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Learning Strategies

The Essentials of Gamification

March 25, 2022
ND Learning

By Kuang-Chen Hsu

Since the early 2000s, the concept of gamification has been a trending topic, gaining much hype as a means of making complex learning fun and engaging to motivate learners. The goal of this article is to make the basic idea behind this fad intelligible so that its proper use can be taken into account to advance higher education for the future. 

Gamification is the process of implementing game-like elements and game principles into non-game contexts to engage people, motivate action, and influence user behavior. This method used in instruction attempts to invoke the same psychological experiences as gaming does to boost the level of commitment and motivation of learners during activities and processes in which they take part. 


Games and Learning

The motivational affordances and psychological outcomes of games have received heightened attention and interest in academic contexts to reflect the need for increased student engagement and motivation during the learning process. The use of play, the essential activity in games, also has long been thought of as a critical element to enhance learning and knowledge building. Learning through play makes the process fun and can alleviate boredom as students learn. Theoretically, students will obtain knowledge and skills while also experiencing positive feelings, such as delight, and begin to associate these positive emotions to the learning process, creating a positive correlation between their feelings and their learning. Games considered as a pedagogical medium can stimulate the affective dimension of learning. Such learning experiences not only improve learner engagement, but can also influence the learner’s attitudes, opinions, and behaviors in a way that will benefit their future studies.


Spark Educational Innovation with Gamification

The Office of Digital Learning (ODL) takes the educational potentialities of games into account in our design. This genre of learning environment has aspects relating to different theoretical foundations such as cognitive, affective, motivational, and sociocultural, among others. With the inclusion of diverse theoretical perspectives, we can efficiently implement a variety of learning theories and instructional strategies into the game-based design to fulfill different educational needs and potentially do so better than other media.

CS4All is an example in which our office collaborated with professors from Computer Science and Engineering to design a game-based learning experience that helped students comprehend the conceptual knowledge of the basic processes of computer networks.

Designing a game like CS4All to learn seems intimidating for people without experience in game-based learning (GBL) design. However, we can begin with the idea of gamification to restructure assessment plans and learning activities to resemble the logic of games in the learning process. The promise of gamification for learning is in line with GBL, but it provides a more flexible method to implement the concept of GBL into practice.


Look Ahead

To preserve and advance the merits of the concept of gamification forward, we need further exploration and examination of its pedagogical practices. A broad willingness to join us in putting this theory into practice can help create more empirical evidence of gamification that transforms and improves higher education. These examples can also provide insights for educators to innovatively gamify their own courses. If you are interested in the idea of gamification, please contact one of our learning designers at for an individual consultation. We will begin with some low-stakes implications towards gamifying your course(s).