By definition, the term gamification is the application of typical elements of game playing to other areas of activity to encourage engagement; “gamification is exciting because it promises to make the hard stuff in life fun.” (

Okay, so what does that mean to education? I understand that gaming is quite popular among the children and adults of today’s society. I mean, I’ve heard of Pewdiepie,  you know…that person from Sweden who makes a lot of money simply by posting videos of himself playing video games. When I last checked he had over 40 million subscribers! Okay, enough about him. My point is this…if he can have that many followers, there must be something enticing about gaming. Right?


The naysayers would argue that gamification is malarkey. The “older generation” learned just fine without technology and gaming. Technology is an extrinsic motivator and in order to be successful people need to be motivated intrinsically, or within themselves. If we want our students to think on a higher level, playing games would certainly not get them there. So, does this mean we are enforcing lower level thinking by having our students learn through gamification?

There is also the fact that when gaming, people tend to  concentrate so much on one thing that we miss a great deal of whatever goes on around us, as depicted in the famous awareness (selective attention) test from Daniel Simons.

Care to try it yourself? Click on the link below:

People (myself included) seemingly concentrate so hard on counting the number of basketball passes (as stated in the instructions) that they missed seeing the gorilla walk right across the screen!

Some naysayers think gamification is just a trend or phase, and will soon be forgotten as we move on to something new in this ever-changing world.

Collaboration or Isolation?    

Clearly, we can agree that education is improved by constituents collaborating for the good of academic achievement. For example, teachers work in teams, they have their students working in groups, and colleagues work together to create innovative projects. Does gaming encourage collaboration or move us away from working together?

Are We Keeping Up With The Times?  

Yet, I believe we must keep up with the times. Our children are growing up surrounded by technology; so, it’s only fair to include these strategies in our classrooms. Think about it…. How long does an individual stay with a game simply to get from point A to point B? Answer:  a very long time!  … Or, at the very least, until he conquers it. Imagine what that would do for our student’s learning? Mastery!

Research Needed   

I would like to see more research or studies done on the advantages vs disadvantage of gaming and its impact (if any) on education. In our society, we only find things credible if proven. One way to prove something is to conduct a study or research. Even though gaming is not something new, research about its impact is sparse. Should we take gamification at face value? It is what it is?

It is obvious to me that gaming is extremely popular; so, I would like to know how we can utilize this popular phenomenon (gaming) to our advantage by helping us educate our students? Is it possible?  I believe it is.

What are your thoughts about gamification in our educational system? Should teachers design curriculum using game-based instruction or take it to the next level of helping students design their own games? Or, should educators simply go back to basics without including gamification in lesson/curriculum planning?


Doreen Plony has been in education for over thirty years in various roles: teacher, facilitator, and administrator. She is currently an adjunct professor both online and face-to-face at a local community college as well as a curriculum writer for Voki . Her credentials include PhD and CAS in Educational Leadership, MS in Reading, and BA in English. Doreen is passionate about the use of technology to engage student learning.


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