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Computer game play as an imaginary stage for reading: implicit spatial effects of computer games embedded in hard copy books


Address for correspondence: Glenn Gordon Smith, Department of Secondary Education, EDU 105, University of South Florida, 4202 E. Fowler Ave., Tampa, FL 33620-5650, USA. E-mail:


This study compared books with embedded computer games (via pentop computers with microdot paper and audio feedback) with regular books with maps, in terms of fifth graders' comprehension and retention of spatial details from stories. One group read a story in hard copy with embedded computer games, the other group read it in regular book format with a map. Students received no reading directions, or notification of upcoming post-tests. Dependent measures included a post-test of spatial questions about the story. Some questions addressed story items in both text and games. Other questions addressed spatial items in the text, but not in games. Participants who read books with embedded games scored significantly higher on all the post-test questions, including spatial questions not addressed in games. This suggests that game play helped readers to create a mental model of the story setting, used in subsequent reading to visualise spatial propositions.