What are Games and Gamification?

The games culture has grown to include a substantial proportion of the world’s population, with the age of the average gamer increasing with each passing year. A 2012 survey conducted by the Entertainment Software Association showed that the age demographic of game players in the U.S. is split in almost equal thirds with people ages 18-35 representing 31% of gamers, along with roughly equal proportions among those younger than 18 and those older than 35. As tablets and smartphones have proliferated, desktop and laptop computers, television sets, and gaming consoles are no longer the only way to connect with competitors online, making game-play a portable activity that can happen in a diverse array of settings. Game play has long moved on from simply recreation and has found considerable traction in the worlds of commerce, productivity, and education as a useful (and engaging) training and motivation tool. While a growing number of educational institutions and programs are experimenting with game-play, there has also been increased attention surrounding gamification — the integration of gaming elements, mechanics, and frameworks into non-game situations and scenarios. Businesses have embraced gamification as a way to design incentive programs that engage employees through rewards, leader boards, and badges, often with a mobile component. Although more nascent than in military or industry settings, the gamification of education is gaining support among researchers and educators who recognize that it is well established that effectively designed games can stimulate large gains in productivity and creativity among learners.

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

  • Games can be very effective way of learning as players can get very deeply engaged and motivated. However, the motivation is often based on carrots and sticks (rewards, badges, death), thus games don't often support deep learning (we don't want to go back to Skinner's time in the 1950s). Gamification is not a magic method to apply to all learning. I'd support games with the following elements: games as social experience (played together rather than alone), games involving strategical thinking and problem solving, games that require collaboration and team work. - tiina.sarisalmi tiina.sarisalmi Oct 25, 2013 - agree - helga helga Oct 26, 2013
  • It is difficult for the education sector to compete with the high production values associated with commercial games and therefore to meet the expectations of students familiar with playing in these environments. Many educational games are developed with inadequate budgets and without the range of skills in place to cover design, visualisation, interaction design etc. Collaborative/shared investment in a small number of games in key areas, or public-private partnerships might be the solution? Potentially, the most fruitful areas for development are simulations (scientific, business, environmental etc.) - jimdevine jimdevine Oct 27, 2013

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

  • Planning and designing games (collaboratively) is a a method of engaging students is deep learning and should be encouraged in the future. - tiina.sarisalmi tiina.sarisalmi Oct 25, 2013
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(3) What do you see as the potential impact of this technology on European schools education?

  • Planning games, learning logical thinking, constructing algorithms will probably be one of the 21st century key skills in few years time. - tiina.sarisalmi tiina.sarisalmi Oct 25, 2013
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(4) Do you have or know of a project working in this area?

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