Thursday, May 16, 2013

Gamification?!? Not another attempt to dig up an old buzz word....

If you haven't already noticed, we at hawt are aligned with the term gamification.  Our company's vision is "Education via Gamification", but what does "gamification" mean?

According to Wikipedia:
Gamification is the use of game thinking and game mechanics in a non-game context in order to engage users and solve problems. Gamification is used in applications and processes to improve user engagement, Return on Investment, data quality, timeliness, and learning. The word was coined by Nick Pelling.
There are lots and lots of other theories and papers behind what "Gamification" means or should be and we won't go into it in this post. If you are interested however, just do a quick search for gamification on Google and you will find loads of resources relating to gamification.

What is important here is how do we, at hawt interpret and apply gamification in our educational games/apps.

Gamification to us are many things but at the core, it is about modifying the users (or learners) behaviour using methods which is engaging and motivating.

What we are seeing is that many education apps on the market have a strong focus on the educational content/outcome but has little or no consideration of the end users  or learners who will be using them.  A lot of them have pretty graphics and sounds for the target audience, however, often the polish is only surface deep and does not have any gaming/motivational elements to engage and keep the learners coming back.

Learners will often only use these apps when they are required or instructed to but are lacking self-motivation to continue using/learning from these apps.  You can have the best educational content in the world but if no one utilises it then it may as well not be created.

At hawt, we believe the gaming component is the key element of motivation for our target learners to be engaged in our apps, and the education content is simply a by-product.

This does not mean that we don't value or care about the educational component.  In fact, we value our educational content so highly, we make sure our learners are constantly engaged and always wanting to play/learn one more time (without them even knowing).

I suppose that is our ultimate goal.  We want our users to be constantly learning and improving without even knowing it.  We want our users to be so immersed in the gaming design and concept, that everything they may find boring or mundane in the learning process disappears and is actually turned upside down so that they are itching to learn or play more.

Lofty goals, sure, and we at hawt will give a good crack at it.  If our games can motivate our users to play and learn from our game just a few more times than they otherwise would have, then it's mission accomplished from our point of view.

In coming posts, we will talk more about 'gamification' and why we value it so highly, not only in our apps but in how we work and as a way of life (sounds deep doesn't it?).  We will also be releasing more information about our upcoming educational game/app to be released on iTunes via the Apple iOS App store and the Android Market in Q3/Q4 2013.