Solving Problems with Gamification

After game designer and author Jane McGonigal gave it a solid definition back in 2010, gamification has come to describe the application of real-world situations in games.

As game players tend to present their best selves while playing—growing smarter, wiser and more confident than in real life—games seem, in a way, to have the ability to turn into significant educational tools, as long as they are appropriately used.

If the game is designed specifically to both entertain and focus one’s brain and confidence on a question requiring an answer, the player is given what he or she needs to solve important problems. In fact, gamification, when applied correctly, can help people solve some of the biggest and most difficult problems facing humanity.

Gamification in Education

For this reason, gamification has taken the front row in education. As a concept, solving problems using games underlies the notion that making everything simpler and more fun helps one understand and learn more effectively.

Using "game thinking" allows people to have fun with learning, not to mention it makes it much easier to memorize information and reach concrete conclusions. Games admittedly are more engaging and appealing, and playing is always more enjoyable than studying, in the narrow sense of the word. Playing empowers and rewards—two ingredients crucial for effective learning.

It’s interesting to note that games are essential to our minds and bodies, so playing is necessary not only physically but also psychologically. Having fun and being rewarded for winning makes anyone feel good about him-or herself and helps develop skills, shape personality and boost confidence.

With this in mind, gamification not only entertains, but also motivates people to change, makes us smarter and allows us to develop personally as well as a group.

Gamification in Research

So it's no wonder that scholars and scientists all around the world choose to use gamification as part of their teaching and research. Video games can provide the ideal platform for students to solve even the most difficult scientific problems, according to Dr. Seth Cooper, creative director of the Center for Game Science at the University of Washington.

When game concepts and techniques are applied to educational environments, students are given the necessary tools to solve problems that otherwise they would find difficult. Solving problems with gamification improves students’ engagement and increases productivity, as it allows them to focus and think more freely.

Treating any problem as a game gives players the chance to think outside the box and come up with possible solutions that they are not as encouraged to in traditional learning.

Gamification and Productive Collaboration

Gamification as a learning tool of course relies on students working as a team, interacting and offering each other feedback. This way, education becomes more connected and productive, as students are constantly testing and researching, moving forward and taking chances.

They're continuously identifying business or scientific problems and looking for new ways to approach them. This allows them to define and achieve goals more effectively, as they are encouraged to handle questions that arise in the process in a more inspired and open-minded manner.

According to Albert Einstein, "Games are the most elevated form of investigation," not to mention the most engaging and fun. If games encourage a way of thinking and behaving that allows for better collaboration, constructive feedback and confident problem-solving, isn’t then gamification beneficial to education?

If this somewhat complex system is applied correctly, it can open highly promising new possibilities in research, teaching, learning and advanced problem-solving.

What more: Check out Enterprise Gamification: Growing Engagement through Game Thinking