I found a fantastic article during my researching and reading tonight and thought it was definitely worth a blog post. I haven’t always been into games and up until the last year or so I did not know much about games in education but now I’m hooked and very much interested in many aspects of it. I’m not yet hooked on playing Minecraft or any other games except the Zynga ones on my iPhone because I don’t have the time but the mechanics of games get me every time.
Anyway, the article I read is called Raising engagement in e-learning through gamification by Cristina Ioana Muntean (2011). The article perfectly outlined what gamification is for an educator of any level of familiarity with games and game-design. Here are some of the definitions given:
“Gamification (Deterding et al, 2011) is the use of game-play mechanics for non-game applications.” (p. 323)
“…the use of game mechanics, dynamics and frameworks to promote desired behaviors.” (p. 325)
“Gamification is the use of game play elements for non-game applications, particularly consumer- oriented web and mobile sites, in order to encourage people to adopt the applications. It also strives to encourage users to engage in desired behaviors in connection with the applications (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gamification).” (p. 325)
There are many gamers who would not use the terminology gamification when talking about game-design and game mechanics in learning but I am yet to discover the full reasons for this stance. I understand the concept and for me, I do prefer to think of it as game mechanics or game-design because gamification sounds like you are just throwing in some gaming elements for the sake of it sometimes.
I really liked many of the points made in the article but rather than digest it completely I want to say what my experiences have been so far. I did a MOOC this year, as I have blogged on previously, with Dr Curt Bonk and this was my first real experience of game mechanics in that I could receive a badge for completing the course. I was motivated by that for some reason but now that I understand more about game layers and mechanics I think there was definitely a lot more that could’ve been done to ‘gamify’ the MOOC.
I work for PLANE, and it has a game layer that is great! I love learning about game-design through our use of Badgeville. In PLANE, users accumulate points for many repetitive tasks and for cummulative tasks that make up missions. The design of missions is very interesting and I have been assisting a colleague in designing a mission for the purpose of user testing. I think that missions are a fanatastic way of communicating learning goals and intentions to users and guiding them whilst also motivating them. Missions also communicate explicit criteria for the completion of various activities in PLANE.
Muntean (2011) quotes:
“Gamification desires to combine intrinsic motivation with extrinsic one in order to raise motivation and engagement. Intrinsic motivations come from within, the user/actor decides whether to make an action or not, some examples are: altruism, competition, cooperation, sense of belonging, love or aggression. Extrinsic motivations, on the other hand, occur when something or someone determines the user to make an action for example: classifications, levels, points, badges, awards, missions (Viola, 2011).” (p. 326)
I don’t believe educators should rely on extrinsic motivation to be the only factor in getting their users/students engaged but I can testify to the effect it’s had on my own learning and whilst I am highly intrinsically motivated, the extrinsic motivation was a booster. I will continue to research game-design and game mechanics. As the Gartner Hype Cycle 2011 reveals, gamification is a trend at the “peak of inflated expectations” (p. 325) and the value it has in many education contexts is worth considering further.