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  1. While virtual reality (VR) might be effective in engaging learners with authentic and immersive learning experiences, current literature is lacking in understanding the relationship between learners’ perceived cognitive loads and motivational support. In addition, it is unclear as to how the incorporation of game-based learning strategies might impact the overall efficacy of VR for instructional purposes. The presentation reports a NSF-funded project that utilizes the HTC Vive VR system to host a game-based VR learning environment for teaching introductory archaeology classes in a US Midwestern university. The presentation will also report the results of multiple regression analyses to delineate relationships between cognitive loads and motivational components based on survey responses of 106 participants. The presentation will conclude by discussing game-based VR design opportunities and challenges in terms of the role of motivational design, design efficiencies and their unintended consequences.