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Playful and Gameful

Fostering meaningful Experience afforded by the agency, fun and the engaging aspects of play and games

Research, development and practice within this theme exploit, explore and investigate the mechanics, dynamics and aesthetics of play and gameplay with meaningful and purposeful objectives. This theme includes the study of playful spaces, playful learning,  game-based learning, game design thinking, serious games and gamification and their impact and implication for enhancing learning experience and improving learning outcomes.

The evaluation of the use of pedagogies in game-based techniques (including serious game and gamification) through the lab’s projects revealed the following key points through the evaluation process.

Note: the findings are based on two projects. More lessons learnt will be added based on the analysis of other projects.

Delivery of teaching and learning activity
  • The use of digital games (serious games) and game thinking and techniques in non-game contexts (gamification, game design thinking) has demonstrated potential in engaging learners in a more hybrid or blended approach i.e. use of a pervasive game for supporting active learning and the use of a social platform with gamification features for supporting team work.
  • Existing projects have provided examples of how playful spaces, digital games game design thinking and gamification can be used to support teaching and learning.
  • The use of gamified and socially-driven platforms for co-curation of resources demonstrates how an informal digital solution can be used to complement learners’ formal learning activity in a more social and playful way.
  • Online collaboration scaffolded using gamification techniques enables the influences of collaboration and competition in learning environments to be investigated. Early findings indicate that competitive gamification has been useful to increase (short term) participation in the collaborative work.
  • Using game design thinking to facilitate collaborations between learners and tutors as co-designers of learning strategies provide a model for how barriers in relationships between teachers and students can be reduced enabling students to tackle problems within a professional setting towards improving their workplace skills.
  • Using the gamified online platform based on the Problem Based learning model has demonstrated students using it for storing information related to specific problems (part of their coursework) and reuse those contents for their oral presentations (formal assessment).
  • Gamification of learning does not necessarily result in improved attainment for all students but lecturers commented that gamified approaches could be used more broadly than what they were designed to do (there were more than 1,200 students’ posts). Gamification has shown to increase engagement and participation.
  • There is an assumption that the use of competitive gamification is useful to onboard learners onto the learning process and a more intrinsic approach has to be designed to sustain engagement.
Assessment (based solely on Starquest findings)

Findings demonstrated the impact of motivational conditions of learners on learning dynamics and the impact of competitive/collaborative environments on summative assessment

  • Subject area being studied may attract different types of students (which may influence what climate would be best for summative assessment)
  • The use of gamified platforms in formal/informal settings might affect students’ commitment. The use of the platform was informal but the content generated was used in formal assessment (informal approach was included in formal setup).
  • There soon will be new findings on the use of the platform as part of the formal assessment (based on phase 2), where the gamified platform has been used to curate resources used in tutorial sessions and formal oral presentations as part of the coursework.
Review and improvement of programmes and practice
  • The social aspect of the online platform may explain the level of contribution to control/collaborative groups whereas the competitive mode may have discouraged some engagement. One of the challenges is to engage students who were not keen on using it. However, the groups within the competitive mode performed better in the coursework. Further work should include the considerations of learner types for designing gamification for learning.
  • Blended learning approaches combine aspects of physical environment and contextualised digital information via mobile devices with traditional classroom attendance.
  • Active learning based on a pervasive approach has the potential to support deeper learning and further engagement with the surroundings as part of the learning experience.
  • Leaderboards which monitor progress can be used to promote reflection and targeted feedback.
Student support and guidance
  • Coursework outcomes might vary depending on the level of support given towards the use of a gamified platform.
  • Lecturers commented that from a teaching point of view the gamified online platform is relatively easy to view, edit and manage groups and is good to keep track of student engagement.
  • Students used the gamified platform in ways which were not anticipated (social component/competitive aspects) and showed an interest for the immersive side of game-based learning experiences.
  • Pervasive learning using a location-based game app was observed to be highly engaging with the learners. However, the issue of safety is required to ensure that they are aware of the surroundings while carrying out their learning outdoors.
Effective use of resources
  • Social/gamified collaboration applications host private online environments for small groups to share/co-curate digital contents.
  • The use of gamified platforms might be more appropriate for first year students, as some groups of second year students were already using other platforms, which may have caused confusion to using a new platform.
  • Evaluation of open-source authoring tools for pervasive gaming (for example MIT’s TaleBlazer).
Already developed tools/frameworks
  • Starquest platform
  • Imparapp game prototype completed with further development based on feedback
  • The holistic gamified learning design model developed at the lab, that has informed Imparapp and other projects (such as GameChangers and Beaconing)
  • The GameChangers game design thinking programme and the game-based learning tools (card games, playful spaces)
Other projects to be analysed for Playful and Gameful:
  1. gamechangers
    1. what is your story cards – meta-experiantial design using game-based learning tool (non digital)
    2. escapED – playful spaces and game-based learning
  2. Erasmus plus playing for real
    1. Gamification framework for capacity building
  3. Immersive narrative
  4. Beaconing
  5. C4Rs


PDF DocumentCompetition And Collaboration Using A Social And Gamified Online Learning Platform
Sylvester Arnab, Roy Bhakta, Sarah Kate Merry,
Mike Smith, Kam Star, Michael Duncan




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