Dodgy Definitions

A very popular EduTwitter personality said “a game has a goal. That’s it!”.

I include this just to show I have not just made a Strawman.

I don’t think that is true. If I wake up in the morning with the goal to mow the lawn getting out the lawnmower isn’t going in a quest. There has to be more to it than just goal setting.

This post is a continuation of my What is Fun? post. I have been thinking about the terms we use as gamified teachers. In that post I dove I to how the word fun has many meanings. I also mentioned that some terms are used synonymously but actually have very different meanings. In this case I would suggest that what this particular EduCeleb was describing is an activity more than a game. A game implies that there are rules and limitations in place, there are obstacles in place to meeting said goal; there should also be a chance at receiving feedback and some type of engagement mechanics. What this EduCeleb was suggesting was putting assignments in MineCraft but that doesn’t make school work a game – it’ is just a digital worksheet – which is ironic considering their stance in worksheets.

Maybe I am missing some important element of the post. I am sure I am missing something important in defining a game; they come in many shapes and sizes. This of course should lead us to ask why any if these definions matter. There is a danger in labeling anything as a game just to push the idea of gamification. This is how the gamification buzzword starts. This is how the shallow elements of gamification get pushed I to canned curriculum and pushed I to unready or unwilling classrooms. This is how Kahoot and Quizizz get overused and how Commercial games are used in unthinking ways as Edutainment. The easy elements of gamification get pushed and the more complex concept gets pushed aside. Then when this dodgy gamification fails the whole concept is thrown out.

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