Gamified education/training and the frameworks of AI, AR, VR and Blockchain - Part IΙ: About gamified education/training

Gamified education/training and the frameworks of AI, AR, VR and Blockchain - Part IΙ: About gamified education/training

04 Jan 2022

WIDE Services

News & updates from WIDE Services

View Profile

This informal CPD article is Part II of the Gamified education training and the frameworks of AI, AR, VR and Blockchain provided by Vasilis Palilis director of WIDE Training Academy of the WIDE Services company. This extended article comprises 4 parts.

  1. In the first part, "Well-structured e-learning process", we discuss the properties of a well-structured e-learning process, and the reason for adding gamification to it.
  2. In the second part, "About gamified education/training ", we explore the "WHAT - WHY - HOW" of a gamified e-learning process.
  3. In the third part, "Virtual & Augmented reality in gamified education/training", we explore the relationship between VR & AR educational environments and Gamification.
  4. In the fourth part, "Artificial Intelligence in gamified education/training and educational topics that are (maybe) served in Blockchain applications", we explore the relationship of AI educational environments with Gamification and the educational applications in Blockchain networks. 

In this article we will scrutinize how gamification can enrich a well-structured e-learning process, increasing learner engagement. We will also further explore the modern technology educational environments. Let’s step forward with the 2nd part.

Part 2- About gamified education training

The prevailing view of Gamification can be summarized in the definition that Prof. Kevin Werbach gives: "Gamification is the use of game elements and game design techniques in non-game contexts”(1). Another similar definition of gamification – by Deterding, Dixon, Khaled & Nacke is the following: "The use of game elements and game techniques in non-game contexts"(2).

Professor Carl Cap in his remarkable book ‘The Gamification of Learning and Instruction: Game-Based Methods and Strategies For Training And Education' specifies the functions of Gamification in the educational context noting that "Gamification is using game-based mechanics, aesthetics and game thinking to engage people, motivate action, promote learning, and solve problems".

Let's see what this suggests for the gamification of content. He differentiates between two types of gamification.

  • The first type is Structural Gamification. This is the application of game-elements to propel a learner through content with no alteration or changes to the content itself. The content does not become game-like, only the structure around the content. The primary focus behind this type of gamification is to motivate the learner to go through the content and to engage them in the process of learning through rewards. The most common elements in this type of gamification are points, badges, achievements and levels. This type of gamification also typically has a leaderboard and methods of tracking learning progress. It also has a social component where learners can share accomplishments with other learners and share what they have achieved.
  • The second type is Content Gamification. This is the application of game elements and game thinking to alter content to make it more game-like. For example, adding story elements to a compliance course or starting a course with a challenge instead of a list of objectives are both methods of content gamification. Adding these elements makes the content more game-like but doesn’t turn the content into a game. It simply provides context or activities which are used within games and adds them to the content being taught. 

But apart from the content, let's have a look at Gabe Zichermann's thoughts on the teaching approach. He criticizes the educational procedure of “Sit down and pay attention”, as fundamentally opposed to our nature as “doers”, he believes that humans are “doing machines”. He thinks that gamification (use the best ideas from games, loyalty programs and behavioral economics to engage and educate people in a new way) affects motivation in a way that literally reading and lectures could not.

How powerful gamification is transforming education

He introduces three core concepts - the three F's - that explain how powerful gamification is in transforming education. These are:

  • Feedback (is the process of giving learners information on how they’re doing),
  • Friends (make up the social context for our gamified system) and
  • Fun

Gabe believes that the above 3Fs, especially within the field of education, engage people in a problem-solving process. Gabe’s views enable us to check whether an educational program is properly designed, since the first two "F's" are the building blocks of a successful program. The third "F"-Fun is the new and important point.

Nicole Lazzaro studies the last element in more detail and breaks it down into 4 sub-elements:

  1. Easy Fun: Just chilling, goofing off.
  2. Hard fun: Challenges, overcoming obstacles, problem-solving, mastering-completing something. These things are fun because we reach a point where we have accomplished something, we overcame a situation.
  3. People fun: Social interaction
  4. Serious fun: The fun of giving to others. There is a fun element when we do things that are meaningful both for ourselves but also for others. For example, doing something good for the planet, your family or your community.

Let us note here that Gabe and Nicole do not belong to the educational field, nor do so most of the Gamification people. But they are exploring aspects of human behaviour that are universal and can be applied to various fields. Surely psychology is more appropriate to theorize these behaviours. So let's look at the psychological view of human motivation that Gabe and Nicole found in their own work.

Self-determination Theory (SDT)

In 1970, two psychologists named Edward Deci and Richard Ryan developed the basis of Self-determination Theory (SDT) (3). Studies of this theory have shown that people are not always motivated by rewards and that the most powerful and effective type of motivation is the intrinsic one.

Intrinsic motivation is the prototype of internal autonomous motivation. It means doing an activity because you find it interesting and enjoyable. Intrinsic motivation promotes learning and revitalization at all ages. Children playing is a great example of intrinsic motivation, wonder who has ever had to motivate a child to play. It is in our nature to be active and play as an expression of our inherent active nature.

On the other hand, extrinsic motivation is described as doing an activity because it leads to some separable (e.g. rewards, avoidance of punishment, trying to gain social approval, etc.).

A question is set, whether these two types of motivation are additive or in general there is an interaction between each other. The rewards can actually demotivate people. This may sound strange but empirical studies have confirmed it. The main reason for that is because the presence of extrinsic motivators can remove the intrinsic motivation. This substitution has, as a result, the replacement of the intrinsic motivation by the less effective and problematic extrinsic motivation of the rewards.

About gamified education training - In conclusion

Ideally, every gamification system should be based on the self-determination theory and thus attempt to implement the aspects of intrinsic motivation. Even the Point-Badges-Level game elements need to be used in a sophisticated way that can actually intrinsically motivate people to engage in the activity.

Ideally, all those elements that make the process fun will bring positive results and will have a positive effect on the further involvement of the learners. Some examples are: 

  • Challenges/tasks that learners complete and progress towards defined objectives; The visualization of progress in a bar, for example, gives the learner satisfaction about the step-by-step process towards its completion.
  • Social interaction and the fun of giving/supporting others to reach the common tasks. For example, the visualization, social graph or rating system gives the learner satisfaction about its contribution to the community.
  • Sharing ... learners must be able to share their accomplishments with other learners and demonstrate what they have achieved, feel proud of their achievements. RSS feeds would be helpful in this direction. 

If in the above you have found some ideas that will help you to increase the interest and engagement of your learners, you can implement them, as long as you avoid the drawbacks of gamification and take advantage of its benefits.

We note here some advantages and some disadvantages of the application of Gamification in an educational process. It would be useful for you before you start planning a gamified lesson to enrich this list since you are the only one who knows what your class/learners need in order to gain only the benefits of gamification.

Advantages of Gamification in education

  • Improves knowledge absorption and retention
  • Provides immediate feedback to help learners adjust to learning challenges
  • Applies and practices learning within a meaningful and authentic context
  • Places learners within systems where they can safely manipulate and explore functions
  • Assists with transfer of learning to real-world contexts and problems
  • Promotes cooperation, teamwork, communities of learning and practice  

Disadvantages of Gamification in education

  • Distracts learners from learning objectives
  • Leads to overstimulation or game play addiction
  • Replaces other learning activities such as hands-on experiments and simulations
  • Does not meet the learning needs of all learners
  • Blurs boundaries between virtuality and reality
  • Absorb teaching resources for other resources 

We hope this article was helpful. For more information from WIDE Services, please visit their CPD Member Directory page. Alternatively please visit the CPD Industry Hubs for more CPD articles, courses and events relevant to your Continuing Professional Development requirements.


(1) Kim, T.W., Werbach, K. (2016) More than just a game: ethical issues in gamification. Ethics Inf Technol 18, 157–173 (2016).

(2) Deterding, Dixon, Khaled & Nacke (2011) ‘From game design elements to gamefulness: defining ‘gamification’, in MindTrek '11: Proceedings of the 15th International Academic MindTrek Conference: Envisioning Future Media Environments, Pages 9–15.

(3) Ryan, R. M.; Deci, E. L. (2000). "Self-determination theory and the facilitation of intrinsic motivation, social development, and well-being". American Psychologist. 55 (1): 68–78.

Related Articles

WIDE Services

WIDE Services

For more information from WIDE Services, please visit their CPD Member Directory page. Alternatively please visit the CPD Industry Hubs for more CPD articles, courses and events relevant to your Continuing Professional Development requirements.

Want to learn more?

View Profile

Get industry-related content straight to your inbox

By signing up to our site you are agreeing to our privacy policy