Dr. Philip Mildner

Titel: Dr. rer. nat.

Fax: +49 621 181-2601

Email: mildner(at)pi4.informatik.uni-mannheim.de

My PGP key: 0xFBF389BB



  • Serious Games
  • Mobile applications


For an overview of all recent projects visit knowledge-gaming.de. There you can find all games and projects related to my Serious Games research:




  • Philip Mildner, Tonio Triebel, Stephan Kopf and Wolfgang Effelsberg. 2017 Scaling online games with NetConnectors : a peer-to-peer overlay for fast-paced massively multiplayer online games Computers in entertainment : CIE, 15, 9, 1-21
    This article presents a peer-to-peer overlay for massively multiplayer online games with a focus on fast-paced action. More than other genres, action games like first-person shooters employ fast and dynamic game mechanics. In multiplayer environments, these properties have to be reflected by the underlying network structure. At the same time, the system should be able to support a huge amount of users in order to deliver a massive experience to the participating players. The capacity of current client/server systems limits the number of players in a game, preventing the desired massive experience. To provide both a scalable and a responsive system, we use a fully distributed peer-to-peer network with a dynamic connection scheme. By exploiting local interests in the virtual world, our system supports a huge number of users. Therefore, an area-of-interest mechanism is applied to the connection scheme. Users do not connect to all participating users, but they only establish connections to other users they are interested in. These neighbors are determined by the user's perception of the virtual world. Instead of using a purely distance-based approach, our system uses a more flexible neighbor-based approach that supports the use of multiple metrics to determine the set of interesting nodes for each user. A second kind of connection—so-called NetConnectors—utilizes the players' distribution in the virtual world to ensure overlay consistency. For the dissemination of messages, we use a publish/subscribe mechanism. This prevents inconsistencies introduced by unidirectional neighborhood relations that can occur with sender-oriented models. Further, the publish/subscribe mechanism models the users' interests more accurately. In addition to the regular sending mechanism, we implemented a Geocast algorithm that allows information distribution to arbitrary regions of the virtual world. While regular messages are always addressed to specific users, Geocasts cover certain geographical regions. Thus, Geocasts can be used to disseminate messages to all users that are located in the addressed region. Simulations show that our design performs well in terms of scalability. By keeping the amount of connections per user nearly constant, users do not get overloaded with too many connections. This also applies for crowded regions where the user density is much higher compared to an evenly populated virtual world. Another important aspect of fast-paced multiplayer games is the users' motion behavior. Different movement strategies are evaluated for their impact on network load and connection dynamics.


  • Philip Mildner. 2016 Generation of Effective Serious Games with Static and Dynamic Content Mannheim
    With video games being a huge market, attracting and engaging millions of players, it is tempting to use these motivational aspects not just for entertainment. After all, play as the basis of games has inherent learning aspects, for example seen at the way how children play and learn. The serious games movement that took off at the beginning of the 21st century wants to achieve exactly that: provide playful learning environments and utilize the motivational aspects of games to transport serious content to players. Getting from such an idea to an actual game, however, is far from trivial. A fundamental problem is how to integrate serious content and game parts. Finding ways how to improve the game creation process to produce applications that are both fun to play and effective in delivering a serious content is the main focus of this thesis. Therefore, the problem is approached in two ways: by providing best practice tips for the creators of serious games and by presenting results of different practical game implementations and studies. Two sets of serious games — seven in total — have been developed within the course of this thesis. The first set comprises games with static serious content. These games depict the regular development approach. Here, a static game concept is created and implemented by professional game developers. This approach allows for a high degree of freedom in the game creation process. Nevertheless, emphasis has to be put on combining serious content in the right way to produce effective and fun serious games. Best practice tips are given along with presenting results from user studies that are based on the implemented game prototypes. The second set of games features dynamic learning content. In contrast to static variants, these games support changing the learning content at runtime. This allows for more accessible creation methods: Once created, any domain expert can create own custom games without the need for expertise in game development. On the other hand, special emphasis has to be put on designing the frameworks in a manner that game scenario and learning content are well integrated, despite not having a thematic connection. Different approaches are examined by developing games with dynamic content. The games are evaluated in terms of their usefulness. Different user studies look at the motivational aspects as well as at the learning outcome. Furthermore, the effect of not having a connection between game scenario and learning content is examined to compare the effectiveness of static and dynamic variants.
  • Philip Mildner, Oliver Beck, Marcel Reinsch and Wolfgang Effelsberg. Academic Conferences and Publishing International Limited ; Curran, 2016 The influence of learning and gaming coherence on the effectiveness of serious games . Reading ; Red Hook, NYWhen creating digital game-based applications in educational contexts, a key aspect is how to combine the game and the learning part into a serious game that is both fun and effective. Such games can coarsely be categorized into games where learning and game parts are tightly linked together, and games that feature an exchangeable learning content. The former type gives game developers a high degree of freedom for integrating the learning content in a meaningful way. The latter type, on the other hand, allows non-expert game creators, such as teachers, to create customized games by using easy-to-use authoring components. In this work we examine both categories of games concerning their potential effectiveness and accessibility. We use two games: one that combines a generic game scenario with exchangeable quiz questions, and a second one with specialized content for teaching historic knowledge. Two comparative studies with a total of over 60 participants have been conducted with both games. The first study focuses on the effects of a game-based approach in comparison to one without game elements. The second study compares a generic game environment to one where game and learning content matches. Results show that the second game variant is able to produce better results in terms of fun and learning effectiveness. However, the generic variant still is able to produce good results with the benefit of not having to invest an additional development effort. These considerations are further elaborated to give practical advice for the creators of learning games.
  • Philip Mildner and Florian 'Floyd' Mueller. 2016 Design of serious games Springer International Publishing Serious games : foundations, concepts and practice Cham, 57-82
    This chapter covers the topic of creating the design of a serious game. It first presents background information on games in general, and how they create engagement in particular—essential for serious games. The actual design process is similar to designing entertainment games; however, it differs when it comes to integrating the serious content itself. This chapter emphasizes these differences. It also presents solution strategies for how to create serious games. Beginning with an initial game idea, the steps of defining constraints for the game and adding suitable game mechanics are described. Finally, ideas are presented for how to organize the development process in a holistic approach, with a tight coupling of both the gaming and serious aspects.


  • Philip Mildner, Nicolas Stamer and Wolfgang Effelsberg. Springer International Publishing, 2015 From game characteristics to effective learning games : evaluation of a component-based quiz game Lecture notes in computer science. Cham [u.a.]When developing learning games, emphasis should not only be put on a good integration of the learning content, but also on an engaging game design, in order to create learning tools that both train and motivate. In this paper, we examine the influence of specific game elements to both factors. Therefore, we first analyze models for the characterization of game elements. We then apply an adapted model to the design of a component-based learning game based on a quiz. Various game elements can be added to the game dynamically. This includes, among others, different forms of presentation, challenge, competition and constraints. Using this application we performed a user study to evaluate which game elements are most effective in delivering knowledge as well as in fostering motivation. Results show that a combination of game elements is suited best for influencing both factors positively.


  • Philip Mildner, Christopher Campbell and Wolfgang Effelsberg. Springer Internat., 2014 Word Domination: Bringing Together Fun and Education in an Authoring-Based 3D Shooter Game Lecture Notes in Computer Science. Cham [u.a.]In this paper, the multiplayer serious game Word Domination is presented. The key aspects of this project are to create one fixed game scenario with strong emphasis on motivational aspects and to combine this with a variable learning content. Therefore, a web based authoring tool has been created that allows for the integration of arbitrary quizzes into the game. This frees teachers from hassling with game design details. At the same time, it offers players the same level of engaging gameplay throughout different learning scenarios by making use of the popularity of 3D shooter games. Apart from the beneficial aspects of in game learning, the game also offers rankings and statistics, which might serve as a motivational aspect on the one hand, and as an evaluation tool for instructors on the other hand. In addition to a description of game mechanisms and the technical background of the game, this paper will present suggestions for application scenarios and further development possibilities. Some player impressions and reactions were gathered in a study at the University of Mannheim and at the Darmstadt GameDays 2013 exhibition, during which the game was played by a broad audience.
  • Philip Mildner, Benjamin John, Alexander Moch and Wolfgang Effelsberg. IEEE, 2014 Creation of Custom-made Serious Games with User-generated Learning Content . Piscataway, NJIntegrating user-generated content into digital games helps to increase re-usability and to decrease development effort. In terms of learning games, the content creation can be extended to the learning parts of the game as well, e.g., allowing teachers to create custom games for their students. In this work, we propose a method of how to create learning games with arbitrary user-generated learning content. This includes not only different topics of learning content, but also different types of knowledge acquisition. To do this we combine a static game scenario with lightweight HTML5-based mini games. Learning content can be conveniently added through a web-based authoring tool that does not require any programming or game design knowledge. In addition to that, we created a game prototype based on the Unity3D engine that uses a tower defence game setting to integrate the learning content. These mini games are retrieved from the backend service at runtime. The implemented solution already allows for the integration of arbitrary content and can easily extended without altering the game client.
  • Daniel Schön, Philip Mildner, Stephan Kopf and Wolfgang Effelsberg. Gesellschaft für Informatik, 2014 SMASH: Ein generisches System für interaktive Szenarien in der Vorlesung GI-Edition / Proceedings. Freiburg, Br.



  • Philip Mildner, Christopher Campbell, Mark Himmelsbach, Christoph Malassa, Marco Miczka and Wolfgang Effelsberg. 2012 A Serious Game for Architectural Knowledge in the Classroom Springer E-learning and games for training, education, health and sports : proceedings / 7th International Conference, Edutainment 2012, and 3rd International Conference, GameDays 2012, Darmstadt, Germany, September 18 - 20, 2012 Berlin [u.a.], 72-77