What are Games and Gamification?

The culture around digital games is growing to encompass a substantial proportion of the world’s population, with the age of the average gamer increasing every year. The gaming industry is producing a steady stream of games that continue to expand in their nature and impact — they can be artistic, social, and collaborative, with many allowing massive numbers of people from all over the world to participate simultaneously. A 2013 study by the American Psychological Association highlights the cognitive, motivational, emotional, and social impact video games have on human behavior; this significant body of research underlines the overwhelming potential of games to teach new forms of thought and behavior. Studies like these are encouraging the uptake of games into the worlds of commerce, the military, and education, among others. Gamfication — the integration of gaming elements, mechanics, and frameworks into non-game situations and scenarios for training and motivational purposes — has added another level of complexity to discussions surrounding the potential of games to transform teaching and learning. Although still in its nascent stages in education, the gamification of learning environments is gaining support among educators who recognize that effectively designed games can stimulate large gains in engagement, productivity, creativity, and authentic learning.

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(1) How might this technology be relevant to the educational sector you know best?

  • The application of games as tools/strategies for higher ed is emerging in ways that support curricular goals, to engage students in co-curricular campus activities and to support the design of games as high-impact teaching practices. Examples/descriptions included below. - jasonr jasonr Oct 19, 2014
  • Games and gamification are being discussed broadly in higher ed....from individual course design to professional development modules designed by HR. This model seems to speak well to the millenial generation and tap instrinsic motivation models. - deborah.cooke deborah.cooke Oct 27, 2014
  • Gamification largely provides a motivational structure. But game mechanics tend to emphasize extrinsic motivation; whereas the essence of games is play, and play, of course, is an activity we pursue for its inherent pleasure. Play seems hard-wired into mammals and provides a space for learning for many species. The true pleasure of play is difficult to package into game mechanics, and it is unclear whether play and goal-directed learning can be strongly integrated. - edward.oneill edward.oneill Oct 28, 2014

(2) What themes are missing from the above description that you think are important?

  • Games don't in and of themselves "teach new forms of thought and behavior" as they do model and reflect curricular practices that emphasize new ways of thinking. The power of games lies in the ability of games to serve as flexible, adaptable vehicles for curriculum. "Games as curriculum" thus becomes an important way in which technologies and technology strategies can be employed to achieve learning outcomes. - jasonr jasonr Oct 19, 2014
  • Universities are increasingly interested in the potential of game-making as a means by which students can attain higher degrees of quantitative literacies, systems thinking, and important job skills. While this idea isn't new, alliances such as the Higher Education Video Game Alliance (HEVGA) have grown in prominence. (http://www.higheredgames.org/). HEVGA represents a like-minded group of universities that share similar goals for the adoption of game-making curricula as a means to serve larger academic goals, and they have an impressive membership list. - jasonr jasonr Oct 19, 2014.
  • While there are some reasons to consider digital games and more traditional games separately, I don;t think the gamification topic benefits from the division. If you think game scan help with learning, then look at games. If a digital game fits the bill, great. But in many cases, using more traditional role playing and paper-based games make using games in the classroom even more useful because they are easily modified by the students and the teacher alike. Another point I would make is that "ggamification is rapidly becoming a dirty word. If games are useful in teaching, use them. But pillaging games for points and levels and the like and suggesting that you have anything game-like left over is disingenuous. That is to say, games are cool. Gamification is the use of games in non-game setting by people that don't understand games;) - david.thomas david.thomas Oct 21, 2014
  • Development and design of games/gamification for education has greater potential if we can design at higher levels of learning taxonomies like Bloom's. We need to adapt the cognitive strategies used by the gaming industry - and have the resources to do so. - Mark.fink Mark.fink Oct 22, 2014
  • Gamification is more a trend than a technology for me. It means that with the concepts of gaming also "serious" content can be better learned and understood. But I guess that the development of a real game to teach a specific content needs a lot of resources. So it is easier with a standardized topic that can be used not only in one lecture at one university. Or you need platforms that integrate some concepts of gaming, like reaching a level or being rewarded when solving a problem.- rudolf.mumenthaler rudolf.mumenthaler Oct 27, 2014
  • Games and gamification are certainly not the end all and be all of new models for curriculum design, but certainly specific features such as badges, progress bars and leader stats can make a course more engaging and fun. - deborah.cooke deborah.cooke Oct 27, 2014

(3) What do you see as the potential impact of this technology on higher education?

  • Games are able to model different ways of thinking, in addition to simply representing content, and they do so in ways that enable diverse disciplines to benefit from the application of this strategy. "Gamification" (another moniker for the personalization of game mechanics) helps instructors to create engaging, interactive learning experiences through low-touch technologies and in ways that are independent of actual videogame play. An example of this is RIT's "Just Press Play" program that gamify's the freshman orientation experience at RIT (https://play.rit.edu/) - jasonr jasonr Oct 19, 2014 This is a really great application! More colleges should be doing this! - lkoster lkoster Oct 20, 2014 - Mark.fink Mark.fink Oct 22, 2014
  • Again, the potential for increased engagement and interaction within a course is great. Students in this generation have learned that games can deliver a sense of accomplishment and competency, so they bring that awareness into courses where the gamification elements are present. - deborah.cooke deborah.cooke Oct 27, 2014

(4) Do you have or know of a project working in this area?

  • Richard Halverson at the Univ of Wisconsin-Madison has developed a model to quantify learning in games, as a way to monitor student progress. (http://www.wcer.wisc.edu/news/coverstories/2013/games_based_assessment.php). While this model doesn't apply to all styles of games created, it offers a workable system to look at the "big data" generated by micro-interactions during gameplay in a way that explores, "the relation between the subject matter content and the flow of the game"- jasonr jasonr Oct 19, 2014

  • Really interesting project from ASU--Sasha Barab is now the head of ASU's Center for Games and Impact. (http://gamesandimpact.org/) A number of great initiatives here include one to take a game-based approach to teacher education (Quest 2 Teach). The overall goal of the center is to support high impact teaching practices that can help a range of students, including ASU freshman to grad students. They've been award significant DOE grants to support this process. (https://asunews.asu.edu/20141016-teachers-college-grants) - jasonr jasonr Oct 19, 2014

  • Http://www.graphite.org has a large and growing inventory of reviwed educational games. Thought the focus is more K-12, there's a lot of good material there. - david.thomas david.thomas Oct 21, 2014
  • International Games Day by American Library Association: http://www.ilovelibraries.org/gaming

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