Gamification: Can Games Make the World a Better Place? We think so.

Published on April 11, 2014 | Written by
Incorporating games into our staff meetings

Incorporating games into our staff meetings

At Youthprise we incorporate games into a lot of the work we do. From our staff meetings, to the ways we strategize about communications, we believe that gamifying our work helps to create new possibilities for approaching the work we do. You might be thinking: of course, using gamification is a way to make your work accessible to youth, right? While that can be true, gamification is as important for the work with do with adults as it is for the work with do with youth.

At this point you might be asking yourself, what the heck is gamification anyway? Yesterday, when we attended the Nonprofit Technology and Communications Conference coordinated by the MCN and MAP, we had the opportunity to learn firsthand what gamification is about. Caitlin Cahill hosted a session called, “Gamification and Game-Based Learning” that detailed how applying game design concepts to programming can make the resulting programs more accessible, more motivating, and, obviously, more fun!

Caitlin described gamification as applying game design concepts to non-gaming situations. Whether it is through the use of badges, points or a leaderboard, gamification can increase motivation, increase learning, and as we said above, increase the fun in the office. Caitlin warned against incorporating gamification on a superficial level. Think about the dynamics of the game. Is there a narrative? What is the progression? What are the constraints? For example, if you award badges for the completion of the project, what is the goal of the badges? She encouraged the audience to strategize about what the long-term goals of gamification in an office setting are.

So sounds great, right? Now, how do you go about incorporating gamification into your work? Caitlin offered some great tools for those who were interested. Moodle, BadgeOS, Credly, Leaderboarded and Mindmixer all offer different tools to think about how to use gamification. For those of us working in the out-of-school time field, where digital badges and digital backpacks are already a reality of many of the young people that we work with, gamification is an increasingly relevant tool to transforming the ways we think about learning.

In addition to outlining gamification, Caitlin also shared Jane McGonigal’s TedTalk with the audience. A game designer who is interested in social innovation, Jane’s talk focuses on the benefits of gaming when it comes to making the world a better place. Jane goes into the ways that playing games can help to make the world a better place and argues for the need to spend more hours gaming in order to solve the world’s problems. It sounds counterintuitive, but think about it: in games you are motivated to do something that matters and encouraged to collaborate. Jane argues that in game worlds you become the best version of yourself.

So the question is, how do you take those feelings from games and apply them to the real world? How can we make epic wins possible in the real world? Check out the TedTalk below and think about it for yourself.


by Lizzy Shramko, Storyteller & Online Community Builder

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