Is gamification useful, or just another fad?

Wednesday, June 19th, 2013 By Jack Nevison

Is gamification a fad? That's the question Mashable asks in a recent article.

The term "refers to systems and processes that engage and motivate," according to the news source. The idea is to present small rewards for tasks completed, the way games are often played for points, money or other awards. This is a fairly broad definition, but only because the concept has so many applications.

"Eating a cookie when you finish your homework might encourage your good behavior, but when you run out of cookies, you might find that you enjoyed finishing homework early and continue to do so regardless of cookies," the article read.

But the question of whether gamification is a fad, and whether it may die out in a few years time, can be answered by considering its effectiveness.

For example, with the popular mobile app Foursquare, users can "check in" to different establishments on their smartphones, allowing them to write recommendations and share tips with their friends. However, the service also allows users to earn points and badges as they do so, giving them a reason check in frequently.

In addition, the Mashable article cites teachers who use gamification to encourage student learning. One high school math teacher in Canton, Michigan, devised a curriculum that was broken into a series of levels and offered points to students who completed them.

Finally, even the business world has uses for this technique. New Leaf has run its project management game "Herding Cats" for 17 years, teaching complex management techniques to candidates who are striving for their PMP® certification. New Leaf has also broken its Quantitative Project Manager (QPMTM) web-based program into 15 games.

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