Beyond Gamification

Jason Nolan & Melanie McBride (2014) “Beyond gamification: reconceptualizing game-based learning in early childhood environments,” Information, Communication & Society 17:5, 594-608.

REVIEWED by Emily Chadwell

This article discusses the idea that children aged 3-10 are the ideal age where we can see the successful implementations of gaming in an educational scenario. The idea is that ramification causes people to be encouraged to complete certain activities with rewards as incentives. This is used in marketing strategies for businesses, but can also be applied to education. The hope would be that kids playing games in an educational setting would learn new skills like accountability, creativity, or resiliency. There are four important dimensions to DGBL or digital game based learning: autonomy, play, affinity, and space. Autonomy is the freedom for players to choose their own path. Many classroom settings pre-determine a hierarchy of power with the teacher at the top in the class room. Playing games with more autonomous capabilities gives students the chance to make their own path in a game, and experience leadership opportunities. The second dimension, play, is largely about the enjoyment that comes from participation. There are debates about whether or not play is productive, and what are the purposes of it. In early development playing helps kids to learn how to interact with others. Some people argue that play has not direct outcomes, which would be bad in an educational setting. But, the frivolous side of play can be used to help promote educational play. The affinity dimension is also important to consider when explaining DGBL. It looks the specific interests students may already have with a particular game, and then utilizes that for a learning model. This can be done by turning students’ favorite game into a learning game. Space is the final dimension in this gaming environment. They point to the importance of a relaxing and safe environment when encouraging students to play. Many people feel comfortable in the safety of their own home, and studies show that they play differently when they feel this way. Students need to be given the opportunity to play in a free environment without constant assessment and extreme rules from teachers. Overall, gaming has a definite place in education, but we have to overcome certain issues for it to be successful. By constantly creating new solutions to these problems, and experimenting with new games, we can see results in students and their classroom experiences.