What Is Gamification?
Gamification is a method of motivating and engaging learners by using elements of gaming in learning environments. Gamification can increase the efficiency and retention of curriculum material for learners of all levels, from children to industry professionals. Gamification fosters the natural human inclinations for competition, completion, and interaction, among others.
Some elements of games that may be used to motivate learners and facilitate learning include:
Progress mechanics (points/badges/leaderboards)
Opportunities for collaborative problem solving
Tiered learning with increasing challenges
Opportunities for mastery, leveling up, or certification
Some of the potential benefits of successful gamification initiatives include:
Giving students ownership of their learning
Opportunities for identity work through taking on the role of game characters
Freedom to fail and try again without negative repercussions
Integration of fun and learning
Opportunities for differentiated instruction
Making learning visible
Providing a manageable set of subtasks and tasks
Inspiring students to discover intrinsic motivators for learning
The development of gamified eLearning follows a similar pipeline to the development of computer games or movies, with a few significant differences. The scope of the project is an important factor, as is the method of implementing gamification. The following list summarizes the main phases of the gamification pipeline:
Gamification Main Phases
the method of implementing gamification is decided at this stage
a Game Design Document (GDD) is created. It describes the main idea of the game, target audience, references etc.
the artistic and technical planning is made about the gameplay mechanics, the look and feel of the game, game levels, pre-visualization
creating all the assets, both visual, audio, and programming, and integrating them into a working piece of software, as well as quality assurance and testing
maintenance including bug fixes and upgrades
The following departments exist to tackle the various aspects of game development. It is not uncommon for people working in one department to have roles in other departments as well.
This is the team that develops the game design document, and (often) the prototype. The GDD details the scope and functionality of the game, describes the story, the characters, and the overall experience of playing the game. Concept art is often included.
Concept art includes characters, vehicles, locations, enemies, items and equipment, and anything that will convey the style and experience of the game. Game art is a highly useful tool to successful pitching of the game, as it gives the viewer a better idea of the game experience.
The programming department is essential in building the game, from core functionality to the final polished product. Initially, the programming team may create a prototype, a minimum viable product which includes the core functionality without all the bells and whistles. This allows the team to refine game mechanics before proceeding to work on all the additional features. The minimum viable product will not have all the fancy graphics and animations, but it will still play. It is the skeleton of the game that gets fleshed out, yet it is an essential part to make sure the game has a solid foundation to be built on.
From the soundtrack to the voiceovers and special effects, audio creates a game experience that video alone could not achieve. People will often recognize a game purely by hearing a distinct sound, such as the ding of collecting coins in Super Mario Brothers. Audio can greatly enrich the game experience.
This department not only assures that the game meets the functionality requirements, but also manages alpha and beta testing phases and plays a vital role in forming and polishing the final version of the game. Sorting through the alpha and beta testing feedback, the Quality Assurance team determines how feature programming is prioritized and directs the progress of the debugging phase. Finally, the Quality Assurance ensures the successful porting to multiple platforms and deals with platform specific difficulties to ensure the optimal gaming experience across the board.
The project management team must juggle the limitations of time and budget with the capacities of the human resources and technology. In other words, project management makes sure things get done on time, on budget, and everyone is happy. This is easier said than done, a good project management team must have a thorough understanding of the capacities and limitations of all departments involved, as well as the costs and time requirements to complete each step along the project pipeline.
Marketing and Publishing
It’s not useful to have a great game if nobody will play it. That is where the Marketing and Publishing team comes in. Often, a considerable percentage of the project budget is spent solely on marketing and advertising, and with good reason. Experience shows that a successful marketing campaign is essential to the financial success of a game.
The following list contains the main milestones of the game development production flow. Some milestones are concurrent or not in specific order:
Pitch Document – The game concept, the look and feel, sketches, concept art.
Design Document – The game workings (gameplay, tools needed, procedures).
Prototyping – leads to the release of the pipeline document based on which the game will be made, with a simple working prototype of the game.
Pre-production – The entire process is more refined from the previous stages, leading to the very important “Game Design”, “Visual Design”, “Technical Design” documents. Pre-visualization materials, a game demo, and the necessary custom tools are done during this stage. The writing part is also done, creating the narrative and dialogues.
Production – The “actual making of the game”. This is the largest process, containing everything from programming to graphics, animation and sound.
Final concept art - may include physical 3D printed models of the main characters or other visual elements from the game.
Assets – Characters, props modeling and texturing/shading.
Scene creation -level geometry, level lights and actor placement.
Animations – game cinematography elements, dynamic effects.
UI elements creation
Audio elements – background music, voices, effects.
Programming – Scripts, AI, source code.
Bug testing – Alpha and Beta releases.
Game release – Master gold, user documents, localization services.
Post-release – Support, marketing activities, PR.
General considerations for a good workflow
Game development teams or companies can range from a few team members to teams of 40-60 people, with work being done internally and/or externally, though outsourcing, by people or companies of the same nationality and or from different countries or continents. Game production is also comprised of many tasks each of them having several iterations until all the decision makers are happy with the outcome and it gets the green light. For these reasons, and others, it is vital to base the creation process on thorough design documents, hierarchies, scheduling and communication tools, as well as asset management.
Our company is involved in creating games with the purpose of learning or reinforcing previously learned material. If you would like to find out more about how we use gamification in eLearning, please visit our website at:
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