Gaming in education: ‘We don’t need no stinking badges’

Educators and game designers say gamification is not about adding games to classes, but designing classes as games

gamingWashington, D.C.– When video game designer and writer Lee Sheldon designed a physical fitness course called “Skeleton Chase,” he didn’t ask any students to climb into a sewer drain.

Yet, one student, who saw it as the best means to attain his goal, did so, anyway. Sheldon showed a photograph of the student climbing into the tunnel to a small gathering of politicians, educators, and industry leaders Friday on Capitol Hill.

“If you get a student to do that,” he said, pointing to the photo, “you have engagement.”

Sheldon was one of a handful of game designers to speak about gaming in education as part of the launch of Excelsior College’s new Center for Game and Simulation-Based LearningThe new center is part of a larger shift on Excelsior’s part to establish itself as a research university. Earlier this year, the college opened its National Cybersecurity Institute.

Nearly 60 percent of Americans play video games, according to the Entertainment Software Association, with the average age of a gamer being 31. It’s not surprising then that a college like Excelsior, which primarily works with working adult students, would explore gaming in college education.

For the K-12 set, the ESA has also found that nearly 70 percent of parents of children who play video games believe that video games provide mental stimulation or education.

(Next page: Why Sheldon says digital badges are unnecessary)

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