Seriously gamifying our Education

This morning I was discussing with my colleagues from the gamED research group about our perspectives on games in Education. There are a number of issues here. There is the design issue, there is the scientific issue and there is the pedagogical issue.

There are people like Scott McLeod, who warn against creating educational games which “suck”. Seymour Papert [1], warned against creating what he termed as “Shavian Reversals” whereby in educational games, there is a tendency of eliminating all the ‘good’ game design processes, and retain the weak aspects which are drawn up in school curricula.

And to be honest maybe this is an aspect which we should really really explore. What do people term as fun? Jane McGonigal for example speaks of positive stress which many of the really popular games induce. You are stressed out, but in a positive way. You really want to be in for the challenge. You want to immerse yourself as you would be in any sport. In education one of the problems which we really, seem not to be able to come to terms with, is the element of “help” or “guidance” we give our students… at whatever level. I get higher level students asking me for a step by step guide into what I am expecting. We give them a really broken down way of how they should perform the research. We almost tell them what answers they need to come up with… hellooooo! Are we serious here? We preach one thing and we do the complete opposite…. and games, or rather the gamification of real life or real world representations, pushes forward the competition – increases the positive stress, makes people addicted to want more of that because they are continuously being assessed and being given feedback as they explore – they reach new levels with no singular recipe.

So once again if I were to post a twitter hashtag at this point I would say that the way we are doing educational games which learners refuse to use is big #FAIL and the way we are practicing education as higher education leaders, is alas another big #FAIL… we need to practice more what we preach is kudos.


[1] Papert, S. (1998). Does easy do it? Children, Games and Learning. Game Developer Magazine , 88.


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