People have always been drawn to games. There is evidence of game-playing from ancient cultures. However, video games have brought gaming to a whole new level.
Gamification involves using strategies from gaming such as:
- Awards/points/virtual currency/badges
- progress bars
- user challenges
- leader boards and recognition
- trading of awards/points/currency
- bragging rights on social media
- using curiosity to help maintain engagement
Games are incredibly motivating. Isn't motivation what we need when trying to help people learn life skills? I have found this is especially important in mental health.
In a way, games use a lot of principles from OT. Activities in the games are graded to provide just right challenges. When this is optimized, the person experiences a state of flow, and can play for hours in "the zone".
If you follow my blog, you will know that I am a big fan of just right challenges when it comes to skills-teaching. Check out this post if you want to learn more: The "Just-Right Challenge".
Millions of people play video games such as World of Warcraft and Call of Duty. Just imagine if we could find a way to use gamification to harness that people-power for something good for society. The difficult part is finding a way to make it equally engaging.
My little guy automatically gamifies so many situations. Monkey bars have three different levels of how you can do them. He assigns points for doing each level. As his generation gets older, I think gamification is going to become a lot more common.
In some ways, this is not a new idea. We all know that the way to get kids excited about learning is to turn it into a game. I think what is relatively new is the idea of mimicking the format of video games.
What about the token economies that used to be at psychiatric institutions? Not that different really, yet token economies have been abandoned. How is gamification different from token economies? Perhaps it has to do with the personal control of participation, or perhaps with the spirit of fun.
What does this mean for teaching life skills? Maybe we need to think about how we can gamify them. I would think this would be especially effective for the younger generation who already think in terms of levels and points.
Maybe the the future of teaching daily living skills will involve "chore wars".