Don’t hate the player…

Hate the game!

Gamification seems to be the buzzword of the moment. Gamification of exercise as shown here, gamification of advertising as explained here and increasingly gamification of education as described here.

The rationale seems to be that people love games and using conventions of gaming like levelling up and gaining achievements motivates people to learn/shop/exercise better.

I don’t know if I agree – I am a gamer – I love getting a new game on my xbox and in fact prefer playing a game to watching a film. This is a generational thing – my dad is the opposite preferring more passive mediums like TV and the radio.

Now here’s the thing – if we are teaching stuff and how to do stuff – is gamification really a good idea?

What happens when you get stuck in a game?

You cheat.

Cheat codes are built into the system and although sometimes this stops certain achievements it is still a perfectly valid way to get through and ‘win’ the game.

Is this the attitude we want within schools? If it gets hard then cheat?

I worry that this gamification ideology is already showing the damage it can have on our system.

Groups like Pixl have been reported as trying to encourage schools to essentially gamify their exam entries – the number of nonsensical level two qualifications the kids get chucked through is obscene in some schools. What on earth is a “computer driving license”?

School leaders are already gamifying  (cheating) the system. What next? Do we applaud pupils for getting hold of exam papers in advance? Do we encourage them to perform tick box activities purely to level up? (Oh… wait…)

In gaming – particularly open world mass multiplayer games like World of Warcraft – “grinding” is a common  practice. It involves playing the same level over and over again for the purpose of gaining experience points or special “loot”. You do not progress in the narrative – it is the same everytime- yet eventually let’s you level up. Why try a hard new level and risk your equipment/ supplies when you can just do the easy stuff over and over again with the same end result?

Schools today are making the pupils do just this. “Grinding” the same exam questions over and over again at the preclusion of other content or skills purely in order to progress to the next level so they can begin the Grinding process all over again.

I don’t want to play. I want to teach.


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