Schema theory provides a foundation for the analysis of game play patterns created by players during their interaction with a game. Schema models derived from the analysis of play provide a rich explanatory framework for the cognitive processes underlying game play, as well as detailed hypotheses for the hierarchical structure of pleasures and rewards motivating players. Game engagement is accounted for as a process of schema selection or development, while immersion is explained in terms of levels of attentional demand in schema execution. However, schemas may not only be used to describe play, but might be used actively as cognitive models within a game engine. Predesigned schema models are knowledge representations constituting anticipated or desired learned cognitive outcomes of play. Automated analysis of player schemas and comparison with predesigned target schemas can provide a foundation for a game engine adapting or tuning game mechanics to achieve specific effects of engagement, immersion, and cognitive skill acquisition by players. Hence, schema models may enhance the play experience as well as provide a foundation for achieving explicitly represented pedagogical or therapeutic functions of games.
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