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The compulsion to include games and game related mechanism in education is great among educators who want to engage and motivate today's students and the latest buzzword in this domain is gamification. However, without a thorough understanding of what a gamified curriculum looks like, how it can best be applied and why it might engross students, it cannot be effectively applied. This research examined a gamified course curriculum structure and evaluated its use in two university level subjects. The objective was to gage student enjoyment and engagement with a heavily gamified curriculum and to understand the aspects that make the practice useful in education. Factor analysis of the dataset revealed the possibility of a six dimensional model of curriculum gamification worthy of future study.
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International Journal of Game-Based Learning, 3(2), 1-21, April-June 2013 1
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ABSTRACT
The compulsion to include games and game related mechanism in education is great among educators who
want to engage and motivate today’s students and the latest buzzword in this domain is gamication. However,
without a thorough understanding of what a gamied curriculum looks like, how it can best be applied and
why it might engross students, it cannot be effectively applied. This research examined a gamied course
curriculum structure and evaluated its use in two university level subjects. The objective was to gage student
enjoyment and engagement with a heavily gamied curriculum and to understand the aspects that make the
practice useful in education. Factor analysis of the dataset revealed the possibility of a six dimensional model
of curriculum gamication worthy of future study.
Factors at Play in Tertiary
Curriculum Gamication
Penny de Byl, Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, Bond University, Robina, QLD,
Australia
Keywords: Curriculum, Game-Based Learning, Gamication, Education, Engagement, Factor Analysis,
Pedagogy, Serious Games
INTRODUCTION
Since the term, gamification entered popular
culture at the beginning of 2010, as shown
in Figure 1, it has penetrated into a plethora
of domains from business and marketing to
education. It has been used to define activities
such as the making of menial every tasks into
game-like activities to better engage partici-
pation, encouraging customer loyalty and the
use of computer games in domains other than
entertainment.
With respect to customer loyalty in the
business world, gamification provides a means
to keep patrons coming back by offering them
free merchandise and services. For example,
Starbuck’s coffee chain provides a loyalty
card on which customers received a star for
each coffee purchased. When the customer
accumulates 15 stars they received a free cof-
fee. In addition, Starbuck’s has a level system
that entitles customers to move up into through
loyalty ranks. At entry level, customers receive
a free birthday beverage and two hours of free
Wi-Fi. After purchasing five coffees, they move
up to Green Level where they benefit from free
brewed coffee refills, free coffee customization
and a free tall beverage with each whole bean
purchase. After 30 coffee purchases customers
level-up to Gold Level where they receive a
personalized Starbuck’s gold reward card and
other benefits.
Gamification should be distinguished from
serious games. Gamification relates to the use
of game mechanics or elements, such as points
DOI: 10.4018/ijgbl.2013040101
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2 International Journal of Game-Based Learning, 3(2), 1-21, April-June 2013
and levels, in non-entertainment domains, that
do not give rise to complete gaming experiences
(Deterding, 2011). According to Ben Sawyer,
founder of the Serious Games Initiative (http://
www.seriousgames.org): “Serious games are
solutions to problems. Any meaningful use of
computerized games or game industry resources
whose chief function is not entertainment are
serious games” (Sawyer, 2007, p. 12). In fact,
these games-based experiences span a wide
variety of domains including government,
defence, healthcare, marketing, education,
corporate and industry including applications
for health, advertising, training, education,
research, production and occupation (Sawyer
& Smith, 2008). For example, Simport is a seri-
ous game developed by TU Delft and the Port
of Rotterdam (Bekebrede & Meijer, 2009). It
engages port employees in a simulated scenario
of engineering and problem solving in land
reclamation from the North Sea over a 30-year
period. SPOEL (Nagel & Vermeulen, 2010) is
another serious game that prepares players for
the management of a mass evacuation in the
event of a catastrophic flooding event. In the
healthcare field, serious games are used in areas
such as rehabilitation and pain management.
Researchers at Nottingham Trent University
have developed games that assist stroke patients
to regain lost motor skills. Through the use of
motion sensing devices, patients interact with
the games through repetitive movement typical
of traditional rehabilitation therapy (Burton
et al., 2011). At the Women’s and Children’s
Hospital (Adelaide, Australia), serious games
have been successfully used as an alternative to
analgesics to alleviate the pain of burn victims
(Das et al., 2005). In the field of agriculture,
Pfizer Animal Health partnered with Carthage
Veterinary Services and game developers
ForgeFX to develop the Pfizer Virtual Pork
Production Simulator, named Virtual Walking
the Pens. The training and education delivered
by this interactive 3D simulation allows pork
producers to help pigs stay healthy, resulting
in a more productive, and profitable operation
(ForgeFX, 2011).
Serious games and gamification environ-
ments differ in that serious games provide
training, practice and engaging interactions in
simulations of real world environments and
interactions with real world objects. As before
mentioned, serious games cover a much wider
range of applications than just education. They
provide a playful way to interact with authentic
simulated content and environments. Unfortu-
nately, in the education literature the boundaries
between serious games and gamification have
become blurred. For example, Kapp (2012)
defines gamification as the use of, “game-based
mechanics, aesthetics and game thinking to
engage people, motivate action, promote learn-
ing, and solve problems.”(p. 10). Cohen (2011)
also takes this approach collectively including
Figure 1. The term, gamification shown in Google Trends
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International Journal of Game-Based Learning, 3(2), 1-21, April-June 2013 3
games played in the classroom and game like
curriculum structures in his definition. In its
purest sense and that adopted by the business
world, while gamification and serious games are
at heart inspired by game mechanics, they are
in fact very different mechanisms and require
different types of implementation as will be
discussed herein.
Gamification is a reward system or meta-
structure built atop existing real world systems
to entice engagement and interaction. In order
for a system to be gamified, Smith-Robbins
(2011) argues that it requires three essential
characteristics. The requisites include (1) clear
goals a player must complete in order to win,
(2) obstacles that make reaching the goal chal-
lenging, (3) competition or collaboration that
specifies whether players are playing against
each other or as a collective against the game
itself and (4) a reward system that motivates a
player to play in the first instance, whether this
be intrinsic or extrinsic.
For example, a computer game that teaches
employees how to run a Starbuck’s store and
manage virtual staff and customers would be
classified as a serious game. A system that
rewards customers with points, levels and sta-
tus for reinforcing and encouraging behaviors
they already engage in which respect to buying
coffee, such as the before mentioned loyalty
system, is gamification. In this case the goal
is to collect stars and level-up. The obstacle is
purchasing coffee. This act may include finding
a Starbucks store, making the decision to visit
Starbucks when surrounded by a plethora of
other coffee shops or even crossing the road. The
competition is not against other coffee drinkers
but rather against the game itself by climbing
the levels ladder. Buying coffee for friends and
receiving two stars instead and employing col-
laboration is one example. Finally, the rewards
are purely extrinsic including free merchandise,
coffee and a personalized gold card.
It has been suggested that gamification can
also be used in the classroom to invigorate the
curriculum with competition, leaderboards and
other awards, providing students with recogni-
tion resulting in positive work attitudes (EDU-
CAUSE, 2011). However, it could be argued
that these mechanisms are nothing that hasn’t
been used in the classroom and other training
environments for many years. Using leader-
boards, having in-class competitions and the
giving out of rewards have been implemented
by teachers for decades. The curriculum may
not have been structured as gamification, under
the current definition, however elements of it
have always existed. Indeed gamification is
an example of an extrinsic reward system; the
pedagogical effects having long been the subject
of vigorous debate (Bruner, 1977). The points
and reward systems of gamification are little
more than a modern application of the token
economy (Kazdin & Bootzin, 1972). Token
economies are applied for a wide variety of
reasons usually for behavior management of
psychiatric patients, school children and others.
In the system, tokens are offered out for good
behavior, and can be exchanged for rewards
when enough have been accumulated.
There has been much literature published
in recent times pertaining to the use of gami-
fication in the classroom inciting engagement
among students. However, there is very little
quantitative evidence describing or supporting
its use. Furthermore, in addition to adding an-
other playful layer atop the existing curriculum,
it is not known if gamification helps or hinders
student learning and progression.
The motivations behind this study are
two-fold. First it presents a simple gamified
curriculum structure in response to the author’s
colleagues asking, “What does it look like?”
The objective being to take an existing univer-
sity level course and apply a points system to
each and every student activity from attending
lectures to working on assignments and tak-
ing exams. Second, it provides a preliminary
analysis of student attitudes towards a gamified
curriculum and suggests a possible quantified
model based around student attitudes.
This paper begins with an overview and
definition of gamification followed by a brief
examination of criticisms of the domain. Next,
the curriculum designed for use in the study is
presented. This is succeeded with an analysis
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4 International Journal of Game-Based Learning, 3(2), 1-21, April-June 2013
of the curriculum’s first use in two university
level courses with respect to student attitude
and course outcomes. Finally, suggestions for
how gamification can enhance the curriculum
and directions for future work are given.
BACKGROUND
Although the fundamental mechanisms of
gamification’s extrinsic rewards precede
computer games, it is the computer games
industry that receives the main attention in
justifying the engagement that gamification
affords. The way in which games immerse and
engage players has long been studied in order
to understand the players’ motivation to keep
playing. McGonigal (2011) suggests games
in which a player is performing a menial task
over and over again accompanied by continued
feedback and rewards provide the player with
a satisfaction and sense of accomplishment not
mirrored in the real world. In the case of the
casual game Diner Dash, for example, players
manage a busy café taking orders and delivering
food. The goal is to balance all tasks, keep the
customers happy and make a profit. McGonigal
advocates that working in a real world dining
environment managing orders and customers
does provide the same satisfaction.
Computer game players willingly devote
many hours to problem-solving and honing
their skills within the context of games (Gee,
2003). McGonigal (2011) supports this view,
citing studies in which players willingly spend
between 17 and 22 hours per week in the Mas-
sively Multiplayer Online Game (MMOG)
World of Warcraft. Players spend some 50
billion collective hours in the game and pay
for the pleasure. McGonigal calls this feeling
blissful productivity (p. 53). It is this “blissful
productivity” in student behavior, which is the
holy grail of for all educators. In an attempt to
elicit this behavior in students, educators are
always seeking a new pedagogy or technology
that might engage and immerse their students.
Computer games became one of these foci
when Prensky (2003) coined the term ‘digital
native’ and promoted games-based learning as
a playful way to engage the new generation of
students who have grown up with games and
technology.
Play has been aligned with children’s
education (Piaget, 1952). Historically, it has
been acceptable to provide children with play-
ful environments in which to learn. Play and
experimentation is useful in making sense of
the ever-changing world in which a child begins
life. In the early stages of life play is crucial
to physical and cognitive development. Later
as children develop the ability to symbolically
exemplify experience role-playing develops that
facilitates emotional development. Once the
child has developed sufficiently to make sense
of their world the education system becomes
more rigid. Toys and games are replaced what
can be considered as static and unappealing
teaching methodologies. One only has to com-
pare a kindergarten with a university lecture
theatre to understand the difference. However,
as Thomas and Brown (2011) argue, the new
ever-changing digital networked knowledge
economy, in which we live, requires play as a
strategy for embracing change for both children
and adults.
The attraction of gamification over gamed-
based practice is that gamification does not
require extensive changes to existing practices
(Chorney 2012). This is attractive to all domains
that require an engaging and playful element
added to their core business. With the estimated
cost of producing and maintaining games such as
World of Warcraft coming in at $50 million per
annum, it is unrealistic to expect businesses or
schools to be able to produce such experiences
(Plunkett, 2008). Especially when the objective
is not to create games from their business or
content but to motivate and engage customers
or students. It is gamification, not game devel-
opment that has proven itself in the business
world to, train employees, engage customers,
instill loyalty and motivate brand participation.
Although some scholars liken gamification to
lies and deceit employed by business as mar-
keting and public relation strategies (Bogost,
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International Journal of Game-Based Learning, 3(2), 1-21, April-June 2013 5
2011) on the contrary it makes transactions
transparent and leverages simple game-play
mechanics inherent in primal human behavior.
The effects of gamification can be seen across
the business world.
For example, DevHub, a self-creation
website services increased its revenue nine-
fold by adding points and level systems to its
customer interactions (Cohen, 2011). Another
business, Live Ops, was able to up skill their
call center workforce by gamifying their profes-
sional development which increased customer
satisfaction by 9% and reduced weekly training
times by 2 hours per employee (Bourque, 2012).
Nike has also increased customer interactions
with its brand through the creation of a running
app that tracks a person’s jogging routes and
times (Edwards, 2011). It compares the runner’s
locations and times with that of their friends
and creates a virtual game of tag. This game
encourages people to train more and engage
with their brand by displaying their status with
respect to their friends.
With the hype and success surrounding
gamification in the business domain many
educators are keen to apply it in their classroom
and it can be practiced in several ways. A simple
method used in classrooms for decades is the
behavior chart (Barrish, Sanders, & Wolf, 1969).
This is an adaption of the token economy where
a large chart is placed on the classroom wall.
All students start at the bottom of the chart
and progress upward by accumulating points
for good behavior and completing activities.
Students are rewarded when they reach certain
levels on the chart. For example, in a grade 3
class at Varsity Junior College in Australia,
students reaching the top of the behavior chart
get to choose a reward. This could be extra
playtime or the use of an extra comfortable
chair (called the comfy chair) for the next week.
Recently in tertiary education, gamifica-
tion has been applied to individual parts of the
curriculum. Landers and Callan (2011) applied
gamification to non-compulsory multiple-
choice quiz questions in an undergraduate
course and found that 29% of students took
the quizzes. Singer and Schneider (2012) also
added a gamified component to their software
engineering course at Leibniz University to
encourage students into the practice of code
submission and version control. In both cases
social networking gamified practices where
used in which students could see each other’s
progress in an online leaderboard. At the other
end of the classroom gamification spectrum is
full subject conversion such as that implemented
by Lee Sheldon (2012).
Sheldon (2012) describes the gamification
of his classroom as a meta-world in which stu-
dents have avatars, with personalized fantasy
names, compete in teams named guilds, com-
plete quizzes and exams (known as defeating
monsters), do reading assignments (quests)
and accumulate eXperience Points (XP). The
XPs are exchanged for grades at the end of the
semester. He aligns all of the normal classroom
activities with terminology and tasks in typical
role-playing games (RPG). Sheldon’s work
however, provides little analysis of the outcomes
from teaching in this way other than student
course evaluation surveys.
However gamification is implemented,
there are always sets of key mechanics that
are mixed and match to create the experience.
These will now be described.
GAMIFICATION MECHANICS
The following list, while not exhaustive, is a
set of the most popular strategies employed
by games that have migrated across into other
domains (Deterding, 2011; Deterding & Dixon,
2011; Zichermann & Cunningham, 2011)
Points
People play games to earn points. The winner
of a game is determined by comparing the total
points of all players. Points are the rewards
accumulated during gameplay when a player
achieves a particular goal. Points can be found
in use in the banking system in which custom-
ers are aligned to reward programs that allow
for the accumulation of points for each dollar
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6 International Journal of Game-Based Learning, 3(2), 1-21, April-June 2013
spent on a credit card. Frequent Flyer schemes,
offered by airlines, are also an example of a
point system.
Points are used to motivate people. They
give the recipient a virtual reward that ac-
cumulates toward the acquisition of a greater
prize. For example, a coffee store chain with
a frequent visitor card will reward a customer
with points each time they buy coffee at one of
the chain’s stores. After buying five coffees the
sixth may be free. This rewards the customer
for buying at that particular coffee chain and
insights loyalty. If the customer is ever faced
with a choice of coffee shops from which to
visit they will preference the one where they
are rewarded.
Creating customer loyalty is the ultimate
goal of commercial enterprises gamifying their
experiences (Zimmerman & Cunningham,
2011).
Levels
Many computer games contain levels. A level
represents a discrete subdivision, story chap-
ter, a set of challenges or set of resources in
a game world. Players progress from lower
levels to higher levels through the collection
of points. When the number of points reaches
a set threshold, the player goes on to the next
level. As a player progresses through the levels,
they become harder. A player’s character may
also become more powerful as they ascend
the levels. Moving from one level to another
is known as leveling up. The banking system
also has a form of levels denoted by different
types of credit cards. For example, a bronze
credit card may allow the customer certain
basic rights and privileges, whereas platinum
cards a higher level of services. The points that
determine the type of credit card a customer is
entitled to may be equivalent to their income
(ANZ, 2012).
Levels provide both players and customers
with status. It is their reward for loyalty. With
increased levels come increased privileges
and benefits. For example, some insurance
companies classify customers as bronze, silver,
gold or platinum members dependent on the
number of years they have had policies. The
higher the level of membership the greater the
insurance discounts. When American Airlines
began their frequent flyer class system based on
the number of miles flown per year, they were
so overwhelmed with customers accumulating
points; they had to add a higher-class level. This
type of human behavior is that which Maslow
(1943) categorized as esteem in his Hierarchy
of Needs.
Leaderboards
Keeping a list of high scores in a game is
reminiscent of the old arcade and digital pinball
machines that display a list of player nicknames
and their scores proudly on the main display
while the game is not being played. This lea-
derboard acts as a challenge to others while
encouraging top scorers to keep playing in order
to maintain their status.
Outside of games leaderboards work in the
same way to display high-scores of accumulated
points. They bring aspiration and competi-
tion to player, customer and student behavior.
Players can gauge their progress with respect
to friends and colleagues. Leaderboards are
found in a variety of rating systems whether it
is for comparing movies, universities or wash-
ing machines.
Customization
Games make it possible for players to custom-
ize their gameplay experience. For example, a
game may allow players to change the settings
for game navigation controls to modify the look
of their avatar with choices of virtual clothing.
Customization for consumer experiences is also
mimicked in many businesses. For example,
the U.S. Bagel Nosh chain allows customers to
design their own donut by picking the individual
pastry, icing and sprinkles. In late 2011, Coca-
Cola released the Freestyle drink machine that
allows consumers to mix their own drink from
all their brand flavors. The machine is available
in fast food outlets across the U.S.
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International Journal of Game-Based Learning, 3(2), 1-21, April-June 2013 7
Customization gives players a sense of
ownership over a brand (Maklan & Knox,
1997). It allows them to add their own distinc-
tion to the consumer/player/student experience.
It is another mechanic of gamification that
strengthens loyalty.
Badges
Badges are the visible recognition of completed
challenges. They exude status and provide rec-
ognition for positive effort. In games badges are
given out when a player successfully completes
an activity or gathers sufficient resources.
Badges have a long military tradition traced
back to ancient Rome where Caesar awarded
heroic behavior with medals; an act which has
survived to this day.
According to Antin and Churchill (2011),
badges have five purposes in social psychol-
ogy. First, they assist players with goal-setting
by revealing all the activities and challenges
available in a particular system. Second, they
encapsulate information about a player’s inter-
ests and expertise providing others with sum-
mative knowledge about reputation and status.
Third, badges affirm a player’s status within
the system as well as advertising it to others
without explicit bragging. Next, they provide
instruction about the types of challenges and
activities available to a player by embodying
the social norms of a system and exemplifying
highly valued behaviors. Finally, badges bind a
group of users together around a set of shared
experiences by providing a sense of positive
group identification.
Quests
In games, a quest is a small challenge a player
attempts as part of the larger game, taking play-
ers on a journey through gameplay and story
narrative. Role-playing games are well known
for having numerous quests. For example, in
Bethesda’s Skyrim, a fantasy roleplaying game,
the player can select from hundreds of quests.
The ultimate goal of the game is to determine
why, after so many years, the dragons have
returned to wreak havoc on the citizens of a
mythical land. However, the players can diverge
from the main narrative to explore dungeons
and hunt down buried treasure to accumulate
extra points at any time. The player does not
have to complete all the quests in Skyrim to
complete the game, however, the quests award
the player extra points that they would not earn
otherwise. Of course not all games structure
quests in this way. Some quests are compulsory
and some are not.
Social Engagement Loops
Another mechanism used frequently in gamified
experiences is viral marketing. This method
derives from what is often referred to as a so-
cial engagement loop. In this loop, a person is
constantly engaged and reengaged with a core
product (Zichermann & Cunningham, 2011). It
begins with a motivating emotion that leads to
re-engagement followed by a social call to ac-
tion then a reward. The objective of the reward
is to emotionally motivate and hence complete
the loop. For example, the structure of YouTube
exhibits a social engagement loop. A person
connects by creating and uploading their own
videos thus emotionally connecting them with
the site. The person is reengaged when others
start to recommend their video to others. The
social call to action occurs through the ability
to post comments on others videos and the re-
wards are by way of video ratings and channel
subscribers. This in turn motivates more video
uploads and the loop continues.
This section has presented a brief ex-
amination of some of the mechanics used in
gamification and of all the mechanics the most
likely few to seem familiar to educators. At first
consideration one might think the education
systems is already designed in a gamified man-
ner. However, more in-depth analysis reveals
some key differences.
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8 International Journal of Game-Based Learning, 3(2), 1-21, April-June 2013
IS EDUCATION ALREADY
GAMIFIED?
Given the game mechanics outlined in the
previous section it is not difficult to see how
gamification and the education system are
aligned. Students receive points for completing
assessment, levels are based on how these points
add up at the end of the semester and badges
awarded according to student academic success.
Quests are the many challenges, problem-
solving activities and assessment faced and
social engagement is a natural part of being
in a class. However, Smith-Robbins (2011)
argues that if education is already gamified it
is certainly a weak example. Education systems
may be structured, on the surface, as a gami-
fied experience, however they differ greatly
as students can misunderstand the game they
are playing. Gamified experiences are much
more engaging as they make fully transparent
the goals, points, status and levels. A player
knows where they stand at all times and what
they need to do next.
Educational settings from primary to ter-
tiary, like games, provides students with a safe
environment in which to experiment interact-
ing within their chosen domain. It provides a
feedback cycle in which to learn from successes
and failures (Lee & Hammer, 2011). Games
are more adept at providing feedback instantly
thus maintaining a continued connection with
the player. In education however, this is not
always the case as submitted assignments may
take days or weeks to return by which time the
student has lost interest. In other educational
settings where a teacher is available to provide
immediate responses student engagement is
higher (Hattie & Timperly, 2007). In terms
of feedback cycle, gamification differs from
the education in that the same experience is
available at all levels from the collection of
individual points to leveling-up. Players can
fail as many times as they like at a task before
succeeding and progressing. Whether they
fail or succeed they always obtain immediate
feedback. In the education system however, this
rapid feedback is not always available because
of assessment structure and teacher availability.
Gamification features computerized evalua-
tion thus making transactions fast. Gamified
systems also experience scalability to a very
large number of players. With a human teacher
and complex assessment tasks in the equation,
rapid feedback cycles are not always possible.
Indeed, the valuable part played by rapid feed-
back in the classroom with respect to student
engagement and learning is reinforced in the
many projects that can be found that implement
computer managed assessment and intelligent
tutoring systems.
As Lee and Hammer (2011) also point
out, unlike games, the education system does
not offer the opportunity for repeated failure.
While classroom activities may invoke an
atmosphere of experimentation and gameplay
within the chosen domain, when it comes to
exams there is very little leeway. Generally
speaking, if students fail an exam, they do not
have the chance to try again. In a game, a player
has the luxury of trying and failing over and
over again, in some cases with no cap on the
number of attempts. This does not occur in the
educational system.
The same rigidity also dictates when stu-
dents can interact and engage with the system.
Unlike gamified experiences, education in-
cludes constraints such as deadlines, semester
lengths and timetables. In education, it is the
system dictating when students must interact
and engage. For a gamified system the player
can choose. Although in past ten years there has
been a move toward learner-centred teaching
(Weimer, 2002), in which the student has more
control over their learning experience and, in
some cases, may negotiate content and dead-
lines within the confines of a single course, at
the institutional level there still remains much
inflexibility.
In addition, assessment items are not all
weighted equally. Early assessment items are
given less weight assuming they require less
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International Journal of Game-Based Learning, 3(2), 1-21, April-June 2013 9
subject knowledge to be completed. Often more
emphasis is placed on final exam results than
other preceding assessment items. In addition,
the time and knowledge required to complete
assessment items is not necessarily reflected by
the marks given. Furthermore, one assignment
worth 15% might be marked out of 100 while
another assignment worth 25% might be marked
out of 50. Compared with the transparency of
a gamified points and level system, academic
grading can seem confusing and overly com-
plicated (EDUCAUSE, 2011).
Other areas where education differs from
gamification are collaboration and competition.
As stated by Smith-Robbins (2011):
If the goal [of education] is intellectual growth,
then classmates and faculty are teammates. If
the goal is to beat the system and earn more
money, then classmates are competition and
faculty are obstacles to be overcome. (p. 1)
In many universities students are given
final grades that must be normalised. Numerous
checks, balances and extra weights are often
applied to ensure this is the case. This system
places all classmates in the category of com-
petition as their results are certain to impact on
a student’s position on the curve and it could
mean the difference between failing or passing.
In contrast however, a gamified experience
places no such restrictions on players. Although
player’s scores may form a bell curve, players
are free to accrue points and level up irrespec-
tive of what other players are doing.
If gamification is to work in the classroom it
should not add an extra layer of complexity over
the top of existing grading systems. In addition,
it should add value to the learning experience not
trivialize the educational content. What follows
is the outline of a gamified curriculum. The
motivation for the study evolved from collegial
discussions with the author indicating a need
to illustrate gamification in the classroom. The
traditional assessment and marking system is
dispensed with and all student activity allows
for the accumulation of experience points (XP).
A GAMIFIED CURRICULUM
For this study the curricula of two undergradu-
ate subjects were restructured; Game Design
and Logic (GAME11-140) and Animation
(MMDE13-340), at Bond University, Australia.
Grades and assessment weightings were re-
placed with XP, a weekly classroom team-based
game of Jeopardy was added and a leaderboard
integrated with the students’ learning manage-
ment system (LMS) logins. At Bond University,
the LMS used for all subjects is Blackboard
(http://www.blackboard.com).
Before gamification, GAME11-140 con-
sisted of a number of weighted compulsory as-
sessment items that included tutorial attendance,
weekly homework assignments, three projects
and an exam. The marks allocated were 0.5
for attendance, 1 for each piece of homework,
10, 20 and 30 for each project and 25 for the
exam. These marks totaled 100. Previous ver-
sions of MMDE13-340 had a similar structure.
The assessment plan in the gamified subjects,
breaking down every student activity into XP,
was presented at the beginning of the semester.
It included compulsory and non-compulsory
items that attracted maximum possible totals
of 525 and 300 XP respectively. Students were
required to achieve at least 50% of the XP for
each type in order to be considered for a passing
grade. XP was attributed to each assessed item
at a rate of 5 XP for every 2 hours of expected
student effort.
Non-Compulsory Activities
Non-compulsory activities were only available
for a week at a time. These included lecture
and tutorial participation, and theoretical and
practical challenges. Students would pick
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10 International Journal of Game-Based Learning, 3(2), 1-21, April-June 2013
and choose from the non-compulsory items
throughout the semester. The XP attributed to
the non-compulsory was assigned on a pass/
fail basis in which a student completing the
activity satisfactorily received the full XP. Non-
satisfactory or no completion resulted in 0 XP.
Each completed non-compulsory activity was
worth 5 XP up to a maximum total of 300 XP.
While it was possible for students to accumulate
over this, they were informed it would always
be rounded down to 300 as a maximum.
Participation at lectures and tutorials also
counted for XP. At the beginning of each lecture
students were divided into small teams and a
game of JustJeopardy, a quiz software devel-
oped by the author, based on the television show
Jeopardy, was played. A large game board, as
shown in Figures 2 and 3, was projected onto
the whiteboard and teams selected. The teams
took turns picking and answering the questions
for points. The questions contained in the game
board were based on the content of the previous
lecture. Every student received XP for playing
and the winning team received a bonus 2 XP.
To achieve the XP for tutorial participa-
tion, students were required to attend class and
complete the set activities for each session. This
involved working on a step-by-step project with
specialized software in the computer laboratory
followed by a challenging applied task extend-
ing the project.
The theoretical and practical questions
were posted on Blackboard after the lecture
and the answers due before the next class.
Theoretical questions required students to
carry out research beyond content provided
in the lecture and practical questions asked
students to complete an applied exercise. The
theoretical questions encourage competitive in
that they were posed to give more incentive to
students completing them earlier. For example,
after the lecture on the history of animation in
MMDE13-340, students were asked to write a
short biography on a technical pioneer of the
animation industry who was not mentioned
in the lecture. Students had to select a person
no other student had already chosen to write
about. All student answers were posted into the
Figure 2. JustJeopardy: The JustJeopardy game board showing categories along the top and
coloured buttons for selecting a question. The numbers on the buttons indicate the number of
points they are worth. The questions worth more points are more difficult. On selecting a button,
the question appears as shown in Figure 3.
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International Journal of Game-Based Learning, 3(2), 1-21, April-June 2013 11
same blog to ensure other students could see
which pioneers had already been written about.
Students posting first had the advantage of a
larger pool of pioneers from which to select.
The later a student left the exercise, the more
they would have to research to find someone
who had not been mentioned.
Practical questions required students to
complete an activity using skills and knowledge
obtained from the tutorials. For GAME11-140
it would be to program with specific algorithms
explained in class or extend a given game pro-
gram. For MMDE13-340 it included small 3D
modeling or animation tasks.
Just before the next lecture the questions
were closed and students could no longer
achieve these XP. From time to time, unbeknown
to the students, some more challenging, non-
compulsory questions included bonus XP. This
would allow them to make up any previously
missed XP due to missing a lecture, tutorial or
question failure.
Compulsory Activities
The compulsory activities included assignments
and exams the students had to attempt. For these,
each had to be attempted and submitted for
marking in order for the student to pass. There
were three assignments and two exams in each
subject. The assignments were worth 25, 50 and
150 XP in turn. The mid semester exam was
worth 100 XP and the final exam worth 200 XP.
Each exam contained a theoretical and practical
element. The theoretical part consisted of ques-
tions taken from the JustJeopardy game and the
practical part involved students in a hands-on
exercise to complete programming challenges
or create 3D models and/or animations.
The Leaderboard
After each class, the lecturer and tutor would
update a simple online database with the XP
accumulated during the corresponding activity.
This web interface is shown in Figure 4. For the
non-compulsory activities, updating the XP was
a matter of selecting the item in the online form
and clicking on the ticks next to the student’s
name. For compulsory items, the XP would be
entered manually as it was possible for partial
marks to be awarded.
XP data going into the database would then
be made instantly available on the student’s
leaderboard when they logged into Blackboard.
The leaderboard, shown in Figure 5, is written
in PHP, a web server side scripting language,
and hosted on an external website. A short
Figure 3. JustJeopardy: An answer is selected by clicking on the button with the chosen answer.
The lecturer operates the game from a computer in the lecture room connected to a projector.
As each team has a turn, the score appears across the bottom of the game board.
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12 International Journal of Game-Based Learning, 3(2), 1-21, April-June 2013
JavaScript program references it when the
course homepage is loaded inside Blackboard.
The student’s Blackboard id is securely sent to
the PHP program that extracts their XP from
the database and draws the graph. The graph
shows each student their total XP, the minimum,
average and maximum for the class as well as
the grade cutoffs. Students cannot see each
other’s totals.
METHODOLOGY
The study included two classes of undergraduate
students enrolled GAME11-140 and MMDE13-
340; 22 students in total. The classes were run
with the exact same structure as outlined in the
previous section. At the end of the semester all
students were surveyed to establish the effect
the course structure had on their engagement
Figure 4. The web interface for the leaderboard database
Figure 5. The leaderboard
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International Journal of Game-Based Learning, 3(2), 1-21, April-June 2013 13
as well as address the gamification of educa-
tion concerns of student patronization and over
complication of learning and teaching. Many of
the questions were inspired and adapted from
the National Survey of Student Engagement
(NSSE) (www.nsse.iub.edu). The NSSE is a
highly reliable instrument that assesses the
extent to which students are engaged in educa-
tion practices (Kuh, 2001). It was chosen in this
study to assist in benchmarking the efficacy of
a gamified curriculum. The survey consisted of
16 questions measured on a 5 point Likert scale:
1 = strongly agree, 2 = agree, 3 = neutral, 4 =
disagree, and 5 = strongly disagree. Two items
(indicated with * in Table 1) were reverse-coded
to anchor positive attitudes in the same direction
across all questions.
RESULTS AND ANALYSIS
Internal consistency was assessed using Cron-
bach’s α (e.g. Cronbach, 1951) on all 16 items
resulting in acceptable internal consistency (α
= 0.74).
To explore the dimensional structure of the
survey, the items were examined for multidi-
mensional scaling structure using exploratory
factor analysis. Because this is an exploratory
study, these results should be treated with
caution. Nevertheless, they reveal a potential
multidimensionality worthy of further explo-
ration in future research. Consistent with the
exploratory framework, Principle Components
Factor Analysis (PCA) was used with minimum
Eigenvalues (EV) for each factor set at 1.0;
Varimax Method was used to force orthogonal
rotation so that individual survey items were
forced onto unique factors. PCA converts a
set of potentially correlated observations to
reveal any linearly uncorrelated variables. The
varimax method simplifies the interpretation
of the factors by minimizing the number of
variables for each. These uncorrelated variables
form the dimensions, or factors most influenc-
ing the distribution of data. Casewise deletion
was unnecessary with this sample because all
participants completed all items. Five factors
were produced in 11 iterations using this method.
Using face-validity, the following labels were
assigned: Playfulness (EV=4.4, h2=0.28), Com-
parative Pedagogy (EV=3.0, h2=0.19), Instru-
mentalist (EV=2.0, h2=0.12), Status (EV=1.5,
h2=0.09) and Performance (EV=1.1, h2=0.07).
Subsequent internal consistency tests support
the multidimensional structure. To reduce this
number of variables for future studies and to
adequately represent the domain exploratory
factor analysis was undertaken. Five scales
emerged from the data: Playfulness (a = 0.79,
items = 3), Comparative Pedagogy (a = 0.77,
items = 4), Instrumentalist (a = 0.85, items = 3),
Status (a = 0.67, items = 3) and Performance (a
= 0.54, items = 3). The loadings for this factor
model are presented in Table 1.
Although the structures of the subjects
before gamification and after gamification are
somewhat different, it is possible to compare
rates of tutorial attendance and homework
completion. For the pre-gamified version of
GAME11-110 the average tutorial attendance
and homework completion were 85% and
59% (n = 9) respectively and for the gamified
version 62% and 90% (n = 9). Both version
of the subject ran with the same lecturer. It
is acknowledged that the small increases for
the gamified version given the small student
numbers are hardly significant.
DISCUSSION
Direct comparisons between pre-gamified and
gamified courses, would need more extensive
verification with larger student numbers to add
anything significant to this discussion. However,
the given results may suggest that gamification
does not modify students’ performance with
respect to attendance and completing assess-
ment items. In fact, before 2010, gamification
(as it is now known) was not applied in tertiary
level classes and students were still been able
to perform to the best of their abilities. The
question then becomes one of how to better
engage students at a deeper level and assess
their critical thinking skills beyond attendance
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14 International Journal of Game-Based Learning, 3(2), 1-21, April-June 2013
Table 1. Factor loadings for the factor analysis of the identified scales
Item Instrumentalist Status Performance
Mean
(n = 21)
1=
Strongly
Agree
SD
1. I prefer the XP structure for grades
in this class to the way grades are
calculated in my other classes.
0.66 1.7 0.85
2. I prefer begin able to see my exact
grade status on the XP chart on a
day by day basis as opposed to not
knowing what it is until the end of
the semester
0.50 1.4 1.07
3. Getting XP for weekly theory and
practical challenges made me do more
out of class work for this course than
my other traditionally run courses.
0.78 2.0 0.80
4. The structure of the course encour-
aged me to research and learn about
related content I might not have
otherwise explored.
0.58 2.1 0.85
5. I found the XP structure for course
grading condescending. * 0.91 * 3.5 1.29
6. I would not mind my XP status
being visible to other students. * 0.83 * 3.2 1.30
7. I prefer my XP status to be visible
only to me. 0.82 2.3 1.35
8. I checked my XP status for this
course more than I check mark/grade
status in my other courses.
0.82 1.5 0.68
9. I found the weekly Jeopardy game
useful in revising course content. 0.82 1.6 0.97
10. Getting weekly XP for the
Jeopardy game encouraged me to turn
up to class.
0.86 1.4 0.68
11. I felt the course structure added
unnecessary complexity to the course
distracting me from my studies.
0.88 3.5 0.98
12. The weekly Jeopardy game in
class encouraged me to participate
with other students.
0.54 1.7 0.72
13. I only do extra weekly exercises
and study if I know it contributes
directly to my grade.
0.59 2.2 0.93
14. I am only interested in passing
the course. Any higher grade would
be a bonus.
0.81 3.8 1.12
15. I want to get the highest grade
possible. 0.75 2.0 1.07
16. The weekly Jeopardy game in
class encouraged me to participate
more in class than I usually would.
0.75 12.0 0.97
* reverse-coded
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International Journal of Game-Based Learning, 3(2), 1-21, April-June 2013 15
and completing homework. Can gamification
deliver a new teaching and learning approach
and what aspects of student behavior can it
best address?
An underlying problem with predicting
whether a new pedagogical approach will be
successful is largely due to an understanding
of students’ attitudes, reaction and behaviour.
Through an attempt to understand and in turn
modify student behaviour, pedagogy can reach
students on a whole new level. Gamification
works because it addresses fundamental human
desires such as reward, achievement, status and
altruism (Maslow, 1943). While these too are the
needs of students there are also other elements
within the student psyche that contribute to the
level at which they are engaged and immersed
in a curriculum. The analysis in this study has
revealed five factors contributing to student
responsiveness to a gamified curriculum; play-
fulness, comparative pedagogy, instrumentalist,
status and performance.
A description of the five-factor solution as
it relates to the study follows:
Factor 1 - Playfulness: These questions related
to student attitudes toward the Jeopardy
game used in classroom for content revi-
sion, attendance and class participation.
The game brought the fun factor and
friendly competition into the classroom.
This factor accounted for most of the vari-
ance (28%). The question with the highest
loading related to Jeopardy encouraging
lecture attendance and the second using
Jeopardy for revision. These questions
appear to reflect the students’ acceptance
and motivation toward using games for
learning and teaching;
Factor 2 - Comparative Pedagogy: This factor
suggests student interest and acceptance of
other teaching methodologies. It accounted
for 19% of the total variance. The relation-
ship between curricula structure appears to
be characterised by the XP grading struc-
ture, how it motivated students to complete
their homework and the checking of their
total XP. The question loading highest on
factor was “I checked my XP status for
this course more than I check mark/grade
status in my other courses;”
Factor 3 - Instrumentalist: This factor ac-
counted for 12% of the variance. Loading
highest on this factor was “I found the XP
Structure for the course condescending.”
Followed by “I found the course structure
added unnecessary complexity to the course
distracting me from my studies.” The third
loading was “I am only interested in pass-
ing”. All of these questions suggest the XP
structure as instrumental in course progress;
Factor 4 - Status: These questions relate to
student grades and the visibility thereof.
This factor accounted for 9% of the total
variance. The highest loaded question on
this factor was “I would not mind my XP
status being visible to other students.”
followed by “I prefer my XP status to be
visible only to me. “ and “I prefer begin
able to see my exact grade status on the XP
chart on a day by day basis” respectively.
This factor suggests student interest not
only in their grade and standing in the
class but also in having timely information
about this status;
Factor 5 - Performance: This factor sug-
gests student attitudes to their overall
performance in the class including class
participation and completing homework.
There are three loadings on this factor, the
highest being “I want to get the highest
grade possible.” The second highest was “I
only do extra weekly exercises and study if
I know it contributes directly to my grade.”
followed by “The weekly Jeopardy game
in class encouraged me to participate with
other students.”
It not unexpected that the major factor
revealed in this gamified domain is playfulness
as this is the fundamental underlying principle
upon which gamification is found and is very
integral in learning environments, first eluded
to by Plato (Plato & Reeve, 1992) and reiter-
ated by Prensky (2003). Play is not only for the
digital natives, but is the essential mechanism
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16 International Journal of Game-Based Learning, 3(2), 1-21, April-June 2013
through which human understanding develops.
Although it is stereotyped as a behavior of the
young, the author suggests it is a necessary
undertaking throughout life. Play has been
described as the motivation of choosing some
rules in order to see what happens when you
follow them and the freedom of choice behind
them (Araya, 2010). In the education system
the rules are often difficult to ignore and not
dictated by students. In this study however, the
curriculum was designed to give students some
freedom of choice on the activities that they
chose to complete. The Jeopardy game was
introduced to add an extra fun factor into the
classroom. In the survey the students strongly
agreed that the Jeopardy game encouraged them
to come to class and helped them with revision.
Although it, in itself, is not gamification, it did
contribute to the students’ XP each week. Dur-
ing one class, a team of students was so thrilled
with their win that they stood up, took a photo
of the projection of the game and score and
posted it to Facebook.
As a dimension in a potential multidimen-
sional model of gamified curriculum, at the two
extremes of the Playfulness scale would include
either students who are very playful or those
who are not. If gamification is assumed to be
more effective on playful students then it might
disengage those who are not. Furthermore, in
considering what this dimension might mean
learning styles should be examined. Playful
learning can match several learning styles
with different strategies for implementing play
in each (Rice, 2009). This would suggest all
students in one way or another are playful. As
the very aim of gamification is to engage those
who wouldn’t otherwise play games, it could
be the nature of gamification itself teasing out
the playfulness even in those who wouldn’t
otherwise participate in it. Despite the seemingly
extrinsic nature of gamification, play itself is
considered an experience with intrinsic motives
(Henricks, 1999). Hence, the nature of revealing
Playfulness as a dimension of gamification sug-
gests this reward system may provide students
with acceptable mechanics keyed at deep and
independent motivated learning. Indeed, the
motivation to play games in the first instance
is inherently intrinsic and aimed at internalized
emotional experiences (Lazzaro, 2009).
If Prensky’s (2003) digital native premise
is generalized it could be said that educational
materials deemed acceptable in the past now
fail to engage students who are more attuned
to high quality entertainment software, mo-
bile devices and interactive multimedia. The
comparative pedagogy factor may demonstrate
that students are open to other pedagogical
approaches. Although, there has been a large
amount of literature criticizing typical lectures
they remain the cornerstone of teaching prac-
tices at most educational institutions. The long
history of technology use in education shows
an inclination to use the technology in the same
traditional manner as old technologies even with
new media. This methodology neither produces
change nor improves education. Gamification of
the curriculum does not face the same barriers
to implementation found with new technologies,
as it is essentially a revitalisation of the token
economy. It can be applied without technol-
ogy. In the questions relating to comparative
pedagogy, students agreed with the premise
that the gamified structure encouraged them to
do more out of class work. They also, strongly
agreed to being more engaged in checking on
the feedback for the activities they had been
doing to achieve more XP. This could be due
to the fact that every item of student participa-
tion in the class achieved XP in contrast to
other courses and therefore they had daily and
weekly opportunities to gather more XP. This
also illustrates the social engagement loop at
play with students challenged to submit work,
receiving feedback and XP and being motivated
to submit more work.
Comparative Pedagogy as a dimension
could better help understand the usefulness
of a gamified curriculum providing attitudes
of students on learning and teaching structure
on a scale from those students who thrive in a
traditional classroom environment to those who
prefer experimental and innovative pedagogy.
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International Journal of Game-Based Learning, 3(2), 1-21, April-June 2013 17
This then raises the question that while a gami-
fied curriculum may be novel now and effective
for students who like experimental learning and
teaching environments, what will occur when
gamification becomes ‘old hat’?
Strategies for course completion are also
part of the curriculum that encourages student
progression. Educators can motivate students
by clearly communicating success criteria and
depicting success as a realistic objective (Strong
et al., 1995). The third factor in this study,
Instrumentalist, may suggest student attitudes
toward having a clear progression plan are
significant. This factor is also inherent to good
teaching practice (Nicol & MacfarlaneDick,
2006). Gamification provides a transparent plan
for students to follow breaking each activity
down into equally weighted XP. In the cur-
riculum presented herein, each XP equated to
two hours of student effort. The students knew
if they could demonstrate this effort they would
receive points. For the questions constituting
this factor, student responses imply the gami-
fied meta-system did not add any unnecessary
complexity to the curriculum, nor did they find
it condescending. Although the results do not
support it, gamification of the curriculum in
this way, provides students with a clear step-
by-step progression through the course from
start to finish.
As a dimension, Instrumentalist would
arrange students on a continuum from those
who require extreme structure to those that
can cope with flexibility and change. Accord-
ing to Skinner & Belmont (1993) teachers can
deliver structure through clear communication
of expectations, predictability and offering
instrumental help and support. They also be-
lieve that structure is independent of allowing
students autonomy and that high curriculum
structure does not mean students do not have
freedom of choice in their learning experi-
ences. Autonomy in learning environments is
considered to contribute to intrinsic motivation.
As with the Playfulness dimension, a Instru-
mentalist dimension would provide further
support to a debate against gamification being
purely external.
The accumulation and presentation of XP,
as it is for the Instrumentalist factor, supports
the fourth factor; Status. With the personalized
leaderboard being generated whenever the stu-
dent logs into Blackboard, they could clearly
see their ranking in the class. Although other
individual student XP was not displayed they
could tell if they were the highest or lowest in
the class. During one class, two students were
comparing each other’s XP with one complain-
ing the other had knocked them out of the top
spot. The leaderboard also displayed, from the
very first week of class, the final grade cutoffs.
As students accumulated XP they could see
their progress toward the grades. In this study
students strongly agreed that they preferred
seeing their current grade rather than having to
wait until the end of semester. On the questions
of whether students would dislike having their
XP status currently displayed, the answers were
neutral. Wanting their XP displayed publicly
could also be influenced by personality type.
Further investigation would be required to
determine if this is the case.
The final and most weak factor, perfor-
mance, is also related to XP. Sadler (1989)
argued that in order for students to succeed,
they must know 1) what good performance is;
2) how their current performance rates with
respect to good performance; and, 3) how to
turn their current performance into good perfor-
mance. Gamified systems make this information
available giving players options of ways to gain
more points and to reach higher levels. In an
education system however, knowing how to
better ones self is not that easy. Once an assign-
ment has been completed, if students receive
a poor mark or even fails they do not often get
the opportunity to retry for the marks. Indeed
in the gamified curriculum presented herein,
each weekly opportunity to gain experience
points lapsed at the beginning of a new week
and compulsory assessment items could only
be attempted once. The question then beckons
if students are being assessed on their timely
abilities or their overall achievement of learning
objectives. As Wormeli (2006) states:
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18 International Journal of Game-Based Learning, 3(2), 1-21, April-June 2013
Grading policies such as refusing to accept
late work, giving grades of zero, and refusing
to allow students to redo their work may be
intended as punishment for poor performance,
but such policies will not really teach students
to be accountable, and they provide very little
useful information about students’ mastery of
the material.
If games teach us anything, the more times
a player attempts and fails, the more they learn
and the better they become.
In summary, all revealed factors contained
elements of the XP mechanic implemented in
this curriculum structure. Gamification provides
a playful dynamic to the classroom enticing
friendly competition and rivalry, it exposes
the marking system, offers students goals for
which to aim and provides rapid feedback on
progression and class ranking. This component
of gamification may be nothing more than a
modern version of the token economy and with
it will bring forth the many opponents of such
extrinsic reward systems. On the other hand,
it could address a deeper issue embedded into
traditional education systems, laying bare the
grading system, helping students make sense
of it and providing a meaningful comparison
of student cohorts from year to year.
CONCLUSION AND
FURTHER WORK
The most vocal critics of gamification come
from the game design and development commu-
nity who feel the very concept of gamification
belittles the domain. Bogost (2011) describes
it as “marketing bullshit (SIC)” invented by
businesses in an attempt to engage customers
in the same way video games engage players.
Instead, they end up mistakenly reducing the
complex behavioral complexities found in
video game interactions down to points and
levels. Doust (2011) pronounces gamification
as “an overtly cheap attempt to sell a sense of
design that has been successfully instilled in
great works of both communication and art,
for centuries.”
As the gamification craze inevitably
finds its way into the classroom, the way in
which it will impact on learning and teaching
is also a concern. In an exploratory paper on
Gamification in Education some apprehen-
sions about reducing education to a points
and levels system, albeit ironically, are raised
(EDUCAUSE, 2011). The idea of reorganizing
classroom content as a game may trivialize
the learning content. While students are left
feeling patronized, unsatisfied by winning in
these situations and that the course structure is
too complex. The study herein goes some way
to alleviating the before mentioned fears with
respect to its implementation in the classroom.
When used as a meta-structure atop existing
curriculum it has the potential to engage and
motivate students adding elements of play and
transparency. This ensures the educational con-
tent is not compromised and students aimed at
leveling-up do progress toward mastery of the
key learning objectives.
The compulsion to include games and game
related mechanism in education is great among
educators who want to engage and motivate
today’s students. However, without a thorough
understanding of what a gamified curriculum
looks like, how it can best be applied and why
it might engross students, it cannot be effec-
tive. To this end, the research herein, presents
a gamified course curriculum structure and
evaluation within two university level subjects.
The objective being to gage student enjoyment
and engagement with a heavily gamified cur-
riculum as well as understanding the factors
that may make the practice useful suggesting
a multidimensional model of student attitudes
that could assist in future gamified practices
in education.
One of the assumptions of data reduction
as performed on this study is that a large data
set is available. However, herein, this is not the
Copyright © 2013, IGI Global. Copying or distributing in print or electronic forms without written permission of IGI Global is prohibited.
International Journal of Game-Based Learning, 3(2), 1-21, April-June 2013 19
case. The data analysis presented is amazingly
robust given the small sample size. This justifies
further exploration through the data reduction
of larger studies. Through additional study a
multidimensional model of gamification in
education will be proposed. As the research
moves forward opportunities to extend the
game mechanics within the curriculum will be
explored. These will include giving student’s
earlier opportunities to level-up, giving them
more choice on how XP can be achieved and
improving the social feedback loop through
peer observations and assessment.
Gamification affords the transparency
and rapid feedback required to keep students
motivated. It is the new token economy worthy
of further investigation.
ACKNOWLEDGMENT
Many thanks goes to Dr Jeffrey Brand for assist-
ing with the factor analysis performed herein.
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Penny de Byl has over 15 years experience teaching, developing and researching games. She
has authored several game development books including Holistic Game Development with Unity
and Programming Believable Game Characters. Penny has worked at universities in Australia
and the Netherlands, led a Serious Games research team and published multiple journal and
conference articles. Penny has received awards for teaching and curriculum design including
a Queensland State Government Smart Women in ICT Award, Australian National Award for
teaching excellence and the Unity Mobile Games Curriculum Award. Dr de Byl is a founding
partner of Aardbei Studios; developing mobile educational games.
... Since 2010, however, the term 'gamification' has increased in popularity not only on the Internet but also in education (De Byl, 2013;Johnson et al., 2012). ...
... (Werbach, 2014, p. 268) According to Karagiorgas and Niemann (2017), there are two different categories of educational games: gamification as such, and serious games. Gamification does not refer to a complete gaming experience but rather to the use of mechanics or elements of games, such as points, rewards, and different levels, in non-entertainment contexts, while serious games are complete games-based experiences that aim at providing users with training and practice in simulated real-world situations and with real-world objects (De Byl, 2013). ...
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