How to Get More Game in Your Class

The will to learn is an intrinsic motive, one that finds both its source and its reward in its own exercise. The will to learn becomes a “problem” only under specialized circumstances like those of a school, where a curriculum is set, students are confined, and a path fixed. The problems exist not so much in learning itself, but in the fact that what the school imposes often fails to enlist the natural energies that sustain spontaneous learning. (Jerome Bruner, 1966, p.127)

Presentation Type: One Hour Presentation; could also be offered as a workshop
Audience: Educators, Higher Ed and High School
Presenter(s): Katrin Becker


One of the key lessons we can learn from a gaming approach is that it should really be OK to get things wrong and to try again. That is after all how most of us actually learn. Traditional school doesn’t really foster this approach. How many assignments allow for re-submission? How often do we provide multiple (and alternative) ways to earn marks?

Do we give the impression that everyone essentially starts off with an ‘A’ and then they LOSE marks by screwing up? I think the very notion that something is OUT OF X implies that if you get less than X you have LOST something. Notice that videogames often don’t give a ‘perfect score’ or maximum value. They may set a minimum needed to go on but you always get to keep trying till to get there.

What if we adopt a gaming approach? Everyone starts off with nothing and then works their way through the course earning points for anything from attendance to the ultimate “Boss Battle” – conquering that really tricky project. What do we have to loose?