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March 4, 2011 / compassioninpolitics

Game Dynamics of Learning: The Gamification of Training and Performance Improvement

8 Mechanics from the Tech Crunch Panel on Social Gaming and Virtual Goods
Here are 8 of the game mechanics the panel talked about:

1) Hero Effect Dynamic
2) Status & Ego/Pavolivan Mechanics
3) Social and Community Dynamic. Social layer (comparison via scoring) & participation in something larger [mostly in Facebook & social-mobile games]
4) Farmville Harvest Mechanic
5) Challenge Mechanic
6) Badges & Rewards & virtual goods/currency (progress bars & leveling up)
7) Music (and identity) Dynamic
8] The experience of augmented reality (specific type of mobile games)
9) Leaderboards (I don’t think they actually highlighted this one, but its worht nothing)

7 Ways Games Reward the Brain” is a an interesting TED talk on the topic by Tom Chatfield. Brett Bixler, Instructional Designer at Penn State and Evangelist for their Education Gaming Commons, believes there are 5 ways this applies to learning:

1. Use experience bars to measure progress. (milestones/virtual rewards)
2. Multiple long and short-term aims. (sub-goal, main goal, ultimate goal–instead of just ultimate goals)
3 & 4. Reward Effort and Provide Rapid, Frequent Feedback (personalized feedback which provides course correction & recalibrated problem solving)
5. Add an Element of Uncertainty (Risk, Flow, and Challenge–but I think it simulaneous makes it possible to experience failure in a way thats socially acceptable)

Those principles clearly have incredible implications for training and learning in and beyond the classroom:

In another article, Bixler points to Ultrinsic, who is gamifying education already–but there is sure more to be done in this area. Incidently PSU hosts a virtual gaming commons, which has a host of projects and real examples of learning games.

Summary of How Games Function in Life and Learning: “The Holy Grail” or Epic Win of Gaming Dynamics
Michael Wu Phd, who is Lithium’s Principal Scientist of Analytics correctly inquites into the proverbial secret sauce of game mechanics “Magic Potion of Game Dynamics

So why do game mechanics/dynamics have the magical power to turn boring chores into desirable activities?

1. Game dynamics use positive feedbacks (e.g. points, badges, status, progression, customization, surprises, social factors, etc.) to build up the users’ motivation.
2. They increase the perceived ability of users by making difficult jobs simpler and more manageable; either through training/practice or by lowering the activation threshold of the target behavior.
3. Game dynamics place triggers in the path of motivated users when they feel the greatest excess in their ability. That is, triggers that prompt the user for action are designed to bring about the convergence of motivation, ability, and trigger all at the same moment.

Game Mechanics & Learning Resources
Also of note is this on gaming and learning, based on a speech at TED. SCVBGR game dynamics card deck is simply epic. Finally, there is a ton of research on gamification and more specifically the gamification of learning (although this list is far from exhaustive) and game mechanics (rather extensive) and a by industry breakdown of gamification.

Additionally, Karl Kapp highlights Jesse Schells talk along with the cultural phenomena in the media of the gamification of live. Finally, Gabe Zichermann and author and entrepreneur in the area of the gamification of marketing blogs here which he traces book to loyalty programs which started in the 1930s (buy 10 get one free style). BTW, I recommend following Zichermann on Twitter. On a personal sidenote–I haven’t gone through all the literature, but I sense 3 omissions 1) shortcuts and easter eggs (secrets & mystery) 2) specialness 3) autonomy and control (as thats the basis of play). I’m sure the later is in the literature.



Leave a Comment
  1. Michael Wu / Mar 10 2011 9:01 am

    Hello, thank you for citing my blog post on gamification. Great summary on the gamification of education. I’m glad to see that people are putting gamification to good use rather than just making money.

    Just want you to know that the 3rd article in my mini-series on the science of gamification is already out. It goes deep into the 1st factor of the Fogg’s Behavior Model and look into what motivates people from well know theories of classical psychology. Hope you will enjoy it.

    Psychology 101: Motivation for Gamificators

    later this week, I will also publish another post on the 2nd factor. Stay tuned!
    Thanks again for cross linking.

  2. Madison Florence / May 20 2011 2:37 pm

    Good article on game dynamics. The use of games is proven effective in organizational performance and individual development. Well, I recently read a post about how a company as using gamification for employee scheduling to increase sales. Check it out “How Gamification Can Help Increase Sales”(


  1. Gamifying everything « Nitin Badjatia

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