The Effects of 3D Characters’ Facial Expressions on Student Motivation to Learn Japanese in a game-based environment
Previous research has shown that student-teacher interaction is very important in motivating students to learn a second language. However, it is unclear whether facial expression, which is one of the most important portions of interaction, affects in-game language learning motivation or not. The purpose of this study is to find out the evidence demonstrating the facial expressions of the other party, in this case, virtual characters in game, will or will not influence the learning motivation of Japanese L2 students. The researchers of this study developed four versions of a 3D animated Japanese role-playing game. Each version of the game represents one facial expression that is neutral, happy, sad or angry. The entire research consists of two experiments: a validation study and a motivation study. After validating all the facial expressions of five main characters in the game, eighty-four college students from 200/300 level Japanese courses joined in the motivation study voluntarily. They played a version of the game assigned randomly to them and then did a post-questionnaire. Conclusions were drawn based on the survey results. The findings of this research suggested that virtual characters’ facial expressions in game had no significant effect on participants’ learning motivation. However, significance was found in years of learning Japanese and gender. Meanwhile, it was found facial expression and years of learning Japanese had an interactive effect on the variable immersion into game.