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 a very effective way of learning as players can get 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 Yes, I agree. Well said. - paul paul Oct 29, 2013 - gabriel.rubio.navarro gabriel.rubio.navarro Oct 30, 2013 - stasele.riskiene stasele.riskiene Oct 30, 2013, [- kiira.karkkainen kiira.karkkainen Nov 3, 2013] Agree - tszmarta tszmarta Nov 3, 2013 Totally agree- deirdre.butler deirdre.butler Nov 3, 2013 - Jeroen.Bottema Jeroen.Bottema Nov 3, 2013
  • Games and gamification is relevant as a supplement in learning. It has a huge potential in engaging the learners on different levels. When used as supplements in learning I think it can motivate students who are otherwise are unengaged in school. - ann.s.michaelsen ann.s.michaelsen Oct 28, 2013
  • 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
  • For young people, schools remain the key institutional context to support learning and media
    literacy in particular, for they reach everyone and can support deeper knowledge and critical
    understanding. However, it is in informal learning and leisure contexts that we
    can begin to see where and how young people ‘practise’ their media literacy in
    ways that may help pedagogues to develop learning strategies to better utilise
    these opportunities, forge links across contexts and bridge or even transcend
    gaps. For example, Finland is integrating media-related experiences from
    everyday life into pre-school education as forms of playing, enriching
    children’s understanding of media. Relatedly, Norway has been
    implementing a ‘Knowledge Promotion Reform’ in its educational system with an
    agenda to develop media literacy among students through computer-supported
    collaborative projects using digital material in ways that combine creativity
    with critical understanding. Media literacy training projects from
    Iceland, Norway, Denmark, Sweden and Spain encourage classroom-supported
    initiatives to go beyond the school context by helping students use digital
    media to express their artistic and civic interests. More widely, transnational
    analyses of youth media production and distribution projects suggest that youth
    media initiatives, both in and out of school, can contribute to advocacy and
    empower youth to become expressive participants in their local and global
    multi-mediated realities. There is still mush research to be done in the area of how to integrate games, informal learning into the classroom.- papaioannou.t papaioannou.t Oct 30, 2013
  • Games withing the education system have a huge role to play-there has recently been a rise in educational games however I have found that Consumer off the Shelf (COTS) games to be the most powerful - they enable children to collaborate, problem solve, teach resilience, hand-eye co-ordination among many other things. - dawn.hallybone dawn.hallybone Oct 30, 2013
  • The pedagogical potential of games is gradually being unleashed. An interesting issue is whether off the shelf games or serious games will have the bigges impact in schools - oysteinjohannessen oysteinjohannessen Nov 2, 2013
  • Children deigning their own games (using programming languages such as Scratch) has enormous potential. - deirdre.butler deirdre.butler Nov 3, 2013 - Jeroen.Bottema Jeroen.Bottema Nov 3, 2013


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

  • I think you should add the serious games definition that is quite similar to the gaming one but still quite common in europe. - stefania.aceto stefania.aceto Oct 24, 2013
  • There is an unconditional acceptance of the idea that gamification is a good thing. Yet, a number of the underlying assumptions are based on behaviourist theories that have been proven noxious to education. Every educator, parent and gamefier, should read Alfie Kohn's book Punished by Rewards. We have multiple evidence that extrinsic rewards (like getting a pizza for reading a book) destroys intrinsic motivation (the pleasure to read), creativity and risk taking. If the idea is that learning is so boring that we need to create a space full of extrinsic rewards, then we might have learners that will memorise the content of the exams... We certainly need games, we might not need some of the so-called gamifications. - Serge Serge Oct 25, 2013 I agree - tszmarta tszmarta Nov 3, 2013
  • Planning and designing games (collaboratively) is a method of engaging students in deep learning and should be encouraged in the future. - tiina.sarisalmi tiina.sarisalmi Oct 25, 2013, [- kiira.karkkainen kiira.karkkainen Nov 3, 2013] Definately, designing games by learners themselves should be a common practice in schools! - tszmarta tszmarta Nov 3, 2013 Totally agree, we use Scratch with primary level children and they have created a wide range of really interesting interactive games.- deirdre.butler deirdre.butler Nov 3, 2013

  • Students should be involved in choosing the games to use since they are often the experts. It is important to remember that many games require a powerful computer and that is not what most students have in school. - ann.s.michaelsen ann.s.michaelsen Oct 28, 2013
  • An important issue is the presentation of gaming in education. For many people, particularly parents, playing games appears to be the opposite of what education should be. "Games" or "gaming" suggests something frivolous and recreational. Educational gaming perhaps needs a different name which suggests its serious purpose. I think schools will want to avoid using games, like Minecraft, which parents associate with obsessive and rather mindless computer usage at home. Schools do have to maintain the confidence of parents and education bureaucrats, and even of students, who want to feel they are being given activities which are important and serious. - paul paul Oct 29, 2013
  • I agree that serious games should be added to the description - oysteinjohannessen oysteinjohannessen Nov 2, 2013
  • Another relevant aspect is the potential of games design to develop students' computational thinking skills (i have added more in the "impact section"; see also http://edr.sagepub.com/content/42/1/38). In the UK, the Royal Society published a report in 2012 analyzing the current state of Computing education in UK schools and setting out a way forward for improving on the present situation.http://royalsociety.org/uploadedFiles/Royal_Society_Content/education/policy/computing-in-schools/2012-01-12-Computing-in-Schools.pdf - stefania.bocconi stefania.bocconi Nov 3, 2013

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

  • For sure games and gaming (also defined as Serious Games) has a great potential for schools, considering that kids play games on tablets and playstation/Wii consoles when at home. again, as in the case of tablet computing, I see this as another "missing link" between formal and informal education as there are games with educational purposes that kids generally play wiht pleasure as they do not associate these with the school environment. I think games have a great potential for the acquisition of knowledge as well as transversal skills. Interdependence of effective gaming for education with other factors has however to be considered, and this relates both to supporting infrastructure and network and to the potential resistance of schools to introduce games as a tool for learning in the classroom. - stefania.aceto stefania.aceto Oct 24, 2013
  • There'll probably be a huge number of pedagogically unworthy games in the market in the near future. But, hopefully, there'll also be an industry planning serious games and virtual worlds supporting collaboration and creative thinking. 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 I agree - tszmarta tszmarta Nov 3, 2013
  • 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 - gabriel.rubio.navarro gabriel.rubio.navarro Oct 30, 2013
  • Great potential for problem solving and role play especially in the context of more "occpupation" specific tasks. [- kiira.karkkainen kiira.karkkainen Nov 3, 2013]
  • Games design also provides an extremely useful context for developing students’ computational thinking skills. Computational thinking (CT) is a set of thinking skills, habits and approaches that are integral to solving complex problems. CT involves defining, understanding, and solving problems, reasoning at multiple levels of abstraction, understanding and applying automation, and analyzing the appropriateness of the abstractions made. (see p. 33 http://dl.acm.org/citation.cfm?id=1929902&dl=ACM). When learners are introduced to software development at an early age, they need contexts that are familiar. Games present worlds with defined rules, clear objectives and often more than one possible solution to a problem. - stefania.bocconi stefania.bocconi Nov 3, 2013

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

  • Lego is opening its own school in Denmark called the International School of Billund. The school will combine the international baccalaureate (IB) with the Danish school system and Lego's emphasis on creativity and play. Centred around "inquiry-based learning", the idea is that children are more motivated when they generate their own questions. http://www.theguardian.com/education/2013/apr/22/lego-school-building-learning - Serge Serge Oct 25, 2013
  • Gamification and project-based learning have jumped into the 21st century at the Viktor Rydberg school in Stockholm, Sweden where all 13-year-old students must now take a manadatory course on Minecraft. ‘They learn about city planning, environmental issues, getting things done, and even how to plan for the future,’ Viktor Rydberg teacher Monica Ekman told English-language newspaper The Local. ‘It’s not any different from arts or woodcraft,’ she added.” It’s like getting students to become ‘makers’ (another popular buzzword these days) while leveraging a tried-and-true virtual game that’s popular around the world.
    http://www.edudemic.com/this-swedish-school-now-has-a-mandatory-minecraft-class/ - Serge Serge Oct 25, 2013
  • Schools in Norway have started working with Minecraft, and our students wrote about games in education in their book, Connected Learners, http://www.amazon.com/Connected-Learners-creating-classroom-ebook/dp/B00CYEFX8E/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1381988799&sr=1-1&keywords=connected+learners - ann.s.michaelsen ann.s.michaelsen Oct 28, 2013
  • The MATEL study commissioned to the MENON Network by IPTS shows in its State of the Art Analysis report (not public so permission should be asked to IPTS to quote this) the following examples:
    • At European level a number of projects have been funded in different founding lines with the aim, amongst the others, to develop serious games as for example:
    • “Think Better Care - The Virtual Tutor” and “CLinIC - The Virtual Tutor” are two 3D serious games dealing with difficult dialogues and challenging situations developed for the health and the care sector within the “MIRROR* – reflective Learning at Work” project (www.mirror-project.eu). The games are set in a 3D virtual care home or hospital developed with the Unity software. Here learners have the possibility to navigate the environment, deal with some difficult situations with patients/residents and increase some specific competences through different mini games. During the whole game play, users’ behaviours are evaluated according to their ability to manage different competencies simultaneously and at their best: time management and patient/resident satisfactio
    • The European Innovative Games Award, coordinated by the City of Frankfurt, represented by the Frankfurt Economic Development GmbH and the Department of Culture, the Hessian Ministry of Economics, Transport, Urban and Regional Development in the scope of the program Hessen-IT and the game industry association game area FRM want to encourage the development of innovative games and therefore offers the European Innovative Games Award in cooperation with the European Commission. For this purpose, both technology and content may be innovativeIn the UK the Serious Games Institute (SGI) is based in Coventry University's Technology Park. The Serious Games Institute is a global thought leader in smart spaces enabling and facilitating the growth of serious games, virtual worlds and connected industry specialists by supporting research and development into the use and effects of these products, platforms and technologies. It exhibits and showcases the products and services of their community of companies and academics.
- stefania.aceto stefania.aceto Oct 24, 2013

Futurelab produced this report http://www2.futurelab.org.uk/projects/teaching-with-games, as well as http://www2.futurelab.org.uk/projects/console-games, Scotland led the way with this with the Consoalrium http://www.educationscotland.gov.uk/usingglowandict/gamesbasedlearning/consolarium.asp and although no longer running remains a huge place for educators to connect with this style of learning, also this recently published article looking at girls and gaming http://steve-wheeler.blogspot.co.uk/2013/10/games-for-girls.html - dawn.hallybone dawn.hallybone Oct 30, 2013 Agree Consolarium was an important development which appeared to demonstrate that the power of games and gamings could be quickly and through a small and active organisation, have a significant impact on teacher adoption and use of games for learning. - Gavin Gavin Oct 30, 2013

¨ In Hungary Informatics is a compulsory subject is schools (though the present government has unfortunately cut the number of hours in relation to the subject declaring it less important than some new emerging subjects like Ethics/Religion or PE). Nevertheless, digital materials are openly available for schools to use
http://tudasbazis.sulinet.hu/hu/informatika/informatika including design and development of games through programming envirnonment. - tszmarta tszmarta Nov 3, 2013

  • Across Scotland, learners are developing their own games, using a wide variety of tools, at the same time as developing their programming skills:
http://www.nesta.org.uk/blogs/digital_education/games_design_to_develop_computational_thinking/ - stefania.bocconi stefania.bocconi Nov 3, 2013

  • An example of a non-formal education initiative is CoderDojo, an open source, volunteer-led movement orientated around running free not-for-profit coding clubs and regular sessions for young people (e.g. http://www.coderdojomidwest.com in Ireland). A CoderDojo is basically a group of young people who want to learn about coding that gets together regularly with mentors. In these groups, kids ( age range 6-14 years) learn about how to make programmes and problem solving skills, and are allowed to be the experts, in a peer-to-peer learning environment. Specialised coding clubs have also been set up to cater for children with special needs (e.g. children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) https://www.facebook.com/pages/Cork-Autism-Parent2Parent-Group/241397839285270?ref=stream) - stefania.bocconi stefania.bocconi Nov 3, 2013

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