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# Gamification to Math Activities

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## Abstract

This design document relies heavily on the presence of key game mechanics such as point systems, levels, badges, leaderboards, and instant feedback, to build an activity to help players develop an active attitude towards study in general, and math in particular, and to achieve a particular learning goal designed by gamification designer while playing the activity.
Gamification to Math Activities
1. Overview ............................................................................................................................ 2
1.1. Definition, acronyms and abbreviations...................................................................... 2
1.2. Game play (Activity) description ................................................................................ 2
1.2.1. Factors .................................................................................................................. 2
1.2.2. Requirements and Assumptions ........................................................................... 2
1.2.3. Game play ............................................................................................................ 2
1.3. Enemy design .............................................................................................................. 3
2. Theory ................................................................................................................................ 4
2.1. Gamification ................................................................................................................ 4
2.2. Definition of Game (Juul) ........................................................................................... 5
2.3. Game elements ............................................................................................................ 6
2.3.1. Point systems ....................................................................................................... 6
2.3.2. Levels ................................................................................................................... 7
2.3.5. Instant feedback ................................................................................................... 7
3. Conclusion ......................................................................................................................... 8
4. Reference List .................................................................................................................... 8
1. Overview
1.1. Definition, acronyms and abbreviations
XP: experience points
HP: health point
CP: card point
GBL: game based learning
Hall of Fame: the place that contains images of famous people and interesting things
that are connected with them ("Hall of Fame Meaning", n.d.)
Gamification: defined in the next section
According to Haider (2014) there are some specific roles in gamification
o Player: a person who plays the game or interacts with the gamified system
o Gamification designer: a person who creates the design for a gamified system
o Gamification master (GM): a person who operates a gamified system, as well
as monitors and interacts with the player community. The tasks include
running the gamified system smoothly, enforcing rules, discovering cheating
and unintended consequences, creating missions and challenges, handling
disputes and giving feedback, amongst many others. Their task-profile is
comparable to game masters and community managers.
1.2. Game play (Activity) description
1.2.1. Factors
Name: Math Farm
Goal: learn and practice timetables and four basic operators (designed by gamification
designer)
Theme: farm simulation
Duration: 10~15 minutes/session, up to 3 sessions per activity
Players: primary school students, up to 26 students (NSW Department of Education,
2017)
Gamification designer: teacher(s) or a gamification specialist
Gamification master (GM): teachers, parents, volunteers, computers, portable smart
devices
Environment: classroom, play ground
1.2.2. Requirements and Assumptions
To guarantee that the activity provides instant feedback to players, the ratio of
gamification master and players should be 1 GM per 5 players (the fewer players per
GM the better performance). An alternative but big-budget solution is using
technology such as computers or portable smart devices which can provide feedback
instantly. Each device can function as a GM. These GMs will track players’ XP and
coins and automatically generate questions based on player’s skills and level.
The questions must be well prepared before the activity starts.
The instructions must be well prepared, clear and easy to understand.
1.2.3. Game play
Players begin with an empty farm and a fixed starting number of coins which are the primary
currency in the game.
Players move around the environment and attack enemies to collect coins and experience
points (XP). An attack is considered successful when players give a correct answer to a math
question. When an attack is successful, the player earn coins and XP described in enemy’s
detail. There is no penalty for wrong answer. If a player is unable to answer a question, they
can use related instructions as a hint to solve the question without penalty.
XP is used for level up. When players reach a certain level, they will choose a fixed title from
the title list. If a player owns a title, the gamification master must call the player by their title
instead of their real name. Players will be ranked in a leader board based on their XP. Players
XP.
Players can use coins to buy items which are images of houses, decorations, trees, pets, etc. to
design their farm. The best farm will be selected by a vote from all participants at the end of
the semester. The winner will be listed in the Hall of Fame. Coins are also used to exchange
action cards. The person who owns an action card can request another person to perform the
action described in the card. Cards may or may not have rewards. Furthermore, players can
exchange coins for a custom title. The cost for custom title depends on its length followed by
the list below;
Length
Cost
Rate
2 word title
80
40 coins/word
3 word title
90
30 coins/word
4 word title
100
25 coins/word
5 word title
110
22 coins/word
Table 1: Custom title exchange rate
As the activity progresses, the difficulty of questions will be increased based on players level
and skills. When the difficulty increases, the rewards increase as well. At the final session,
time is required to answer a question.
Different players may have different goals when they play. The list below is the possible
goals from this activity:
Buy items for decorating player’s farm
Buy action cards to interact with other players
Maintain high rank in leader board (based on XP)
Save coins as much as possible
1.3. Enemy design
Enemy could be a physical board (or an electronic board if using computer) which contains
cards as attack actions. Each enemy’s difficulty is recognised by animal images. Each attack
action card’s difficulty is also demonstrated by colours and shapes based on Ninoles’s Colour
Theory (Reiner & Wood, 2015, p. 74; Solarski, 2013; Tulleken, 2015).
Attack Action Cards:
Table 2: Attack Action Cards
Enemies:
Minimum score: 3 + 2 + 2 = 7
Maximum score: 2 + 2 + 2 + 3 = 9
Minimum score: 5 + 4 = 2 + 3 + 4 = 9
Maximum score: 5 + 3 + 4 = 12
Minimum score: 3 + 3 + 4 = 10
Maximum score: 5 + 4 + 3 = 12
Minimum score: 3 + 5 + 5 = 13
Maximum score: 3 + 4 + 5 + 5 = 17
Table 3: Enemy Design
Each card has a certain point M which represents for difficulty. Each card is a math question.
When player gives a correct answer for that question, player will earn M coins and XP, then
the enemy loses M HP. The card is taken from enemy’s board. Player’s rewards are recorded.
Total points from cards must be equal or greater than enemy’s HP. A player can pick any
cards to cause damage to the enemy. An enemy dies when it runs out of HP. The player can
maximise their rewards by picking a correct sequence.
2. Theory
2.1. Gamification
The term gamification is used to describe an innovative approach using game mechanics in a
non-gaming environment in order to give it a game-like feel (Deterding et al., 2011). Then
Zichermann (2011a), a leading gamification proponent, enhances the definition by describing
gamification as a process of using game thinking and game mechanics to solve problems
and engage users. Zichermann (2011b) also states that the main purpose of gamification is to
help people achieve their personal mastery by engaging with a complex, learnable game
system. By using Zichermann’s suggestion, this design document relies heavily on the
presence of key game mechanics such as point systems, levels, badges, leaderboards, and
instant feedback, to build an activity to help players develop an active attitude towards study
in general, and math in particular, and to achieve a particular learning goal designed by
gamification designer while playing the activity.
Tulloch argues that as a pedagogic heritage, gamification is not only a simple set of
techniques and mechanics, but also “an alternative framework for training and shaping
participant behaviour that has at its core the concepts of entertainment and engagement”
(2014, p. 13). “Gamification has the power to transform the way we teach and the way we
learn” (Matera, 2015). The reason gamification can match with pedagogy is that there are
some similarities between games and study. The structure of similarities is inherited from
Herger (2014). By using gamification’s techniques, this design document aims to design a
study as an activity that provides gameful experience.
Study
Repetitive, and boring
Feedback
Depend on teacher’s availability
Path to
Mastery
Unclear
Rules
Unclear and nontransparent
Information
Too much and not enough, not
easy to understand
Failure
Forbidden, punished, better to
prevent it at all time
Status of
users
Mostly appear at the end of a
semester or a year
Promotion
Meritocracy but less insight how
and when a promotion happens
Collaboration
Yes
Narrative
If we agree that syllabus is a kind
of narrative then it is a boring
story
Obstacles
Accidental
Table 4: Comparing Game and Study
2.2. Definition of Game (Juul)
To provide gameful experience, this activity should be considered as a game. The table below
explains why the activity is a game by followed Juul’s six-game features (2005, p. 36)
Feature
Reason
Rules
This activity is rule-based. Players must follow and meet requirements to
achieve their goals such earning coins/XP by giving correct answers, or
owning items, action cards, or titles by exchanging coins.
Variable,
quantifiable
outcome
The activity has variable, quantifiable outcomes such as players’ level,
coins, items and rank in a leaderboard.
Valorization of
outcome
The activity generates different potential outcomes with different values,
some positive and some negative. Some players may be interested in
earning as much coins/XP as they can, but other players may participate
the activity to learn and practice their learning goal. Some learning goals
may or may not be achieved.
Player effort
Player must exert effort in order to accomplish their goal.
Player attached
to outcome
Players may attach their emotion to the outcome. A player may feel
“happy” when they earn the highest coins in the activity, but another
player may feel “unhappy” if he/she places low rank in the Leaderboards.
Negotiable
consequences
This activity is played without real-life consequences. All coins, items,
action cards and titles are only available within the activity.
Table 5: Juul’s six game features
2.3. Game elements
2.3.1. Point systems
Points are important and absolutely required for all gamified systems (Zichermann &
Cunningham, 2011). Instead of forcing students to complete 10 questions as a homework
task, Math Farm motivates players by saying “Let’s perform 10 attacks to an enemy then you
will earn 50 coins and XP”. Furthermore, player’s points will show how they interact with the
system. Math Farm only uses two of Zichermann and Cunningham’s five-point designs
(2011, pp.36).
Experience points (XP)
XP is the most important from five kinds of point systems (Zichermann & Cunningham,
2011, p. 38). XP is used to watch, rank, and guide players. Everything a player does within
the system will earn some XP and, in most games (except for some Role-Playing Games),
XP never goes down and cannot be redeemed. In Math Farm, a player earns XP by giving
correct answer with or without using hints. Moreover, there is no penalty for XP. XP is only
used for measuring and ranking player’s skills. Players’ XP can expire say after a semester
to create goal loops and give newcomers a chance to catch up. This pattern is often used in
frequent-flyer programs (Zichermann & Cunningham, 2011, p. 39). Furthermore, another use
of XP in Math Farm is earning fixed titles when players reach certain milestones. This is a
kind of extra common reward because any player can get fixed titles. However, it produces a
motivation for players to perform repetitive tasks without getting bored.
Redeemable points
Unlike XP, redeemable points (RP) can fluctuate (Zichermann & Cunningham, 2011, p. 39).
In Math Farm, coins are RP which are used in exchange for things such as items, custom
titles, action cards. Coins are earned and cashed. By learning from Zynga’s FarmVille design,
coins in Math Farm, on the other hand, can be used to incentivize player behaviours. In
FarmVille, players mindlessly perform in-game activities (e.g., harvest crops or visit their
neighbours) for RP (Farm Coins), then players use Farm Coins to purchase decorations such
as buildings, fences, flags and more. Math Farm’s players have more extrinsic motivation to
earn coins to purchase action cards and custom titles.
Using motivation to drive human behaviour is the important factor in gamification
(Nicholson, 2012; Xu 2012); however, this technique has its disadvantages. According to
Stieglitz et al. (2017, p. 21), the way to change behaviour requires both intrinsic and extrinsic
motivations. For example, in both FarmVille and Math Farm, motivation is extrinsic because
players do things for their positive outcomes, they may lose the desire for these outcomes
over the course of time.
To increase intrinsic motivation, players may have a quick real test after the activity. The test
is designed based on the questions used in the activity. Players may have more intrinsic
motivation when they get a high mark. Another suggestion to produce intrinsic motivation is
instead of allowing players to earn a reward through repeated tasks, the activity provides
players with a chance to enter into a lottery (Reiners & Wood, 2015, p. 91) each time players
reach a certain level. The lottery’s prize may be a bunch of coins or a unique rare title or
action card.
2.3.2. Levels
In games, levels indicate player’s progress. In Math Farm, levels are clearly expressed by the
difficulty of the questions through the types of enemies and the shape and colour of the attack
action cards. Zichermann and Cunningham (2011, p. 45) suggest that levels serve as a marker
for players to know where they stand in a gaming experience over time. In Math Farm, for
example, in session 3 players who have high XP (level) may deal with more kangaroos or
snakes which generate hard and advanced questions than lower level players. To make
players stay longer in the activity, Math Farm also starts with the very simplest levels and
moves progressively toward the complex.
The purpose of a leaderboard is to make simple comparisons and to generate motivations. In
Math Farm, the leaderboard is designed for creating social incentive, rather than disincentive.
A player who can see friends who are on his tail, and above him on the leaderboard, will see
exactly how close he is to the next best score. And he will know exactly what he has to do to
beat it. The names of top three highest XP players from leaderboard will be memorialized in
the Hall of Fame.
People desire badges for all kinds of reasons (Zichermann & Cunning, 2011, pp.55).
Moreover, in a gamified system, the most effective way to hold the attention of players is by
creating random unexpected badges (Harris & O'Gorman, 2014, p. 67; Zichermann &
Cunning, 2011). For example, in Math Farm, a red kangaroo which produces double coins
and XP will randomly appear. The player who defeats that kangaroo will earn Surprise Roo
2.3.5. Instant feedback
One of the most important requirements of Math Farm is that the activity is guaranteed to
give instant feedback to let the player know how they did. Players instantly receive feedback
on their understanding of the concepts which the gamification designers are trying to teach.
Angry Birds is a great example of the use of instant feedback (Herger, 2014). After a player
launches a bird towards the pigs, they automatically know if they succeeded in meeting their
goal. Math Farm may struggle to achieve its goal if players do not receive feedback
immediately when they provide an answer.
3. Conclusion
Math Farm is designed to be a fun and active activity to help students develop motivation in
study. By using gamification, Math Farm offers a new approach to teaching and learning.
4. Reference List
Deterding, S., Dixon, D., Khaled, R., & Nacke, L. (2011). From game design elements to
gamefulness. Proceedings Of The 15Th International Academic Mindtrek Conference On
Envisioning Future Media Environments - Mindtrek '11.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1145/2181037.2181040
Hall of Fame Meaning. Dictionary.cambridge.org. Retrieved 3 November 2017, from
https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/hall-of-fame
Harris, S., & O'Gorman, K. (2014). Mastering Gamification: Customer Engagement in 30
Days. Impackt Publishing Ltd
Herger, M. (2014). Enterprise gamification (1st ed.). CreateSpace Independent Publishing
Platform.
Juul, J. (2005). Half-real: Video games between real rules and fictional worlds. MIT Press
Matera, M. (2015). Explore like a pirate: Gamification and Game-Inspired Course Design to
Engage, Enrich and Elevate Your Learners. Dave Burgess Consulting, Inc.
Nicholson, S. (2012). A user-centered theoretical framework for meaningful gamification. In
Games Learning Society 8.0.
Reiners, T., & Wood, L. (2015). Gamification in education and business. Springer.
Solarski, C. (2013). The Aesthetics of Game Art and Game Design. Gamasutra.com.
Retrieved 31 October 2017, from
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Stieglitz, S., Lattemann, C., Robra-Bissantz, S., Zarnekow, R. & Brockmann, T. (2017).
Gamification - Using Game Elements in Serious Contexts. Progress In IS.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-45557-0
Tulleken, H. (2015). Color in games: An in-depth look at one of game design's most useful
tools. Gamasutra.com. Retrieved 31 October 2017, from
https://www.gamasutra.com/blogs/HermanTulleken/20150729/249761/Color_in_games_An_
indepth_look_at_one_of_game_designs_most_useful_tools.php
Tulloch, R. (2014). Reconceptualising gamification: Play and pedagogy. Digital Culture &
Education, 6:4, 317-333.
Xu, Y. (2012). Literature review on web application gamification and analytics. HI:
Honolulu.
Zichermann, G. (2011a). Gamification by Design. O’Reilly Media, Sebastopol, CA, USA,
2011.
Zichermann, G. (2011b). The purpose of gamification. O'Reilly Radar. Retrieved 31 October
Zichermann, G., & Cunningham, C. (2011). Gamification by design - Implementing Game
Mechanics in Web and Mobile Apps (1st ed.). Cambridge, MA [u.a.]: Oreilly & Assoc. Inc.
... En primer lugar, en el área de ciencias y matemáticas, encontramos "Math farm" (Doan, 2018), una propuesta de actividad gamificada que se describe en el artículo "Gamification to Math Activities" y cuyo objetivo es que los estudiantes de primaria aprendan y practiquen las operaciones matemáticas básicas. Asimismo, Batista da Silva, Leite Sales y Braga de Castro (2019) investigan la eficacia de la gamificación como estrategia de aprendizaje para la enseñanza de la física a través del análisis de un grupo control y un grupo experimental. ...
Thesis
Full-text available
Nowadays, escape rooms have become a renowned form of entertainment in Spain. However, we do not only focus on the ludic side, as they have proven to offer multiple benefits in many fields, such as in teaching foreign languages. As teachers we often deal with students who are demotivated and passive in class. To relieve its negative consequences and to promote communication, team work, cooperation and to develop a meaningful learning process that suits our students’ needs and interests, escape rooms and gamification are our allies. Thus, in this paper we will present the design and testing of an educational escape room within the framework of teaching Spanish as a foreign language, which does not only aim to be an A2 linguistic revision, but it also includes several game and gamification elements, as well as ICT tools, in order to develop a meaningful, engaging and useful learning process in our students. The analysis of both testings show that, from both perspectives (teacher and students) “diamante hispano’s” results are positive and, therefore, corroborate the utility and benefits of such a didactic proposal in educational contexts. Keywords: material design, gamification, educational escape room, ICT.
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Recent years have seen a rapid proliferation of mass-market consumer software that takes inspiration from video games. Usually summarized as "gamification", this trend connects to a sizeable body of existing concepts and research in human-computer interaction and game studies, such as serious games, pervasive games, alternate reality games, or playful design. However, it is not clear how "gamification" relates to these, whether it denotes a novel phenomenon, and how to define it. Thus, in this paper we investigate "gamification" and the historical origins of the term in relation to precursors and similar concepts. It is suggested that "gamified" applications provide insight into novel, gameful phenomena complementary to playful phenomena. Based on our research, we propose a definition of "gamification" as the use of game design elements in non-game contexts.
The Aesthetics of Game Art and Game Design
• C Solarski
Solarski, C. (2013). The Aesthetics of Game Art and Game Design. Gamasutra.com. Retrieved 31 October 2017, from https://www.gamasutra.com/view/feature/185676/the_aesthetics_of_game_art_and_.php
Color in games: An in-depth look at one of game design's most useful tools. Gamasutra.com. Retrieved 31 Reconceptualising gamification: Play and pedagogy
• H R Tulleken
Tulleken, H. (2015). Color in games: An in-depth look at one of game design's most useful tools. Gamasutra.com. Retrieved 31 October 2017, from https://www.gamasutra.com/blogs/HermanTulleken/20150729/249761/Color_in_games_An_ indepth_look_at_one_of_game_designs_most_useful_tools.php Tulloch, R. (2014). Reconceptualising gamification: Play and pedagogy. Digital Culture & Education, 6:4, 317-333.
From game design elements to gamefulness. Proceedings Of The 15Th International Academic Mindtrek Conference On Envisioning Future Media Environments-Mindtrek '11
• Reference List Deterding
• S Dixon
• D Khaled
• R Nacke
Reference List Deterding, S., Dixon, D., Khaled, R., & Nacke, L. (2011). From game design elements to gamefulness. Proceedings Of The 15Th International Academic Mindtrek Conference On Envisioning Future Media Environments-Mindtrek '11. http://dx.doi.org/10.1145/2181037.2181040
• Fame Hall
• Meaning
Hall of Fame Meaning. Dictionary.cambridge.org. Retrieved 3 November 2017, from https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/hall-of-fame
Mastering Gamification: Customer Engagement in 30
• S Harris
• K Gorman
Harris, S., & O'Gorman, K. (2014). Mastering Gamification: Customer Engagement in 30
Enterprise gamification
• M Herger
Herger, M. (2014). Enterprise gamification (1st ed.). CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform.