Learning Via Gaming: How to Play and How to Win at School

Learning Via Gaming: How to Play and How to Win at School

Even the most animated and well-liked instructors have to work hard at maintaining students’ attention. Our increasingly digital world pits teachers against a number of personal devices and classroom technologies that amplify distraction.

No doubt, teachers could make a full-time job out of simply monitoring unwelcomed cell phone use during class time. But what if, instead of working against the lure of those devices, educators made them even more central? Would you believe it if we told you doing so has been shown to increase completed tasks by 300%?!

Gamification encourages students to do what they do best: play. Today we’re getting curious about how it helps the entire classroom win.

What Is Gamification, and What Makes It Different from Video Games?

“Gamification makes use of game elements in a non-game context to enhance content comprehension and promote better retention of information,” explains eLearning Industry. Its goal is to draw the student in and get them more engaged, something 67% of students report more around gamified experiences than traditional curriculum. By making learning more enjoyable and interactive, it can increase the amount of time students spend studying and learning.

67% of students report more engagement around gamified experiences than traditional curriculum.

It differs from video games and even other game-based learning, which both revolve around games themselves to teach new concepts or educational material, instead of simply utilizing elements of them.

Common types of gamification in the classroom include:

  • Points that can accumulate as concepts are mastered
  • Badges that act as rewards when a learner achieves an educational milestone
  • Leaderboards that can rank students and incite healthy competition
  • Quests that let one choose their own learning adventure
  • Checkpoints that show how learners are progressing toward their goal
  • Battles that challenge students to test their skills

How Is Gamification Good for the Brain?

Gaming has been shown to have distinct impacts on behavior. For starters, gamification is a dopamine-releasing activity, making it particularly motivating for users. But how else does it work in concert with the brain?

1. Gamification elicits an emotional response.

Emotions help make lasting connections to memory. It has to do with how information gets encoded in the brain. Once an emotional link has been made, retrieval is not only easier, but it’s also more efficient.

2. Story-telling helps the brain process better.

Due in part to emotional connection, stories offer our brains a powerful way to process information. Instead of demanding simple fact-recall, many games teach via plot, characters, and other elements of a story that help educational content stand out.

3. The hippocampus gets stimulated, improving recall.

Consider the hippocampus the brain’s memory bank. It controls what gets stored and how much. Gamification can expand when learning new class material. The hippocampus also releases dopamine in the process, helping students keep their focus and concentration.

4. Play releases endorphins and neurotransmitters.

Gamification creates a low-pressure learning environment aided by endorphins, which have a natural ability to calm the mind and relax the body.

5. Games improve neuroplasticity.

The brain is always making new connections as it adapts to new experiences. Playing games exposes the brain to different stimuli and scenarios that can generate new neural pathways and improve mental acuity throughout the lifespan.

Can Actual Video Games Facilitate Learning?

Video games developed with intention can absolutely accelerate learning! Educators need only search for the subject they’re trying to introduce or reinforce.

Most of these digital worlds offer an aspect of spatial orientation and some also specialize in coding functions like logic and data analysis. Many other games are set in historical contexts, giving students an opportunity to see the past from a ‘first-hand’ perspective.

Educational video games like World Rescue, a concept developed by The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization, help students learn real-world skills that are critical for the globalized workforce they will enter. As CNET summarizes, it imparts lessons on foreign cultures, geography, conservation and sustainability, global problems, as well as healthy living, and activism.

Steps to Get Gaming

Gamified class time can be a transformative learning experience. Pro tip: focus on subjects where engagement and focus are lacking. Because gamification is synonymous with motivation, it can be a great way to boost comprehension in tougher subjects.

Game on!


Content created and provided by ONEAFFINITI.