Investigating the Relationship between Presence and Learning in a Serious Game was written out of the Institute for Creative Technologies in University of Southern California by Lane, Hays, Auerbach, and Core. It can be found for free online here.
Apparently when people experience 3D events they are actually able to change their frame of reference, and experience the event as reality (see: Narrative impact : social and cognitive foundations). Furthermore, fantasy concepts are found to be more helpful for teaching children (page 240). However, studies with Crystal Island (a 3D immersive world) haven't shown that the 3D world helps. This paper sets out to find out, and used BiLAT (a system for teaching Arabic culture).
One group of students will be tutored in a 2D interface, while another is tutored in 3D. We see how well they did based on Pre/Post-Test results. Additionally, the students will be asked various questions about how involved in the training they were. I'll gloss over the results of the second part and just tell you that the 3D people were more involved; no surprise here.
Posted here as a summary:
- In-game, both groups made the same number of errors
- With coaching (ITS), roughly the same number of errors were made
- During post-test, the 3D students made less errors (but not statistically significant)
- 2D students performed twice as many actions (clicks/responses) as 3D students
- when coaching was not available, 3D students took more time to select answers than 2D students (suggesting that they treated it as a more real social interaction)
Conclusion: More Study needed
Why do you care?
First, remember to teach your children with fairy tales, as they are shown to teach lessons better. Additionally, there is evidence to suggest that your 3D video games make more of an impression than your older ones. However, just because you are learning in 3D doesn't mean that you are learning more.