2017 - The Year of Gameful Design

This year I want to focus more attention on delivering quality video blogs to you. This was really well received last year when I analysed a game in real time to show what we can learn. Fortunately I should be receiving a new camera set up this week to make sure the video quality is top notch.

I also want to keep up the attack on what we understand from gamification, looking at whether or not the word has already run its course and if we should be looking at alternate ways of describing the process we are going on as designers. This campaign of mine started in 2016 at the Learning Technologies conference and continued with phenomenal support in 2017.

We’re starting to see this new philosophy of digital games in education finally take foot.

The White House hosted “Game Jam” inviting more than 100 of the world’s best designers to get together to create educational games.

Given a mere 48 hours and some very challenging prompts, more than two dozen teams of game developers and educational software developers put together some terrific examples of integrated learning and game mechanics.

A team from Disney made “Gloobal Doomination,” which required players to make thoughtful decisions to foster biodiversity, to save their cute “gloobs” from extinction events. A team of students from UNC-Charlotte made a game that made the physics concepts of acceleration and velocity not only visible, but playable.

Another team tackled the Electoral College, a notoriously tricky subject for social studies teachers (and television pundits) by inviting players to go head-to-head to win the ‘ground game’ of an election. All these games demonstrated unlocking the games in learning… and all of them were fun.

Richard Culatta, the director of the White House’s Office of Educational Technology, has challenged game makers to “make fun and learning indistinguishable.”

Just a scant couple years from the gamification craze, such enlightened perspective hearkens a bright future. I believe that 2017 is the year that the true understanding of games becomes realised in our industry. Utilising the power of clever design to produce an experience that can be classed as truly fun and behaviour changing without the need for the gimmicks that plague our current understanding.

So in 2017 we need to kick our basic understanding of gamification and continuing to build on where the focus should be, fun and effective games. Educating clients with factual information and changing perceptions from the top of the industry down. Of course given the continued expansion of technology we’re going to have even more options at our finger tips along with an increasingly tech-savvy audience. It’s going to be a good year, just be prepared to throw everything you think you know out of the window… 2017 is the year of Gameful Design.

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