A common misconception that we hear a lot is the idea that “games” and “gamification” are the same entity. However, this is not the case. Although they do overlap in some similarities, the differences are significant.
“Perhaps the best way to think about games in education is not to automatically call everything that looks like fun a “learning game.” Lumping all digital game approaches together makes no more sense than a toddler’s inclination to call every four-legged animal a ‘doggie.’”
“Game interest is definitely on the upswing in K-12 and higher education. It seems almost cyclical: every several years, almost in sync with the acceptance of new technologies (such as multimedia CD-ROM, then online, then mobile), there’s a surge of activity with games in education.”
“But everything game-like is not a game. And while game purists may wince at this simplification, it helps to consider games in education in terms of gamification, simulation and (simply) games. The three approaches aren’t always exclusive – they’re more of a continuum, or a Venn diagram’s overlapping circles – but they are notably different.”
Gamification is the current bright-shiny of the three terms – and, as a result, is the most used and frequently misused. But the cleanest definition is straightforward: gamification is adding game elements and mechanics to things that aren’t designed to be games.”
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