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Gamification: Four-Letter Word or Epic Win for Educators?
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Gamification: Four-Letter Word or Epic Win for Educators?


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  • -Show of hands: how many of you feel you have a pretty good sense of what gamification is? -I’m not a gamification evangelist. I do love games (both digital and analog), but…-I help faculty do useful things with educational technology-I try to approach any buzzword that emerges from the tech industry with a healthy dose of skepticism. -Present a balanced view-Practical tips
  • Nike Plus screenshot. Source:
  • Foursquare parking image source:
  • This screenshot is from the forums at, which has over 25 million posts and 1.4 million registered users. Business like to reward customers with status because status is cheap, particularly when you are all-powerful in the world where the status has meaning. For instance, I can say to all of you, “Congratulations! You’re all Knights of Gamification and Level 3 Gamification Wizards.” That didn’t cost me a thing.
  • “Exploitationware captures gamifiers' real intentions: a grifter's game, pursued to capitalize on a cultural moment, through services about which they have questionable expertise, to bring about results meant to last only long enough to pad their bank accounts before the next bullshit trend comes along.” —Ian Bogost, Professor of Interactive Computing at the Georgia Institute of Technology and Founding Partner at Persuasive Games LLC
  • Motivational and affirming progress indicators are at the heart of what many people refer to when they talk about gamification. Whether or not the progress is positive or negative for the user varies widely.
  • This is what EVERY game does. In multiplayer games, some of this is automatic because we get increasing challenge by playing with people who are at our level or better. In single player, which is what courses are most of the time, we get it by making sure we start with an easy winand building up continuously to more and more epic wins.
  • Don’t ask that students follow you over deserts and mountains without a map or an occasional reminder that they’re not lost. Provide progress indicators.
  • Transcript

    • 1. Good News, Bad News• Good: I brought footnotes!• Bad: They‟re tiny.• Good: I like to share. 2
    • 2. Gamification Definitions• The use of game design elements in non-game contexts1 Sebastian, et al. ―From Game Design Elements to Gamefulness.‖ 15th International Academic1 Deterding,MindTrek Conference: Envisioning Future Media Environments. 3
    • 3. 4
    • 4. Gamification Definitions• “…in a couple of years, „motivating people through data‟ is going to be called „good design.‟”11 Paharia, Rajat. ―Gamification Can Work—Just Don’t Hire a Game Designer.‖ 5
    • 5. Extrinsic vs. Intrinsic Rewards • Status • Mastery • Power • Autonomy • Access • Wonder • Money/Stuff • Purpose 6
    • 6. Extrinsic Example: Stuff + Status 7
    • 7. Are all extrinsic rewards bad? 8
    • 8. Gamification Naysayers • Ian Bogost: gamification = exploitationware1 • Kathy Sierra: “Gamification is the high fructose corn syrup of engagement.”2 • “There is massive difference between helping someone *feel* or *appear* awesome and helping them actually *be* more awesome.”21Bogost, Ian. “Persuasive Games: Exploitationware.”, Gabe. “The Purpose of Gamification.” (See Sierra’s remarks in comments section.) 9
    • 9. Intrinsic Motivators in Games • Can we use some aspects of games to help students feel and be awesome? 10
    • 10. Mastery & Challenge• I have a map and I‟m getting somewhere – In games: progress indicators, levels – In class: checklists and weekly progress reminders – Progress = status + mastery 11
    • 11. 12
    • 12. 13
    • 13. Progress & Challenge• I can do it – In games: level 1 = easy win – In class: start with a “Hello, world!”• I feel challenged 14
    • 14. Autonomy• I have choices, I‟m not trapped – In games: choose good or evil, build or destroy civilizations, run people‟s lives – In class: choose option A or B – participate in grouping process 15
    • 15. Surprise & Wonder• I‟m curious to see what‟s next – In games: Easter eggs – In class: headstands, hidden clues, surprises in quiz feedback• Boredom vanquished by enchantment – In class: 16
    • 16. 17
    • 17. Where to begin?• Be a good Sherpa. 18
    • 18. 19
    • 19. Further Reading• Reality is Broken by Jane McGonigal• Flow by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi• For the Win by Kevin Werbach & Dan Hunter• The Multiplayer Classroom by Lee Sheldon• Drive by Daniel H. Pink• What Video Games Have to Teach Us About Learning and Literacy by James Paul Gee 20