Readers, Players, and Watchers: Short and Long-term Vocabulary Retention through Digital Video Games

Mohsen Ebrahimzadeh, Sepideh Alavi


The study investigated short- and long-term vocabulary retention through a digital video game. Participants were 241 male students (age 12–18) randomly assigned to three treatments, namely, Readers who learned vocabulary through intensive reading, Players who learned vocabulary through playing a digital video game, and Watchers who learned by watching two classmates play the digital video game. Twenty one words (simple and compound nouns) were pretested and then followed by the interventions which lasted for five weeks. The same pretest was posttested twice: As a one month and a three months delayed posttest after the study to measure short- and long-term vocabulary retention respectively. Results indicated that the Players and Watchers outperformed the Readers in terms of both short- and long-term vocabulary retention. The Readers were the only group to forget a significant number of words on the three-months delayed posttest. Only the Players’ treatment was equally effective for learning both simple and compound nouns. The Players showed the highest mean score on both posttests and the least drop from the short- to long-term posttest. It is concluded that digital video games can help students retain vocabulary over a longer time period.


digital video games, game-based language learning, vocabulary retention, vocabulary learning, reading-based vocabulary learning

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