To Play or Not to Play

What is Gamification

It is the process of applying video game elements, such as point rewards and competition, in non-gaming areas.


- An online game called allows people untrained in biochemistry to decode the protein structure of an AIDS-related enzyme.

- Foursquare is a game of everyday life by awarding points, badges, and virtual mayoralties to users as they visited physical locations.

And so while they can be educational games, they do not necessarily have to be as long as they create some type of extrinsic motivation to learn.

Why Gamification?

Marc Prensky, who coined the term “digital natives”, says that “they (today’s students) have spent their entire lives surround by and using computers, video games…and all the other toys and tools of the digital age” and so “they thrive on instant gratification and frequent rewards”. Likewise, Jane McGonigal, author of the books Reality Is Broke: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World, states “they know what extreme, positive activation feels like, and when they’re not feeling it, they’re bored and frustrated”. And so gamification, at least in their eyes, is the ideal tool for educating digital natives.


- Creates extrinsic motivation to learn

- Perfect for the digital era and "digital natives"

- Though not empirically, gamification is promising and been shown to work and be effective in a multitude of fields including education

Examples: Turkish Learning Games

Use Wisely

Gamification is can be like an addiction. It rewards with immediate stimulation, but creates a tolerance that makes real life bland. In other words, gamification does not lead to intrinsic motivation in students. It simply cannot generate student’s interest and curiosity on their own and thus fail to create a well-rounded learner. And that is assuming the game is well designed in the first place. Like actual game developers, other drawbacks include just making a good game that properly educates students in general. Poorly designed games will not help students learn let alone develop intrinsic motivation within them.


- Does not create intrinsic learning (self-motivation)

- Does not create a well rounded learner

- Difficult to create a good game in the first place

How To