In addition to the “fun” aspect of gaming, there are a lot of additional mechanics that are added to games in an effort to make them more compelling for the player. Some examples of these kinds of “game-like elements” include but are not limited to points systems and leaderboards, achievements and badge systems, narrative, progress bars and meters, choice systems and more.
The process of adding these gamelike elements to non-gaming activities is known as gamification, and ultimately its about making an experience more compelling. Weight Watchers, Nike+, credit card reward programs, FourSquare and shopper loyalty cards are just a few common examples of ways that gamification has taken root in our every day lives.
Can pieces of games change behaviors in ways that education can benefit from? The EGC is in the process of exploring this question right now.
Educause’s 7 Things You Should Know About Gamification is a great, concise, introductory resource for learning more about gamification. (For information specifically on gamification using badges, Educause has also put together 7 Things You Should Know About Badges)
Gamification.org is an excellent site for those interested in a wide range of gamification topics – from overviews of individual game mechanics, to books, videos, and presentations on the topic, to examples in a wide range of fields (including education).
One of the most popular examples of Gamification in HigherEd comes from Lee Sheldon, an Associate Professor in Rensselaer’s Department of Language, Literature, and Communication. Sheldon gamified one of his design courses by converting points to experience, grades to levels, and adding student avatars among other things. Check out his post mortem on the class, which includes student feedback, his own personal notes, and the course syllabus.