The Games People Play
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The Games People Play

I believe more attention needs to be placed on what is the core function and raîson d’étre of educational institutions and that is teaching. So the question what can we do to improve the teaching experience of our students? One new model of education that has emerged in recent years is that of ‘gamification’.



Gamification refers to the application of digital game mechanics to non-game situations to motivate users’ behaviours (Deterding, Dixon, Khaled, & Nacke, 2011). Gamification in education refers to the incorporation of game design elements and “gameful experiences” in the design of learning processes. The use of games has been adopted to support learning in a wide variety of contexts, subject areas and also to encourage both collaboration and self-guided study. It has also been suggested that using games would help students complete of assignments because it made assessment more accessible and more effective. However, it could well be argued that “gamification cannot be successfully implemented into the classroom without the support of a solid technological infrastructure” (Dichev et al, 2015, p.4). The world of computer gaming has provided this infrastructure. Technology is also providing access to phenomena that might otherwise remain opaque to many novices, particularly so-called experiential learners.


Game-Based Learning Case Studies

The Mekong e-Sim is an online learning environment that uses simulation and role-playing to immerse students in the complexities of authentic decision making, helping them develop the communication, collaboration, and leadership skills they will need to be successful practitioners in their fields.

The Agora. Students in The University of British Columbia’s Department of Classical, Near Eastern, and Religious Studies have created 3D virtual reconstructions of the ancient Athenian marketplace known as the Agora and were required to present a rationale for the design choices they made as they built their replicas of the agora’s theatre, museum, and mint.

Drones to the Rescue. The class is divided into groups. They are given the scenario that they have to deliver medical products to stranded families in flood ravaged Victoria along with instructions on how to use the drone, take off, medical pickup and flooded farms ‘locations’, which are A4 sheets set reasonable distances apart. Groups have to work out the job allocation to best complete the task.



Today’s Web-based learning environments give students access to many of the same resources that professionals use in their research. Technology is also providing access to phenomena that might otherwise remain opaque to many novices, particularly so-called experiential learners. Software visualizations, images, audio, and haptics bring abstractions to life. For instance, when scientific, mathematic, and engineering concepts require learners to build abstract mental models that involve invisible factors, such as intangible force fields and interactions among charged particles, visualization and haptic devices can be used to help learners feel force, pressure, and temperature.

So on balance, the new models offer a new universe of educational possibilities. Gamification is just one aspect of this universe which needs exploration.






Associate Professor Tom O’Connor is the Associate Program Director, Postgraduate Studies and Manager of Special Projects, Office of the Deputy Vice Chancellor.