Games, learning and gamification

I recently gave a little talk about games and learning in higher education and wanted to share the slides. I’m not an expert in this field but it’s something that I’ve been curious about for a long time.
The links to some of the youtube talks are interesting and should start at the best parts.
Would be great to hear your thoughts about games, learning and education.



Hey Keith, thanks for the slides!

I think that gamification is an interesting topic, and one that not many people truly analyze. Looking at some examples such as Duolingo really show how this concept has been grown. But I do think that there could be something to say on too much gamification. It may lead to either not taking something seriously, or making someone too competitive. Going back to Duolingo, I have heard that some polyglots dislike the app because the streak system incentivizes monotonous, bland practice over constantly challenging yourself. Focusing more on the game aspect rather than the learning can end up not actually helping you in the long run. On the other side, I could see how making something into a game increases competition, which may increase aggression or bitterness. While not a gigantic deal, I do think that it is something that could happen. But regardless, I think that offering a more fun experience to boring or mundane tasks are something that people on average would enjoy! Anything you find particularly interesting with the concept?

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Hi Josh,
Thanks for your reply!
Yes I agree, that very same thing you described about Duolingo happened with my cousin who was competing with me! He would do the level 1 spanish class every day just to get the streak and beat me, lol! I wasn’t upset and didn’t even realise until he told me but it was funny how seriously he took it. Given that he learned Spanish in school for 6 years I imagine that the level 1 class was not productive for him and was a waste of time.
I work as a teacher and the bosses here are always pushing us to dress up boring things with badges, points and so on. For example, clicking on a lecture video might score a badge and when you click on all week’s videos you get a mega-badge. But students see straight through it though and rarely engage. In my experience, students seem to engage more with interesting current events like what is going on with GameStop, or how interest rates can be negative, so I try to structure their assignments around topics like that.

In the presentation one of the audience members Rowan Tulloch is actually an expert on this topic and sent me his paper which is really interesting, here:

Here’s a quote from the article which I thought was great. By the way, Rowan uses these techniques in his ‘Introduction to Video Games’ course, so it fits well and is not just a distraction or gimmick:

Students could spend their gamification points on a variety of rewards such as teammates and titles… A title was a word of phrase that could be purchased, from that point on every time the tutor addressed the student they had to use that title. If they did not the student earnt a “bonus” point. Titles could be used instead of or as part of a name, for example “Dracula”, Sarah “The Impaler” Smith. Standard titles consisted of popular honorifics and television, movie and literature character titles. These titles were priced according to how desirable they were deemed (Table I). All titles were unique (only one student per class could use them).
Other titles were created by the students. These could be anything is as long as it was not offensive or inappropriate. Students could also not purchase their tutor or lecturer’s name, a surprisingly popular request, but one that would have made the class confusing. These titles cost five gamification points per word

2 Gamification points
Mr, Mrs, Ms, Dr, Sir, Dame, Lady, Lord, Professor, Mistress
4 Gamification points
Duke, Duchess, Baron, Baroness, General, Prince, Princess, King, Queen,
Emperor, Empress, Tsar, President, Darth
6 Gamification points
The Great, The Wise, The Wonderful, The Terrible, The Impaler
8 Gamification points
Queen of Dragons, Ruler of the Seven Kingdoms, The King’s Hand, Lord/Lady of Winterfell, Lord President of Gallifrey, The War Doctor, Jedi Master, Lord of the Sith, The Boy Who Lived
10 Gamification points
Supreme Ruler of Universe, God of All Things, Destroyer of Worlds, He Who Cannot be Named

Very interesting read! I have found that students tend to be more interested in current events since that’s what’s going to most affect them. I think that game-like learning has to be modified a bit more for younger students since I believe they can see through it quite easily. I think that gamification has to be carefully crafted otherwise it’ll lose interest and be ineffective. Like, getting points for such a minimal reward may not see much engagement, but points that could go towards things such as homework passes or other privileges would be highly sought after. But obviously, this could be abused or exploited and has to be monitored. While gamification is a nice idea, I believe it should be well integrated into other activities and learning in order to prevent it from getting too stale or stressful.

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That was really interesting! Thx for sharing with us! :slight_smile:

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