“If you keep playing Games then you will not get marks in your exams”, I grew up listening to similar words from my mom.
Games were considered anti-study when I was a young student. We were allowed to play indoor games only for one hour daily and the rest of the time we had to study. Sunday was scheduled for outdoor games.
My father bought a video game for me during summer vacations so that I could stay at home. I spent hours and hours playing Mario and Contra but my joy was short-lived. As soon as my vacations were over, my parents hid my video game in some dark corner of the almirah because they wanted me to concentrate on studies.
At that time, no one thought or even believed that games can ever be helpful in learning or studying. Students had to study day and night without being distracted by games.
Today, gamification of education is a buzz word but do you know what exactly is gamification and how it can help in learning?
Games have the integral purpose of entertainment which is achieved by triggering player’s interest, motivation, engagement and achievement. Educational games have a purpose beyond entertainment. Game developers have to keep right mix of entertainment and learning. The game should be addictive enough to keep the student motivated to finish till the end, while making learning process a joy.
Let’s see how a good game is structured:
Game becomes interesting with a storyline. There is one character on a mission to save the princess from the dragon. Yes! — I am talking about my favorite Mario. Usually it is difficult to create an engaging story for an educational game but interest can be triggered with the end goal of mastering a topic.
Game is divided into levels — each level having different topic, difficulty or new surprises. Remember, how difficult each next level of Super Mario was!! Educational games can be easily divided into chapters or topics.
Incentivizing player is very important to keep motivation level up. One way is to give points, virtual coins, gold, diamonds or gems. Different kind of awards for different activities. How about earning a gold coin for solving simple science question and earning a diamond for cracking difficult math problem!?!
Levels are usually kept locked which can unlocked with virtual currency. Player have to finish early levels to earn sufficient money so that next level can be unlocked.
Player can attempt a game multiple times to get mastery over each level. Some games provide star rating on finishing each level as in Candy crush. This technique can be used in educational game so that student can master each chapter with a five star rating.
Discussions and Debates
Some games become popular because of high level of engagement. Discussions and debates are one way of engaging students and also helps in collaborative learning.
Competing with friends
Challenging friends is another way of engagement, students want to test their mastery level by competing with friends. QuizUp is popular multiplayer app for competing with friends on real-time trivia questions.
Sharing with friends
Games are fun with more friends into field. Sharing the rewards and achievements with friends excite children. Facebook and WhatsApp are popular social media for sharing game information with friends.
Here comes the special reward — ranking on leadership board. Player worked hard to smash obstacles, earn points and defeat enemies. Leadership board is an opportunity to rank high within ones’ friends group or globally.
Incentives like Crowns, Badges
Another exciting achievement is to earn rare awards like Crowns and Badges. These incentives are difficult to earn and displayed forever on the player’s profile.
KBC (Kaun Banega Crorepati) Game is popular reality TV shows which converted the boring GK quiz into an interesting game when it was hosted by most popular cinema actor, divided game into levels, real money incentives for each correct answer, lifelines to stay in game even when doubt in answer and achievement like a celebrity on winning the game.
KBC inspired millions of Indians to learn GK
Duolingo is another example of gamifying the experience of learning a foreign language. With millions of app downloads, this app has changed the way people learn any language.
Brilliant.org is gamifying practice and solving math and physics problems for preparation of competitive exams like JEE & Olympiads.
If you are a parent or educator then I would request you to allow your kids to play learning games. Let them enjoy while mastering their concepts.
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