Home Educational Games & Gamification Principles and Popular Structures for Gamification

Principles and Popular Structures for Gamification


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Gamification is a popular buzzword now. People across the globe are using this technique for various purposes – increasing sales, getting attention and so on.

It can be used in education and educational technologies as well.

Here are some helpful concepts and tips.

What is Gamification?

Gamification means using game elements on non-game contexts like marketing and businesses or education. It has been used for decades but has taken off recently as one of the favorite tools people use to get and retain attention.

The reason why this is so popular is because of the rewards and gratifications that exist within the games – this is also why games are so popular in the first place. Rewards could be anything – from a trophy to the sense of accomplishment. These rewards give us pleasure. This is precisely why gamification  can be successful when used properly. Essentially, the joy of winning overwhelms the pain of studying.

How Does Gamification Work?

It works by encouraging users to play and win. It takes advantage of our competitive natures and psychological disposition to play games. Used properly, it can increase student engagement, influence their behaviour  and so on.

Of course, there needs to be a reward of some sort, whether it’s points, grades, material rewards, achievements or something else.

It should also not be all about wording – calling something a challenge isn’t going to make it one. There needs to be an actual challenge, something that’s worth doing for the right prize.

The Main Principles of Gamification

Here are the main principles of gamification that you should include in your tech if you want it to work properly:

  • Reward

A reward is something you win and feel positive about. This means that the students need to be rewarded with points, gifts or badges for completing challenging tasks like answering a question, solving a problem, reading something and so on. Those points need to provide access to something exclusive and special in order to make the gaming element worth their while – points, awards, next level and so on.

  • Loss aversion

We are naturally inclined to avoid losing something. For instance, when you start playing Farmville, they give you a free farm that you can grow and improve. If you don’t play, your farm dies and withers. So, give people something right away that they can lose if they are not playing. For example, you can give them a certain amount of points at the start and they can lose them if they are not playing.

  • Status and reputation

Most people want to keep or advance their status and this is why leaderboards are a great idea. This adds to the competition and encourages people to take action. This can be especially effective among students, because no one wants to be the last one on the leaderboard.

  • Feedback

People like seeing their rewards accumulate and feedback on how they are doing. Include this as a way to provide instant gratification. For instance, if they answer the question correctly, you say ‘congratulations’ or give them points.

Popular structures

There are some structures and formulas that you can use for the reward system in order to make it fun and gratifying for the students. Here are some of them:

Tit for tat

This is not just a funny expression but a great way to provide your students with an excellent gamification experience. This, in fact, is the simplest form of providing rewards. Someone takes an action, you give them a reward. For example, someone answers the question correctly, you give them points or awards.

Points and badges

“Points and badges are commonly used in the education world by many teachers who understand this technique well. Points are useful because when users accumulate enough of them, they can get an exclusive reward or a grade, even a status. They get these points by completing actions,” says Rosalie Halliwell, a regular contributor to Draftbeyond and Writinity.

Badges are there to serve another purpose – to give the users a status. However, that’s not all they do. They should also be there to provide access to different tiers of perks. This encourages students to do more in order to get a better badge.

Progress bars

“If you want your students going through a series of steps without getting annoyed, a progress bar is a great tool. When people see an empty bar or a half-filled bar they have a need of filling it – it’s in our nature. This is precisely why this tool is so effective – even more so if you promise a reward at the end of the bar,” says Andy Rotchin, an author at Researchpapersuk.


Competitions skyrocketed in the past decade, whether they were on the social media or on websites. For instance, users can get a unique opportunity to compete for a free product if they sign up to the email list or if they complete a series of tasks on social media. The same thing can be applied to ed tech – you promise a reward to the person who gets the most points, creates the best project or does the best on an assignment. Random might work in the marketing world, but you want to stay away from this in education because students need to be rewarded based on their achievements, not luck.


Finding the right way to introduce gamification to your tech is a job that will take some time. However, if you are willing to get more engagement and help students do better, you should definitely make it the best you can. Hopefully, these tips will help you.




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