Education professionals are continuously devising new teaching and learning strategies. With the rapid changes in technology and e-learning, various new learning methods are being explored and successfully deployed across all educational institutions, as well as businesses and corporations.
Until 20th century, the use of games as a means of learning and teaching were not considered. Apart from standard Britannica encyclopedia, typing tutor and other similar interactive software, the application of interactive graphics as a means of encouraging learning was unexplored. However, this concept changed drastically with the turn of the century.
Ever since the first video games were developed, they have since increased the players’ desire to learn, compete, set and achieve goals and engage in critical thinking. Gamification is now widely being used as one of the most preferred methods of learning. Here’s how it helps:
Learning for ADD
Attention Deficit Disorder (AAD) is characterized by a short concentration span and being distracted easily. For students and professionals suffering from ADD, focusing on lectures and presentations in the classroom or office can be a difficult task. Gamification, in such cases, provides an interactive learning opportunity that better maintains their attention, without the occasional tuning in and tuning out as in the case of traditional learning. The primary reason is because interactive graphics are better retained by ADD sufferers.
For corporations spending millions on searching the right people for the job, Gamification is a highly interactive way of ensuring that the recruited have the skills and competence necessary for their job role and responsibilities. An example would be the application of the Virtual Army Experience stimulation by the U.S. Army at the time of recruitment of individuals for their programs.
Critical Thinking and Resource-Planning
Implementing Gamification in training also increases retention of learning. Using video and audio stimulants in a competitive environment creates an innovative, engaging experience. Learners use critical thinking and problem solving skills to strategize, prioritize and achieve their goal with the limited amount of resources available. As they are focusing on the game at hand, learners are working through and applying the training content. This active process allows the brain to transfer the knowledge from short-term to long-term memory.
Fostering Leadership and Team Building
Gamification can be applied when creating both single player and multiplayer modes. In every game, there is a winner. Achieving goals successfully guarantees a win for the player. Motivation, engagement and leadership building are primary objectives of learning through single player games. Similarly, forming unions and partnerships during the game polishes the individuals’ team building skills through multiplayer mode.
Learning through gamification sharpens the player’s memory and assists them in capturing and retaining information. This helps in imparting technical and specialist knowledge and speeding up the overall learning process. It, therefore, does not come as a surprise why various learning centers and businesses are evaluating gamification as an option to impart knowledge.
Video games have an incredible ability to keep people engaged, focused, determined and motivated for long periods of time. They also provide a platform for users to build their own online communities of trusted co-players and teams and exercise their own creativity.
Playing Games for Motivation?
The link between video games and the motivation level of the user has always been a subject of great interest for gaming companies, learning institutions and gamers alike. In today’s world, we often find kids, teenagers and adults who complain they lose focus and get distracted easily. Be it their studies or office chores, routine work is boring and very few people remain focused during lengthy class and/or office hours.
However, when it comes to playing games, one often finds a reverse situation. The same person who is unengaged at work would keep playing Temple Run or Subway Surfer over and over again to gather more coins, enable power ups and get a new high score. Similarly, other games require defeating a boss character for leveling up. Consequently, the players will continue to play with the same level of dedication and motivation at each successive attempt.
How Do Games Motivate?
So what is it that makes routine and repetitive tasks in games more engaging? What is so boring about the everyday routine tasks in real life, but not in games? The answer lies in the game mechanics that evoke excitement and enthusiasm for the game itself. Various game mechanics spring into action within the game; motivating and enticing gamers to keep playing and moving ahead. The challenges put forward by these game mechanics, as well as the motivation to see their name in the top ranks of the scoreboard, keeps gamers glued to their gaming screens.
Badges, trophies and medals are game mechanics that represent the achievement of certain meta-goals outside the perimeter of the game. Often, these meta-goals are designed to reward the gamer with some additional tools, gadgets or special items (within the game) that assist them in completing it. The attainment of badges and trophies also offer a feeling of achievement to the gamer.
Points, Badges and Leadership boards (PBLs) should not be taken as the sole reason for playing a particular game. Video games offer online connectivity with friends, as well as a chance to challenge one’s own achievements and previous high scores. Points and badges only act as an added bonus.
Video games involve both, extrinsic and intrinsic motivation. The former comes where the user is playing the game to achieve a goal or a reward and can be seen through PBL. The latter, however, is the feeling of joy from playing the game itself, overcoming challenges and conquering roadblocks. Game mechanics and video game designing plays an essential role in creating and maintaining intrinsic motivation.
To explain how game mechanics, such as trophies, motivate gamers, motivate gamers; consider the following example. At an organizational level, mere salary is not enough. Employees want more than just money and extrinsic benefits to work harder. Games work the same way.
Having levels is not enough. Game designers need to offer intrinsic motivation and a sense of achievement for the gamers so that they will want to continue playing the game.
The use of game mechanics in serious games is becoming a trend now. Organizations and educational centers are now resorting to serious games as a way to motivate employees and educate them, while keeping them engaged in an innovative learning environment. An understanding of the impact of badges and trophies on motivation is, therefore, essential.