Purnima Valiathan

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Gamification – What’s in a Name?

Gamification: What's in a name?

It’s sacrilege, it seems. My son, who is pursuing his post graduation in Mathematics, gets angry when he hears the word gamification!!  It seems people use this term to imply “game theory”, which is a highly abstract mathematical concept.

As per Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy –  “Game theory is the study of the ways in which interacting choices of economic agents produce outcomes with respect to the preferences (or utilities) of those agents, where the outcomes in question might have been intended by none of the agents.” Whew!! Now that I know, I understand his anguish.

Game theory analyses strategic situations where one person’s strategy is dependent on the strategic choices of others. An example is Prisoner’s Dilemma. Gamification is using game play mechanics to get people more involved in an activity. It uses rewards to encourage particular behaviors. As my son says – “Smileys, badges and points does not a game-theory make.”

So all us learning designers who have been bit by the gamification bug, let’s use the right term, please.

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