More on badges

I am delighted to see that I’m not the only one noticing that “gamification” of education, in the popular jargon, seems to be equated with rewards and badges.

Larry Ferlazzo points us to a thoughtful piece in the San Francisco Chronicle that offers a critique in this vein.

The most basic mistake is thinking that people play games for external rewards like points and badges, whereas in fact people play games because games are intrinsically fun or rewarding. The points are just a way of keeping score, an almost incidental add-on to the process. Sudoku has no points, for instance, but that hasn’t stopped millions from playing.

There’s some thoughtful discussion in the comments of Ferlazzo’s blog post.

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6 responses to “More on badges

  1. When I read the title of your post, I was thinking about Boy Scout merit badges. Everything old is new again.

  2. Yeah, Chris, I alluded to my ill-fated adventures in scouting on my first badges post. Perhaps it’s time to elaborate.

  3. Is it possible that some people play for the points and badges, and other people play for fun? I wonder if this is the source of our confusion as to what gamification is?

  4. It was a game before badges. Just substitute ‘points’ or ‘letter grades’ for ‘badges’

  5. Indeed, RyanRB. And let’s add “honor roll bumper stickers” shall we?

    I have to admit that I was never motivated by points or letter grades either. And I’ve burned many calories in my career trying to reorient student-teacher interactions away from points and letter grades (and towards learning, of all things!) Perhaps this is why the “gamification”=”badges” thing bums me out so much.

  6. @Christopher – I missed your first post. I was browsing my RSS reader and caught this post first.

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