May it be Atari’s 2600 video gaming console, or game developer Zynga’s -Farmville, video games have always manage to attract millions of users. Figures released by Zynga suggest that the company has 215 million active users around the world who play various games for considerable period of time every day. Data released by the University of Washington’s researcher Zoran Popovic also suggests that these days’ people spend around 3 billion hours each week while playing video games. This data attracted e-learning experts towards gamification. To put it in simple words, gamification means using game mechanics to perform or conduct non-gaming activities.
Can gamification really help in learning?
Since the beginning of this decade, improvement in technology has completely changed the way knowledge is shared. E-learning industry has been quick to adapt new technology and research in-order to engage people in learning process. The industry is focusing on use of technology combined with psychology to deal with social and business challenges.
Psychological research suggests that people display blissful productivity, urgent optimism, and social fabric while playing games. It also triggers players’ desire for self expression, goal achievement and competition. Gamification involves mixing learning materials with all the advantages and features offered by games. Using game’s designs while performing non-gaming; day-to-day tasks can improve the player’s psyche even when he or she is not playing. So, learners show the same enthusiasm and interest when study material is presented with gaming themes.
Combining study materials with gaming themes also helps in increasing interactivity, motivation, and level of engagement among learners. It can optimize grasping power by increasing players’ crystallized intelligence. Even brain scientists have agreed that playing games can trigger the production of brain’s dopamine hormone which increases players’ will to play, along with their retention power. Thus, knowledge acquired via game based learning can be retained longer.
Gamification was introduced as funware
Gamification attracted lot of attention in 2008 when it was presented as “funware” by gaming expert Gabe Zicherman. He introduced “funware” as science that can relate peoples’ everyday routine actions with games. Since then, e-learning industry experts started working towards adapting some elements of games in order to boost engagement and motivate learners while studying. Besides e-learning, gamification is used in customer engagement, corporate training, health and wellness, productivity enhancement, and marketing.
White House’s invitation to game developers
The impact of gamification on learning is such that even the White House decided to promote it by inviting 100 game developers from around the world to create leaning games. The event was organized in October this year.
Games created by Glass Lab, Disney and team from UNC attracted lot of attention. Glass Lab designed their “Ground game” of an election; Disney created their game called “Gloobal Doomination,” while team from the University of North Carolina (Charlotte) presented their game about concepts of velocity and acceleration.