Game Element: Freedom

We don’t often think of something as abstract as “freedom” as a game element but actually, “freedom” is a large part of games.

Games give you the freedom to fail, you can safely do something wrong and then start over again with minimal consequences and almost no longer term negative implications. But games provide more than the freedom to fail. They provide the freedom to explore different environments, different methods of thinking and different approaches to problem solving. The freedom to purposefully do something mischievous exists in many games and even the freedom to taunt others in a safe way or to brag about your accomplishments in a manner you might not do in everyday life.

Games give the freedom to play different roles or explore different approaches to life and to interacting with others. Games are a sandbox for life. You can try things that make you uncomfortable (like betting all your money on a few properties, or trying to corner the most valuable resource).

Don’t let games fool you into thinking they are just child’s play and they have no business in a serious environment. Games tap into innovative thinking, creativity and our need to explore.

Bartle’s player types identified four types of game players, killers-who want to destroy, achievers-who want to win, explorers-who want to check out an environment and socializers–who play games to meet and interact with others. I would argue that every player is, at one time or another, all of these personnas and that’s not only “OK” it’s desirable. Games let us become something else, if only for a moment and to observe how we are when we are that “someone else”. Games give freedom.

When designing your learning game, make sure you design into the game the opportunity for the players/learners to have freedom. Freedom to explore “what-if” freedom to fail, freedom to try different roles, freedom to do everything wrong and observe the consequences. Freedom in game play should not be under estimated. It is a critical element in games and in learning.

Course On Game Elements

If you’d like to learn more check out an online course on gamification and game elements for learning, go to the following link for a ten day free trial at out Karl’s Online Course The Gamification of Learning at

The Gamification of Learning explores how to use game concepts to make your learning design engaging.

The Gamification of Learning explores how to use game concepts to make your learning design engaging.

If you’d rather check out some books…

To learn more about gamification and games for learning:

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Karl Kapp
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