Gamification vs. Game-based thinking

Karl Kapp’s brilliant series of posts on the Learning Circuits site are a must-read for anyone interested in game-based learning. It certainly stirred things up on the usually sedate LC comments pages with several readers arguing against the dark side of gamification and the risk of treating people like lab rats. Kapp draws an interesting distinction between ‘gamification’  (perceived by some as being manipulative, through the misuse/abuse of reward schedules) and ‘game-based thinking’ (the motivational and instructional power of gaming). And his conclusion is hard to disagree with:  “Regardless of what you call it, more game-based thinking can only improve the current state of mind-numbing, page turning e-learning–not harm it.”

Award winning playwright Lucy Prebble’s feature ‘Gaming is an artform, just like theatre’ also provides some interesting insights into how video games can stimulate creativity and lateral thinking. Of course, all of this is heresy to doom-mongers like Baroness Susan Greenfield who make a good living filling up column inches at the Daily Mail on how video games are set to destroy civilisation as we know it. But the games industry is so diverse now that all the good and bad things it’s accused of can be justified with relevant examples, just like cinema, books or television. I guess that goes to prove what a mature and interesting medium it’s become.