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Gamification vs. Game-Based Learning - Theories, Methods, and Controversies

My presentation for October 25, 2013 - Metro State University of Denver (MSUD) Symposium for Teaching and Learning with Technology Conference 2013. Access Conference Schedule here:

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Gamification vs. Game-Based Learning - Theories, Methods, and Controversies

  1. 1. “Gamification vs. Game-Based Learning: Theories, Methods, and Controversies” Sherry Jones @autnes October 25, 2013 “Gamification vs. Game-Based Learning: Theories, Methods, and Controversies” by Sherry Jones is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
  2. 2. Gamification Game-Based Learning (GBL)! Although the terms Gamification and Game-Based Learning (GBL) have been used interchangeably, they are 2 very different approaches to transforming social situations with game-like experiences. Let’s address the theory and methodology behind Gamification and GBL to understand why the 2 approaches are gaining steam in education. Ready? Let’s Go!
  3. 3. Theory: What is Gamification? “Gamification typically involves applying game design thinking to non-game applications to make them more fun and engaging . . . . Gamification can potentially be applied to any industry and almost anything to create fun and engaging experiences, converting users into players.” -- Source:
  4. 4. Methodology of Gamification In education, we can use game design principles to change non game-like classrooms into fun and engaging game-like environments, for the purpose of motivating and changing learner behaviors. Some principles . . . ● Points ● Levels ● Challenges ● Quests ● Rewards ● Leaderboard ● Achievement Badges ● Feedback Loops ● Progress (Status Bar) ● Conditions ● Context ● Complexity
  5. 5. Why Gamify? “63 percent of respondents agreed that making everyday activities more like a game would make them more fun and rewarding.” “More than half said that if a layer of competition were added to their everyday routine, they’d keep a closer watch on their behaviors and activities.” -- JWT Intelligence (Jan. 14, 2011) Read more: Gamification Encourages: ● Fun ● Intense Focus ● Competitiveness ● Collaboration ● Camaraderie ● Retention ● Mastery (Fail often until problem is solved) ● Meaningful Choices ● Productivity ● Joyful Optimism ● Creativity/Exploration
  6. 6. Gamification is Everywhere! “By 2014, more than 70 percent of Global 2000 organizations will have at least one "gamified" application, according to Gartner, Inc. Analysts said that while the current success of gamification is largely driven by novelty and hype, gamification is positioned to become a highly significant trend over the next five years.” -- Gartner Research (Nov. 9, 2011)
  7. 7. Effectiveness of Gamification? “A Gigya survey showed gamification also increases participation in online communities, with an average of 13 percent more comments, 22 percent more sharing on Twitter and Facebook and 68 percent more content discovery.” -- Stop Press (October 2, 2013)
  8. 8. Let’s See Gamification in Action!
  9. 9. Linkedin Gamified (Status Bar)
  10. 10. Nordstrom Gamified (Exp. Points)
  11. 11. FourSquare Gamified (Badges)
  12. 12. Kickstarter Gamified (Rewards) Neverending Nightmares by Matt Gilgenbach on Kickstarter
  13. 13. College Syllabus Gamified (Levels) Lee Sheldon’s Gamified Syllabus
  14. 14. Gamifying Class: Benefits+Problems Benefits ● Make Classrooms more fun and engaging. ● Motivate Students to complete activities. ● Help Students focus and be more attentive to what they are learning. ● Allow Students engage in friendly competitions with peers. Problems ● Gamification can become become predictable and boring. ● Poorly designed gamified activities can seem meaningless (if learning objectives are not well defined). ● Gamification can seem manipulative (ethical questions arise).
  15. 15. Theory: What is Game-Based Learning (GBL)? “Game based learning (GBL) is a type of game play that has defined learning outcomes. Generally, game based learning is designed to balance subject matter with gameplay and the ability of the player to retain and apply said subject matter to the real world” (Wikipedia). In other words, game-based learning is the use of games (analog or digital) for teaching a subject matter. The idea is to get students to play with already made games to fulfill a learning objective.
  16. 16. Why Use GBL in Education? Why are Games Good for Learning by PIXELearning (Infographic)
  17. 17. Let’s See GBL in Action!
  18. 18. GBL Method - Physics + Angry Birds The Physics of Angry Birds by Rhett Allain for Wired Science (Oct. 8, 2010)
  19. 19. GBL Method - Writing + Story Hero “Logic Game: Story Hero” by Sherry Jones (Oct. 24, 2013) Story Hero (The Game)
  20. 20. GBL Method - Math + Portal Image: “Math of the Game Portal” by David Wees (Oct. 3, 2011)
  21. 21. GBL Method - History + Minecraft
  22. 22. GBL Method - School Curriculum
  23. 23. Research on Gaming and Cognitive Health ● Gaming Linked to Greater Emotional Well-Being During Aging, According to Study by Alexa Ray Corriea (March 6, 2013) ● UCSF Study Shows Gaming Makes You Cognitively Younger by Timothy J. Seppala (Sept. 5, 2013) ● “Video Games Can Help You 'See' More” by Journal of Attention, Perception and Psychophysics (June 12, 2013) ● Video Games May Improve Reading Skills In Children With Dyslexia: Study by Betsy Isaacson (March 8, 2013)
  24. 24. Research on Gaming and Behavior Improvement ● Video Game Takes Bold Step Against Youth Suicide by Leslie Scrivener (Sept. 13, 2013) ● Video Games Do Not Make Vulnerable Teens More Violent by Heidelberg (Aug. 26, 2013) ● Gaming Can Inspire Healthy Behavior, Study Shows by Elizabeth Armstrong Moore (March 20, 2012) ● The Key to Unlocking the Virtual Body: Virtual Reality in the Treatment of Obesity and Eating Disorders by Giuseppe Riva, PhD (March 2011)
  25. 25. GBL Class: Benefits+Problems Benefits ● Turn Students into problem solvers and selfdirected learners. ● Foster Students’ design thinking via game making (create better world systems). ● Allow Students to engage in friendly competitions with peers. ● Help Students learn to analyze multimodalities. Problems ● The Instructor, as the sole troubleshooter, must be quite familiar with assigned games to teach with them. ● Assigning games without defining clear learning objectives reduces class time to playtime only. ● Technology issues (PC vs. Console gaming)
  26. 26. Not All Fun Activities Are Games “Perhaps the best way to think about games in education is not to automatically call everything that looks like fun a ‘learning game.’ Lumping all digital game approaches together makes no more sense than a toddler’s inclination to call every four-legged animal a ‘doggie.’” -- Frank Catalano, Edsurge (August 20, 2013)
  27. 27. Let’s Play a Persuasive Game ! The Republia Times by Dukope
  28. 28. Let’s Play a Serious Game ! Acidosis by Twirlbound
  29. 29. Controversies
  30. 30. Criticism of Gamification: The Loss of the Essence of Games
  31. 31. Gamification Produces ‘Skinner Boxes’ “At worst, such [gamification] approaches mistake games for Skinner Boxes, incentive dispensers that dole out rewards for attention. But even at their best, designers’ adoption of game principles run up against the fact that games are fundamentally opposed to product and service design principles. Games are inefficient; they serve no purpose but to provide the experience that is their very playing.” -- Ian Bogost (September 19, 2013)
  32. 32. Gamification Eliminates the Spirit of Games “[Jane McDonigal] worries that gamification efforts fall short when they adopt the mechanics of a game, such as giving rewards for certain behavior, without adopting the spirit of a game.” “The good feeling you get when you play an engaging game is what she calls ‘gamefulness.’” “‘Lots of things have the bells and whistles, but not the heart of a game,’ she said.” -- Dean Takahashi on Jane McDonigal (January 20, 2011)
  33. 33. Ethics of Gamification “Whatever we do or refrain from doing, whatever we put out there as a piece of design into the world has a persuasive component. It tries to affect people. It puts a certain vision of the good life out there in front of us.” “Peter-Paul Verbeek, the Dutch philosopher of technology, says. No matter whether we as designers intend it or not, we materialize morality. We make certain things harder and easier to do. We organize the existence of people. We put a certain vision of what good or bad or normal or usual is in front of people by everything we put out there in the world.” -- Sebastian Deterding (November 2011)
  34. 34. What is a Game, Really? Game Definitions by Molleindustria
  35. 35. Games as Responses to Postmodernism According to Janet Murray, games answer the postmodern problem of the multiplicity of meaning (no single truth), because games offer systems that can help “anchor” what we mean. “Liminality in Games ● Games celebrate the magic of shared attention. ● Games celebrate the inventiveness of human powers of symbolic communication ● Games create a space where we recognize the plasticity of culture itself” -- Janet Murray, Digra 2013 (August 26, 2013)
  36. 36. Conclusion?
  37. 37. Gamification vs. GBL ● Gamification = Turn the world into a playable and meaningful game in order to achieve specific objectives. ● Game-Based Learning (GBL) = Apply concepts to interpreting the meaning of existing game worlds. Or, reframe the game worlds as a “playground” for experimentation and analysis of concepts. Which One?: It all depends on your teaching objectives! Want to modify student behavior? Gamify! Want to “reframe” the world for students to experiment or test concepts? Use GBL! Choose the method that best fits your teaching objectives!
  38. 38. Questions? Comments? Sherry Jones Philosophy, Rhetoric, Composition @autnes Slideshow: