Gamification in Learning

Video gaming has a short history on our planet. The Atari 2600 is credited with popularizing modern home gaming, and it was only released in 1977, less than half a century ago. Back then, it was big chunky pixels, blips and boops for sound, and very simple gameplay that relied on shooting aliens once to kill them, rather than having to find weak points or navigate by stealth through treacherous environments.

Today, video gaming is a major industry. Gaming videos generate millions of pounds of ad revenue for their creators, youngsters head to major tournaments to win prize pots worth $1m upwards, and the collaborate, independent spirit of gamers means you don’t need to be a programming genius hired by a big company to make a fun game today.

One thing that video games should tell us is the important of gamification in learning. Games such as Minecraft provide a construction based sandbox where the player can build literally anything they want out of very simple cube based elements. From gardens, to caves, to factories and even further – working cannons, construction cranes and even a 1:1 scale replica of the USS Enterprise! Similar to that, Little Big Planet was designed for the players to develop their own 2D platforming levels – but even the developers were surprised when players were designing music boxes and calculators!

The point of this is, no one started playing any of these games with the mindset that they would contribute to their creative skills. But today, transferable skills learnt from video games into the job market is a big thing. Dr Curtis Nicholls teaches financial accounting at Bucknell University in the USA, He see parallels in what he teaches in the gaming world.

“Think of the trading and online marketplaces that exist massive multiplayer online style-games. I’ve seen players build pretty massive online spreadsheet systems made by players looking to exploit systems and work on the margins. It’s profit and loss models. It’s basically coming up with an economics statement.”

Gaming produces strong leaders too. In World of Warcraft, players come together to form guilds which go on all-encompasses quests to defeat an enemy impossible for them to take on alone. A guild master will need to lead the group – and assign roles to assistants and advisors to support the master. Communication and problem solving are paramount for success in guilds. That’s also true in esports games like League of Legends where all players bring different skills to their team.

So, next time you see a gamer putting hours into that big online game, or creative project through the screen, don’t think about how much of their time they’re wasting – think about the skills they might bring to a job role. You might be surprised.