Games, Gamification, and eSports Intersections Within Digital and Online Learning

Games, Gamification, and eSports Intersections Within Digital and Online Learning

Virginia L. Dickenson
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-7300-6.ch007
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Games and gamification in the field of learning have become two featured topics of interest recently. While these two concepts have been around in different forms and fashion for decades, interest has reached a fever pitch in the last two decades. With the technological maturity of e-learning and the explosive popularity of online video games and eSports, exploring the application of these concepts is critically important, especially in the areas of intrinsic motivation, critical thinking, and problem-solving. Commercialization has resulted in the terms games and gamification being used interchangeably. The first step in moving forward with research into learning and the concepts of gaming and gamification is to distinguish these two terms, their impacts on learning, and to begin exploring appropriate and innovative applications in learning.
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The commercialization of gamification has resulted in the collapse of the terms gaming and gamification. The terms are often used interchangeably, however, they are quite distinct. Perhaps one of the causes of this collapse of the terms is the massive profits earned by video games; companies creating gamification models are trying to capitalize on the concept of learning games. Video games in general are complex software and hardware packages with expensive price tags. Gamification companies want to be able to work within these higher pricing models, however, it is difficult to justify high per person pricing when specifically selling to school districts, organizations, and other educational groups. Additionally, the cost of developing a high-quality video game is astronomically higher and the profit is based on sales to millions of users. The cost of many simpler gamification applications is a fraction of creating a video game, and the target audience is much smaller and is looking for a flat rate solution. Gamification companies want the video game profit margin for a fraction of the development cost. Collapsing the terminology represents the path to least resistance.

To begin to distinguish between games and gamification, it is necessary to examine simple definitions. According to Pappas:

Key Terms in this Chapter

Simulation and Sports Games: These games are designed for true immersion. In both cases, the game is designed as a simulation. But the simulations may vary. Some sandbox games are simulations as well. Examples of sports games include Madden NFL and NBA2k , both by EA Sports.

Role-Playing (RPG, ARPG, and More): These games encompass a variety of games in which the player creates or takes control of a character and may level up through experience points. RPGs have a common characteristic of having a central theme and a specific story. Examples of popular RPGs are Skyrim and Fallout 4 , both developed by Bethesda Game Studios.

Survival and Horror Games: These types of games are about survival, including resource collection and salvage. Horror is typically a survival game with a horror element like zombies, vampires, werewolves, or similar antagonists. Resident Evil (Capcom) is a great example of true survival-horror.

Gamification: An interface that is game-like and creates a frame in which content can be placed, but it is not content-specific.

Action-Adventure Games: These games thematic and story-based with battle opportunities connecting a continuing storyline. Examples are Assassin’s Creed (Ubisoft) and Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order (Respawn Entertainment).

Video Game: A digital game that may be played on a personal computer, console, or portable handheld device.

Shooters – First-Person Shooters (FPS) and Third-Party Shooters (TPS): These games are comprised of gameplay that is shooter based in some form or fashion. The difference between the two types of shooters is perspective; FPS is where the player is siting the gun and TPS is where the player is watching their avatar shoot. Today, many games will let the player change perspectives at will.

Multiplayer Online Battle Arena (MOBA): These are games where the player may be part of a team and have many RTS characteristics, however, the player only controls a single character. MOBA games are a growing part of eSports.

Game: An activity, form of play, or sport that has rules of engagement, measurable skills, and a clear goal

Platformer Games: These games involve running, climbing, and jumping to explore the game environment and gain levels. Donkey Kong and Super Mario Bros , both by Nintendo, were titular examples of the genre.

Puzzlers and Party Games: These games have some significant overlap, as they both emphasize game mechanics. These games will be thematic, most often with a story, or based on a traditional tabletop game. Party games are often multiplayer and double down on gameplay. Puzzlers are puzzle games. They can be as simpler as Minesweeper (Microsoft) or completely immersive, like Tomb Raider (Core Design) or Portal 2 (Valve).

Sandboxes: Sandboxes are games that may not have an overall objective to accomplish, but instead may have a series of tasks to accomplish or even represent more of an ongoing exploration – like a child playing in a sandbox. Games like The Sims (Maxis, Electronic Arts) and Minecraft (Mojang) are examples of sandboxes.

Real-Time Strategy (RTS): Games that occur when human players make up different teams and compete against each other simultaneously, as opposed to waiting for turns to play.

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