Adventures in Gamification: Week One – An Introduction to Gamification

Adventures in Gamification Logo 2


Syllabification: gam·i·fi·ca·tion Pronunciation:

gāmifəˈkāSHən/ NOUN

  • The application of typical elements of game playing (e.g., point scoring, competition with others, rules of play) to other areas of activity, typically as an online marketing technique to encourage engagement with a product or service: gamification is exciting because it promises to make the hard stuff in life fun (Oxford Dictionary)


Thank you for joining me on my Adventures in Gamification.  I’ve just started taking Games in Education: Gamification via OpenLearning and I am very excited to do so!  I first came across the concept in a course on designing Blended Learning courses and it stuck to me.  Like Crazy Glue.

Why settle for a boring “Sage on Stage” when you can have F-U-N in class?

How much can you absorb when listening to someone read their notes?   (¡ǝןʇʇıן ʎɹǝʌ :ɹǝʍsuɐ)  We stop paying much attention after 20 mins if we aren’t taking good quality notes.  

How much can you absorb when you are having fun, being challenged, overcoming obstacles and FINDING answers? (¡¡ǝɹoɯ ʇoן ǝןoɥʍ ɐ :ɹǝʍsuɐ)

Tom Benjamin, PhD from the University of New South Wales (Sydney) has designed a course that encourages interaction and participation to enhance learning through games.  Along the way we will cover the Strategic Use of Games, Application of Gamification in Education, Scenarios as Levellers, The Hero’s Journey and to round it out, The Active Ingredient in Games & Multimedia.

open learning 1

Module 1

This week I worked through Module 1.  At first glance, it looked deceptively easy: 3 components and 2 activities. As I watched the first video I took advantage of the awesome blogging tool offered by OpenLearning.  I could watch the video, see some text below and make my own notes and reflections on the fly!

So this great CGI filled video comes on and its fun and exciting.  Tom Benjamin takes you through the intro tossing activities at you to try on the fly (i.e. the Jigsaw puzzle that might give you clues about him) to show you a few things – empathy (don’t create games that you hate…your learners won’t like them either), relevance (not every point needs a game to be made) and an understanding that constantly forcing the participant to find their own answers is frustrating.

Here were my first impressions and thoughts of the course (created by said awesome blogging tool!):

Gamification - blog 1

Games are just the vehicle in which to deliver the message.  In studying Gamification its a case of the “medium is the message we should study”….looks like Hugh McLuhan was right again!  Well, that deceptively easy intro just got a whole lot deeper!! With those thoughts in my mind, I moved on to the homework…if you want to know what it entailed, you can sign up and work alongside me!


As I was exploring the group, I came across the forums located at the bottom of each page (Wow!  How easy – the forum for a topic is on the page of the topic! Sweet!!).  People were posting their definitions of a game and so did I. As you can see below, there were other ideas shared:

Gamification - pic 1 - group forum

Words like engaging, interactive, obstacles and objectives popped up.  I had only considered a structured environment (a place, a set of rules) but not why it was needed.  So much to consider!

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer?? A Lesson Waiting to be Learned…


The second video looked at further understanding games.  Two quotes from The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain were called out:

“Work consists of whatever a body is obliged to do, and that Play consists of whatever a body is not obliged to do.” ~ The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain


“He had discovered a great law of human action, without knowing it–namely, that in order to make a man or a boy covet a thing, it is only necessary to make the thing difficult to attain.” ~ The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain

So…make it tricky and people will want to try it.  Make it something that isn’t an obligation and it becomes fun. Take learning from being a task, to being a game – I guess this is why gamification works…You should watch the video and try the game – there is a lesson to be learned there!

One clear idea from the module is that you don’t ALWAYS need to use a game.  Simple points don’t require anything but a short answer.  the more difficult concepts need to be delved into and explored – and a game provides a strategic way to do that. The games can range from the simple riddle; to creating a drama, a song or sculpture; to tests and competition; to the tricky meta-game (I’m thinking like Dungeons and Dragons or some type of RPG game).

Wow!  So that was Week 1.

 In summary

  • Games are the vehicle in which the message (learning) is delivered.
  • By making things tricky, people naturally want to achieve it.
  • If its not an obligation, it is a lot more fun.
  • You don’t have to make everything into a game – simple points don’t need a game.
  • I can’t tell you everything!
  • To find out more, you know what it do…join me on this journey!

I’ll be back to share my Adventures in Gamification: Week 2 on the strategic uses of games soon! I hope you will take the class along with me and share ideas and thoughts in the comments or in the forums – don’t forget to upload copies of your blog to your Accredible profile to build your learning e-portfolio as you go!


open learning 1