On the futility of gamification in learning

    A few years ago, such a thing as “gamification” came into fashion. Its essence can be briefly described as follows: take a certain set of actions, for example, banking, or sports exercises, or completing school homework (the more everyday, the better), and apply a set of "game rewards" in the form of points (or levels , or badges). And here, as if by magic, the world will become more fun, and people will begin to work and learn more effectively.

    But if you think about it, do not you think this idea is wrong? Indeed, for example, if you put on good boots, then entering the field you will not immediately score goals like Ronaldo. And if you listen to songs in other languages ​​for a long time and hard, then you will not learn to speak them magically.

    From the blog editor: The post reflects an opinion on gamification that differs from the widespread one.

    In general, it’s rather strange how many competent specialists talk about gamification as a kind of special ingredient that can be added to any task for the sake of increasing efficiency. However, ask experienced developers of educational games, and they will tell you that there is no particular ingredient, especially when it comes to schooling.
    Although the idea of ​​gamification has led to the proliferation of a large number of interactive games, which include a point-award system, this is not necessary to engage users and acquire knowledge. But how can electronic games really affect the learning process?

    Instead of introducing “gamification of learning” in order to increase student interest, you need to realize that, ideally, learning as such already contains game elements. True, they are not so obvious, and you need to work hard to find them.

    The best teachers have long been using the element of interactivity in their work, creating a learning process based on discoveries, so for pupils and students this is already becoming a kind of game. And we should not in any way "gamify" the learning process. On the contrary, we must show that learning in itself can be a game. As Raf Coster wrote in his book A Theory of Fun for Game Design: “ In the end, these are what the games are ...“ Entertainment ”is just another word for learning .”

    Some time ago, GlassLab, an educational game company, began developing its new product, the Mars Generation One: Argubot Academy. It was just the philosophy of students searching for the game in the learning process itself. And moreover, one of the most difficult subjects was chosen as the subject for training: the art of argument . Well, it’s better not to think of it in order to prove the compatibility of good game mechanics and the study of any subject. As a result, GlassLab designers came up with how to harmoniously combine seemingly incompatible things: a combat adventure game and the process of selecting arguments in a dispute with criticizing the opponent’s arguments.

    The essence of the game is as follows: players must collect different information while exploring a fantastic city on Mars. After that, using the “highlights generator”, it is necessary to place the collected data in such a way that a certain connected argument is obtained. After that, the players use the created arguments to recharge their “argumentative robots,” which in battle with each other solve important issues for the Martian colony. The description sounds rather strange, but the gameplay is perceived quite differently.

    Please note: this is not a certain application, in which the elements of “gamification” of the art of the argument were simply introduced. And this is not even a “game of argument”. This is a game of controversy .

    When players join each other in a battle to make key decisions (for example, “what kind of protein should we have on Mars?” Or “what should we do with a rogue robot?”), They don’t know that they are actually studying the argumentation method through the statement , developed by philosopher Stephen Tulmin . And this game is a great example of how the philosophy of “learning as a game” is quite viable in relation to electronic games.

    I am glad that this principle still finds its way in the modern industry of educational games. For example, last year in the USA, an event called Game Jam was held, where more than 100 of the best designers were invited to create educational games. After 48 hours, more than two dozen teams of designers and developers presented incredible combinations of integrated training techniques and game mechanics. For example, a team from Disney proposed the game Global Doomination, which required the player to make informed decisions to support biodiversity in order to protect fictional creatures of the "depths" (gloobs) from extinction. Another example: a team of students from the University of North Carolina made an amazing game in which the physical principles of acceleration and speed were not only visualized, but also playable. All games, invented at that two-day event were not just educational, but at the same time fascinating and fun. They actively used the principle of involving users in the process with the help of an unusual and interesting presentation, rather than banal promotion with the help of badges and points.

    All this inspires hope that the massive dominance of screwing to the traditional, serious processes in the training and business of the elements of gamification in the coming years will decline. At least in training, gamification is a waste of energy, a saddle on a cow. To make learning fun and really effective, you need to create interesting and fun educational games, and not give out virtual badges and points for solving problems and cramming paragraphs.

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