Current Competencies of Game Facilitators and Their Potential Optimization in Higher Education: Multimethod Study

JMIR Serious Games. 2021 May 5;9(2):e25481. doi: 10.2196/25481.


Background: Serious games can be a powerful learning tool in higher education. However, the literature indicates that the learning outcome in a serious game depends on the facilitators' competencies. Although professional facilitators in commercial game-based training have undergone specific instruction, facilitators in higher education cannot rely on such formal instruction, as game facilitation is only an occasional part of their teaching activities.

Objective: This study aimed to address the actual competencies of occasional game facilitators and their perceived competency deficits.

Methods: Having many years of experience as professional and occasional facilitators, we (n=7) defined requirements for the occasional game facilitator using individual reflection and focus discussion. Based on these results, guided interviews were conducted with additional occasional game facilitators (n=4) to check and extend the requirements. Finally, a group of occasional game facilitators (n=30) answered an online questionnaire based on the results of the requirement analysis and existing competency models.

Results: Our review produced the following questions: Which competencies are needed by facilitators and what are their training needs? What do current training courses for occasional game facilitators in higher education look like? How do the competencies of occasional game facilitators differ from other competencies required in higher education? The key findings of our analysis are that a mix of managerial and technical competencies is required for facilitating serious games in higher educational contexts. Further, there is a limited or no general competence model for game facilitators, and casual game facilitators rarely undergo any specific, formal training.

Conclusions: The results identified the competencies that game facilitators require and a demand for specific formal training. Thus, the study contributes to the further development of a competency model for game facilitators and enhances the efficiency of serious games.

Keywords: competency; educational games; facilitation; gaming; higher education; simulation.