Gamification and Gamified Systems

Gilbert, Sari. Designing Gamified Systems: Meaningful Play in Interactive Entertainment, Marketing and Education. New York: Focal Press, 2016. Print.

In her book Designing Gamified Systems, Gilbert says Gamified Systems “leverage game thinking and user-experience design to build motivation, explain difficult concepts, broaden audiences, depend commitments and enhance human relationships” (1). Essentially, immersive experiences to support learning and motivation.

Buried within a brief paragraph in chapter 2 Gilbert discusses PBL – points, badges and leaderboards, the ‘traditional’ toolset for Gamification in education. In previous semesters I’ve used various badges through BBLearn, and positive point accrual as application of gamification game-like principles. Even with extra credit and course work reduction, badges have not been well-recieved by my students. In talking about this with my suite-mate, she’s had similar results to the use of badges in her courses.

As an educator, I find it easy to read learning goals in Gilbert’s definition of a gamified system, and while she advocates for PBL, it’s not the focus of the theory. This opens game-like learning principles to a broader interpretation by educators, allowing them to explore learning within their classrooms in new ways.

So the problem becomes, how do educators and students learn about game-like principles, experience game-like learning so they can conceptualize learning systems in their own classrooms? One recommendation that would benefit Gilbert’s work, and many other pieces on games and classrooms: Play more games. The best way to experience gamified systems, to explore ways learning design through games is to experience them through play.

The question that results from this recommendation, will games be played differently when played for learning experiences than for ‘fun’?

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