given correction in order to avoid the same mistake later on. When Henry selects the correct answer, Sam jumps with happiness and has a wide smile to transfer this feeling to the player.


Results are preliminary studies on the first prototype of the game that serves as a data exploration effort to gain clarity on log file collection and interpretation. A large number of players are needed to show the impact of the learning content on skill acquisition and improvement that transfers into writing skills. The game will be deployed with undergraduate students and schoolchildren learning German for large-scale analysis.

Event Location: Design Museum, Barcelona , Spain.

Paper Authors:

Kay Berkling : Cooperative State University Karlsruhe, Germany

Engy Fawaz : German University in Cairo Cairo, Egypt

Armin Zundel: Inline Internet Online Dienste GmbH Karlsruhe, Germany

Prof. Slim Abdennadher : Vice President for Academic Affairs, German University in Cairo Cairo, Egypt