Substitutive competition: Virtual pets as competitive buffers to alleviate possible negative influence on pupils

Zhi Hong Chen, Chih Yueh Chou, Gautam Biswas, Tak Wai Chan*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


Although competition is regarded as a powerful motivator in game-based learning, it might have a negative influence, such as damage to confidence, on students who lose the competition. In this paper, we propose an indirect approach, substitutive competition, to alleviate such negative influences. The approach is used to develop a My-Pet v3 system, in which pupils master subject materials to make their pets stronger, and compete against each other. Specifically, pupils learn Chinese idioms in a pet-training game scenario, and their mastery of the material is related to the pets' strength to win the competition. The result of the competition is influenced by whether pupils spend enough effort on the learning tasks. This intention is expected to alleviate the negative influence that results from direct competition. A within-subject experiment was conducted to examine the influence of substitutive competition. The results indicated that substitutive competition seems a promising scheme to maximise the power of competition. However, there were no apparent evidences in this study to demonstrate its effect to alleviate pupils' sense of failure, as compared with other two direct competition conditions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)247-258
Number of pages12
JournalBritish Journal of Educational Technology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2012 Mar
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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