CHURCHILL CLUB: Tony wrapped up a lively panel on technology and gaming in education at Microsoft HQ last week (organized by the Churchill club) with a question that's bugged him for quite some time: what are the most treacherous pitfalls of gamification, whether you're developing games or even just talking about them? Here's what they said:
Noah Wardrip-Fruin (Associate Professor of Computer Science, UC Santa Cruz): Play, not rewards, is at the heart of games. Games are not connected to points in any way except in structuring this core play experience. Gamification needs to focus on re-thinking the core activity--"playification"--rather than using play as mere decoration.
Lucien Vattel (Executive Director, GameDesk): Rewards without context and meaning are not really rewards. We know when we're duped. We've learned from history that all these types of surface-feature rewards are meaningless in the end. Traditional test-taking is in that category.
Anthony Salcito (Vice President of Worldwide Education, Microsoft): Let's look at gamification as a core design principle that exists beyond video games or electronic media. As a form of communication, games can be seen as a language that is inherently motivating, and which can drive teamwork and cooperation.
Ben Chun (Teacher, Galileo Academy of Science & Technology): Artificial gamification can be dangerous. We should be cautious in how we use it to structure social interactions; we also need to pay attention to the psychology of how rewards affect the progress of learners. Students who don't have as many gold stars as their peers may reach incorrect conclusions about themselves and their learning potential.
Linda Burch (Chief Education & Strategy Officer, Common Sense Media): Gamification undersells the learning potential that is in gameplay, whether it's collaboration, exploration, or questing. Kids are engaged in games for a lot more reasons than scooping up rewards. How we talk about games publicly is important, and we need to come up with a more robust language of why this is really great learning.