Future Think

Games and Gamification of Education

The Horizon Report 2013 Higher Education Edition by the New Media Consortium’s (NMC)’s Horizon Project lists key technologies and their trends. As well as the impact of key emerging technologies on education and the likely time-line of when those new technologies enter into our mainstream lives. One key technology trend from the Horizon Report is the emerging of games and gamification. The target “Time-to-Adoption Horizon” for games and gamification of education is two to three years, a mid-term horizon, according to the report (NMC’s Horizon Project, 2013).

Educational games are on the horizon of a great awaking – meaning that games are poised to transcend the current genre of first person shooters, blasting asteroids or fighting monsters for gold and glory. Future game technology for higher education is being taught in game and emerging media programs in colleges and universities (Full Sail University, 2013). Research on game studies have proved that games provide secondary effects and awards (DeMaria, 2007). DeMaria believes, “video games can offer opportunities for positive collateral learning” (DeMaria, 2007).

Games have matured and the types of people playing games have morphed as well. The old demographic of a game player is no longer the 14 year old male spending hours in front of the console dedicating all of his free time in finding every little trick that programmers have hidden in the game (Juul, 2012). The casual gamer is the largest growing population of gamers, “played by men, women young and old” (Juul, 2012). Bringing a new error of design game developers have the ability to use games as an “intentional medium of positive change”, (DeMaria, 2007). Additionally, with the advancement of mobile technologies the variety of types of games for access to games, “anytime from anyplace”, has allowed traditional non-gamers to become gamers (NMC’s Horizon Project, 2013).

Gamification of education is the act of offering reward for completion of learning events. The idea of changing mindsets of the players and creating a reward system to redirect student’s efforts is nothing new. However, applying those concepts to games of learning can create a positive impact. DeMaria described these concepts in his book, Reset. He called this teach, model, simulate, and inspire and points out that this has been used in previous game design (DeMaria, 2007). We also this at work in the example in the NMC Horizon Report when using the Foursquare example of reward (NMC’s Horizon Project, 2013).


DeMaria, R. (2007). Reset: Changing the way we look at video games. Berrett-Koehler Publishers.

Full Sail University. (2013). Masters of science – mobile gaming. Retrieved from http://www.fullsail.edu/degrees/online/mobile-gaming-masters/courses/game-theory-and-innovative-game-design-MBG-550 on Nov 02 2013.

Juul, J. (2012). A casual revolution: Reinventing video games and their players. The MIT Press.

NMC’s Horizon Project. (2013, FEB 04). The nmc horizon report: 2013 higher education . Retrieved from http://he-2013.wiki.nmc.org/ on October 2013.

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