Occasionally fad diets emerge that advocate for the complete elimination of carbohydrates or fats, only eating fats and protein, or consuming only raw foods. It turns out that none of these diets are all that healthy. The best diets are those that thoughtfully balance and moderate caloric intake among the different types of foods. More interesting is that every body is different and has slightly different nutritional needs. I find this so interesting in the context of both games and educational practices. In both of these other fields, their will occasionally be examples of “magic bullet” thinking that fails to consider that students/players are complex organisms that need different intakes and motivations in order to have a healthy experience.


I haven’t played the game No Man’s Sky, but have read several reviews and listened to several podcasts that discussed the game following its release. I apologize if I am mischaracterizing the game play, please let me know, but from what I understand the game is essentially an endless exploration of new planets. The player can travel between new planets and investigate the plants, animals, and terrain in a nearly endless journey of new discovery. The game was by all accounts an achievement in randomly generated world creation. The reviews, at least that I came across, were mixed. None doubted the achievement but nearly all were critical of certain elements. As I heard and read the reviews I was struck by how skewed the game was towards Exploration based game play. Much like the Atkins Diet which told dieters to eat a diet heavily favoring fat and protein, this game play seems to be heavily weighted towards the “Free Explorer” types. I have since heard that there have been updates which have added more frequent online player to player interactions giving more “Socializer” and “Philanthropist” type motivators.

I feel like we sometimes get similar debates in educational circles. This may be a bit of a Strawman argument which is not my intent but with some topics there does seem to be advocates of completely eliminating certain techniques or mechanics. As a History teacher this often comes up with lecture – that it should be banished to the scrapheaps, but in practice there is a time and place for short, well constructed lecturing. Over reliance on a single technique seems to be bad but moderation and a balanced approach can provide for a healthy structure.

Last week and this week we are discussing SAPS rewards. These are clearly external motivators. This is not an meant to advocate a classroom based entirely on external motivation but to consider what motivation mechanics are available and how to properly incorporate them into a well balanced structure. The ideal classroom will have a mixture of external and internal motivations as well as a mixture that will touch on the motives of all of the player types (I prefer thinking in terms of Andrzej Marczewski’s Hexad). So I hope that we can all join together and think of the best ways to incorporate Access and Status type motivators including both the benefits and drawbacks. Hope to see you all at camp this week!