Just building a virtual world where you can learn Fluid Dynamics is not enough. It should be fun and immersive. Like most games, flow is a key factor for success.
In my master thesis I made a list of design principles which can contribute to gamification and an immersive 3D world.

Thoughts on levels / scaffolding

Thoughts on mini games

The list is based on:
Kapp, K. M., & O’Driscoll, T. (2010). Learning in 3D adding a new dimension to enterprise learning and collaboration. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
Kapp, K. M. (2012). The gamification of learning and instruction: game-based methods and strategies for training and education. San Francisco, CA: Pfeiffer.

For each main topic of the following list a separate post will be made discussing how topics are dealt with in the virtual world.

Instructionally grounded.
1.      Is the learning intervention addressing a educational need?
2.      Are the learning objectives optimized to address the educational need?
3.      Is a 3DLE the most efficient and effective mechanism for transferring the learning?
Reflectively Synthesized.
4.      How is personal reflection accommodated in the design?
5.      How are team after-action reviews accommodated in the design?
The Experiential Principles.
6.      How can participants experiment in the the learning environment?
Participant Centered.
7.      Does the design place the participants in the center of the experience?
8.      What roles do the participants play in the experience?
9.      What actions and interactions can the participants take to encounter teachable moments within the experience?
Contextually Situated / Authentic Environment.
10.      What situational contexts best accommodate the learning objectives of the intervention?
11.      What is the role of the facilitator, other participants, and the environment itself in creating an authentic situational context for learning?
Discovery Driven.
12.   What is the minimum set of guidelines that need to be established to catalyze action within the learning experience?
13.   What information of incentives can be selectively revealed within the learning experience to motivate engagement and collaborative action within the experience?
Action Oriented.
14.   What is the set of episodic activities that will immerse the participants in the learning experience?
15.   What are the key actions and interactions within these episodes that trigger teachable moments for the participants?
Consequentially Experienced.
16.   How will participants be required to demonstrate their ability to perfom?
17.   How is iterative trail and error and feedback built into the learning experience?
18.  What are the consequences of failure for the participant?
Collaboratively Motivated.
19.   How will collaborative and co-creation action on the part of the teams be incented and rewarded?
20.   Is the reward intrinsic or extrinsic?
21.   How is personal reflection accommodated in the design?
Lifelike Avatars en Third-Person Perspective.
22.   Are there enough opportunities to get used to using the avatar?
23.   Is the third-person perspective used?
24.   Does the avatar looks like the real person??
Archetype Role Play, Assume a Role (Participant Centered)
25.   Are there different roles?
26.   Is the environment according these roles?
27.   Are teacher and student at the same time present in the virtual world?
Archetype Scavenger Hunt (Discovery Driven)
28.   Is the scavenger hunt meant to let the participants  explore the virtual world?
29.   Is the scavenger hunt not to difficult?
Archetype Guided Tour (Discovery Driven)
30.   Is there a tour by the teacher?
31.   Is there a tour, without the teacher, were the objects are explained?
Archetype Operational Application (Action Oriented)
32.   Are real-world psychics rules applied?
Archetype Conceptual Orienteering (Action Oriented)
33.   Are concepts visualized?
Archetype Critical Incident (Consequentially Experienced)
33.   Do critical incidents occur?
Archetype Co-Creation (Collaboratively Motivated)
34.   Does co-creation happens?
Archetype Small Group Work (Collaboratively Motivated)
35.   Word ter in kleine groepen gewerkt?
Archetype Group Forums (Collaboratively Motivated)
36.   Are large group-meetings held?
Archetype Social Networking (Collaboratively Motivated)
37.   Do participants get enough time and space to communicate with each other?
Meaningful Dialogue (Collaboratively Motivated)
38.   Do meaningful dialogues take place between avatars (participant, teacher)?
39.   Do meaningful dialogues take place between avatars and objects?
Complex Story-line (Consequentially Experienced)
40.   Is the story-line sufficiently challenging, interesting and complex?
Challenges the Learner (Discovery Driven) Challenge / Skill Balance (Pavlas)
41.   Are there enough challenges for the participant? How is scaffolding included?
Immediate Immersion (Gamification)
42.   Are participants immersed directly into the story? No boring theory
Manipulating Variables (Discovery Driven)
43.   Do participants have the opportunity to manipulate different variables, which make different outcomes possible?
Interaction with Game Environment (Contextually Situated)
44.   Does interaction with objects take place?
Synthesis of Knowledge (Instructionally grounded)
45.   Does integration of different educational theories take place?
Replayable with Different Results (Consequentially Experienced)
46.   Can the game be replayed with different variables and outcomes?
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