Game based learning and gamification: examples and differences

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Everyone likes to play, it is an integral part of human nature as well as a fun, engaging and creative activity. Playing contributes to physical and mental stimulation, which is why game based learning, more often than not, helps acquire disciplinary and socio-emotional skills.

Gaming can be used both in schools and in companies and should not be confused with gamification. They are two distinct concepts. Let us try to understand them better, step by step.

Table of contents

Game based learning: what it is

Game based learning refers to learning realised through (analogue) games or video games. The latter, which are the result of digital transformation, are regarded as a medium of choice to achieve learning objectives.

Technologies such as virtual reality (VR) allow players to be immersed in scenarios recreated in computer graphics. Learners put themselves in someone else’s shoes, become the absolute protagonists of the story and relate to the themes dealt with by the game.

In other words, game based learning takes the form of an educational tool that, by exploiting an immersive logic, disseminates culture.

Escape rooms

Examples of game based learning are escape rooms (virtual or real makes no difference, since the goal is the same: to stimulate lateral thinking and problem solving skills). They, with an infinite number of settings, give the player the opportunity to develop skills of various kinds that do not imply consequences in the real world. It is a game, indeed!

Serious games aim at educating through entertainment. They often use cartoon techniques and combine play and educational elements. Their aim is sharing an educational, effective and enjoyable experience that puts the user and their choices at the centre of everything.

Examples

VITECO, a company engaged in edutainment (the cradle of education and entertainment), has developed a multitude of serious games. Here are some of them (click or tap on the links to play them):

Projects

Among VITECO’s most recent projects we can find Food Gaming For Active Ageing (FG4AG) and CO-M-E. The former aims to promote good eating habits among the elderly through serious games; the latter aims to develop a toolkit for educators and carers of the elderly.

The toolkit will consist of:

Both projects use innovative tools to safeguard mental and emotional health.

serious games

Gamification: what it is

According to the Treccani Italian encyclopaedia, gamification is: «the use of mechanisms typical of games and, in particular, video games (points, levels, rewards, virtual goods, rankings), to make users or potential customers participate in the activities of a site and interest them in the services offered».

Dividing a process into levels helps to define individual goals, increases motivation and fuels healthy competition between players through the mechanism of scoring and ranking.

The principle behind gamification is simple: if you have fun, you get better results.

Gamification in the company

Gamification in the company improves production processes. A “gamified” company has multiple advantages, such as:

Differences between game based learning and gamification

Game based learning is more costly than gamification, since it requires the creation of game platforms where multimedia content can be enjoyed. Let’s talk about SCORM and e-learning: the former is a reference model in the world of education, the latter, also known as distance learning (DL), is the set of hardware and software technologies aimed at enriching traditional learning processes with innovative formulas.

Another difference is the clarity of purpose. Whereas the ultimate goal of game based learning is to develop problem solving skills, perhaps through a well organised escape room, that of gamification is to increase employee performance through the inclusion of playful elements within the work environment.

Game based learning is more for learning, as the term itself suggests; gamification is also more useful for increasing engagement.

Of course, there is nothing to prevent game based learning and gamification being used simultaneously. The choice depends on the target audience. How old are the users? What objective do they pursue? These are some of the questions a good manager should ask himself before choosing the most suitable medium.

Conclusions

Game based learning and gamification, although different concepts, are both effective strategies for increasing productivity. Beware though! These are not two “playful activities”, those belong to the world of education and are implemented through web tools such as LearningApps, Wordwall, etc.

Based learning offers a more “experiential” reward (learning while having fun), gamification more “tangible” (awarding prizes, scores, giving badges and gadgets). The common denominator remains the game.

If you need a platform for game based learning or want to apply gamification in your company, contact us. We will be happy to reply and offer you more information.

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