I participated in the Virtual Gamified Diamonds Seminar, which presented some of the activities of CONNEXT project in a gamified way and discussed digital youth work. However, what inspired me the most, were the perspectives presented by PhD researcher Lobna Hassan (Centre of Excellence on Game Culture Studies; University of Turku, Finland). I’d love to share some of them with you.
For a long time gaming was considered a useless and time-consuming activity for socially isolated nerds and geeks. However, professionals who use games in a learning context know better!
While playing we apply diverse techniques that are also useful ‘in real life’. In this way we can develop skills such as perseverance, problem-solving, thinking and dealing with failure. Moreover, gaming provides increased intrinsic motivation and therefore a higher and longer (learning) effect.
Well, now that we have agreed that games are, not only fun but also useful, the gamification can begin. We take some elements from games such as assignments, points and nice decorations, we apply one of these elements to an event and make a ranking. If you do an assignment well, you’ll receive a virtual badge. Ready to go!
Wrong! You won’t motivate anyone that way… It has to be said, this simple version of gamification does work, but there will only be an effect in the short term.
With game-based empowerment we aim for a long-term effect and that requires more than just giving rewards. It is about how everything comes together. The story of the game
s must appeal to the inner motivation. A Serious (Urban) Game always has a goal in mind. It is about achieving that goal in a way that works for the intended target audience.
The Cullman County School in the United States converted the whole school building according to a Harry Potter theme. In this way they succeeded in motivating children from socially vulnerable situations to come to school. However, it is more than just painting the walls and providing nice decors. Youngsters can recognize themselves in the story of the poor Harry Potter who did not get many opportunities from his foster parents. The teachers implement a variety of elements of Harry Potter in the daily school work: books to learn grammar, spells in chemistry, scoring systems for good behavior. Above all teachers teach the children that a good education can be the basis of a good start in life.
And it works! The children have to stay less in detention, many of them do their homework more often and love going to school. Yes, yes, this is what gamification makes possible!
Curious about all the insights of the seminar?
- You can watch Lobna’s whole presentation on Youtube here.
- You can get acquainted with the CONNEXT Diamond game challenges, which present some of the activities and collaboration partners of CONNEXT in a gamified way here (the link is coming)
- Text: Marjolein Schabregs, gameWise
- Picture: Screenshot of The Cullman County School from Lobna Hassan’s presentation during Gamified Diamonds Seminar