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Games-Based Learning or Gamification? What Are They?

by Glen

There’s some confusion between games-based learning and gamification because, quite frankly in modern parlance, they mean pretty much the same thing.

Pedagogically wise there is subtle difference between the two phrases.

Games-Based Learning (GBL) is learning through games. It does not necessitate the use of computer games. GBL is primarily about the game where learning is a result of playing the game.

Gamification is the application of game elements to another objective like learning. Gamification does not require students to use electronics. It also doesn’t need elaborate systems of points or achievements. Here it is about using elements of games to encourage learning.

So Games Based Learning (GBL) is where the learning takes place in the game and gamification is about using game elements to encourage learning

It really should be noted that they are not mutually exclusive, indeed GBL resources are a subset of gamified resources.

A game’s mechanics are the rules/procedures that a player follows and the way in which the game responds. Scoring and reward systems are the encouragement used to entice players to do a bit more or be a better player.

So to determine if a resource is a GBL resource simply check if the game mechanics include the content to be learned. (A GBL resource fully integrates the two, so the game is the content. A gamified resource uses game elements as a reward.)

We have produced and made various different resources for different customers over the years. Some of which are GBL resources and some resources that were not.

The GBL resources tend to have gameplay and controls that require students and teachers to learn how to play, whereas the gamified resources tend to be less engaging.

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