Gamification Foundations and Future

What are the foundations of gamification?

In recent thinking about gamification, I think there are four foundational elements in any type of gamification effort. Gamification involves engagement, autonomy, mastery and the sense of progression.

Engagement-The learner needs to be engaged with the content, thinking about it, interacting with it and reacting to what happens with the content and doing task related to the content. The learner needs to engage with the learning. It can’t be passive.

Autonomy–The learner needs to be able to make choices about how much effort to put into the learning, what to do next and in what order they want to proceed. The choices can (and should)be bounded by rules and parameters but within those rules and parameters, the learner should have a great deal of choice.

Mastery--The efforts need to result in mastery of content, context and application. If the gamification doesn’t lead to mastery of knowledge, process or content, then it is not an effective gamification effort.

Progression–Gamification helps a learner to visualize progress. It allows the learner to see what they have learned, be recognized for learning up to that point and then encourage them to move forward with a visual depiction of the progress they need to make toward total mastery.

The Future of Gamification

Gamification seems to be exploding, I expect to see more software available to make game, gamification and simulation development easier.

My hope is that the term “gamification” matures and more people see gamification as a design sensibility, a way of approaching the design of learning events in a way that fosters challenges, provides a context for learning and provides informative and helpful feedback.

I see it evolving away from the layering of points and badges on top of training into a design philosophy that ensures positive learning outcomes because of the considerations of creating a challenge, immersing the learner in the act of applying skills and providing interactive, real-time feedback on behaviors and knowledge acquisition.


To learn more about gamification and games for learning:

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