Friday, January 4, 2013

Part 1 - Gamification Defined

Having taken the course in Gamification on, I took a while to read and re-read a few articles before getting down to blogging about it. Although the course mostly focused on gamification of businesses the concepts are still very useful to know about in order to apply to education gamification. I decided to summarize what I have learnt through a series of blog posts and then try to think of how to apply all this in education.

As Professor Kevin Werbach said: "Gamification is often misunderstood and is not always the best or right solution. (See GamifyForTheWin.) Gamification is not about making everything a game. Gamification is the opposite as it says that we are still in the real world and that we should find elements in games which can enhance the experience that we are having, find a meaning for those experiences and make them more rewarding by creating motivation."

Gamification is the use of game elements and game design techniques in non-game contexts. An example of this is Nike+ which turned sporting and physical exercise into a more enjoyable and rewarding experience by employing game elements to motivate achievement.

Game elements are a toolbox - the tools that you work with to create a more rewarding pr motivating experience for users. These are: points, levelling up, badges, avatars, resource collection, leaderboards, etc - parts of a game that can be pulled out and re-used in non-gaming services.

What we do might still be game-like but the rationale for the experience is something outside the game; some purpose that has a validity or an intention independently of the experience of the game which is non-game context where the objective is outside the game. So gamification is about creating contexts which involve a combination of game elements, game design and purpose other than playing a game.

We were told that without understanding what games are, we won't be able to understand what gamification is. Bernard Suits says that every possible game can be defined based on 3 concepts:

  1. games have a pre-lusory goal - there is an objective to a game;
  2. games have constitutive rules that turn the activity into a game;
  3. lusory attitude - players follow rules voluntarily even if they limit their freedom.

Games create a boundary between us and the real world, they put us into a magic circle where the rules matter. When we are in that magic circle, we follow the rules more than the rules of of the real world. The challenge for gamification is to put the users into that magic circle and if they feel that it is important and it matters, they will be motivated to play and to respond to the incentives that a gamified system provides.

Sources we were asked to look at:
Jesse Shell, Defining Gamification, Deloitte Report, Just one more game, How games are infiltrating every part of our life


  1. Dear Anna,
    Very clear article. Thanks for sharing.


  2. Thanks for reading Claudia! I will try to finish the other parts within a week. :)

  3. This is what I've been waiting for months now. :))) I'm so happy you've finally started it!!

  4. I know you have, Dora! Sorry for keeping you waiting. But will cover the whole course in bits. That's a promise. :)

  5. Lovely! I must keep it in mind =)