What makes a good game?


The old adage ‘a quick game, is a good game’ I think has a lot of mileage here! Yukaichou identifies 8 core drivers of gamification which I think are good guiding principles:

1-Epic Meaning & Calling

2-Development & Accomplishment

3-Empowerment of Creativity & Feedback

4- Ownership & Possession

5-Social Influence & Relatedness

6-Scarcity & Impatience

7-Unpredictability & Curiosity

8- Loss & Avoidance

Gamification needs to be something that learners buy in to, something that they can immerse themselves in if they wish to- something that has meaning and that will draw them into the game. A very important factor I think, as you will see in my concluding remarks.

Much of the research and writing on gamification recognises the importance of rewards and prizes as well as that element of competition that gamification can bring to the learners experience. Leadership boards, prizes and achievements can be very useful as reward mechanisms (Glover, I. 2013). In unit 4 of the BOE we can see elements of this theory being employed. There is a leadership board with students who have earned the most stars and prizes for students who spotted the most David Bowie song titles in the welcome text. As a learner it is interesting, because I am not sure how this has motivated me to engage more. I enjoy the ideas, but perhaps the leader board is too focused on those at the top, I have no concept of where I am in relation to these other students, so I feel my motivation to catch up is slipping.

I am not sure if I would feel differently if I knew I was at the bottom of the leader board for instance and that factor of loss and avoidance would kick in for me as a learner. It is difficult to say. I do know that as ever studying around work, time has been a real factor for me this last couple of weeks, so even if I knew I was at the bottom of the leader board I am not sure I could have spared more time.

This time factor is something that does strike me about gamification, not just in the designing and delivering of the game, but in the monitoring of it. I listened to the unit 4 podcast during the week on learning analytics which made me think about the performance tracking aspect of gamification (SBOSE 2016). Rules and performance tracking of students is going to be a really important aspect of games. However this might place more pressure on tutors, lecturers and teachers. The idea of some sort of consequence for learners if they are not on track or participating fully. This is where the idea of learning analytics and gamification crossed over for me, having the data and being able to analyse data is difficult in a meaningful way sometimes.

So what makes a good game; is clear goals, something that is easy to engage with, clear rules, rewards and progress tracking mechanisms. However there may be all of the mechanisms in place to make a game good, but this does assume that there is a willingness among students to participate and ultimately what makes a good game- it is, I would say the people that play it. The engagement with other learners is a really important factor and maybe the most important factor when it comes to a good game and determining the success of a game.

Glover, I (2013). Play as you learn: Gamification as a technique for motivating learners. Available from: http://shura.shu.ac.uk/7172/1/Glover_-_Play_As_You_Learn_-_proceeding_112246.pdf [Accessed 17.04.16]

SBOSE (2016) Unit 4 Episode 2: What are Learning Analytics? [Podcast] Available from: http://sbose.podomatic.com/entry/2016-04-11T00_00_00-07_00 [Accessed 12th April 2016].

Yukaichou (no date) Octalysis: Complete Gamification Framework. Available from: http://yukaichou.com/gamification-examples/octalysis-complete-gamification-framework/#.VwONQ3pNdlx [Accessed 15th April 2016]


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