The University of Arizona

Game mechanics and why they are employed: What we know about gamification so far

Katherine Lynn Bevins, Craig Dennis Howard


This literature review addresses the research surrounding gamification in online learning, focusing on the game mechanics studied in conjunction with the pedagogical aspirations they were employed to support. Findings include frequencies of game mechanics studied, showing a continuum from most studied, badges closely followed by leaderboards, to the least studied, storylines. Pedagogical aspirations fell into five thematic groups, where frequencies ranged from the most often targeted numerical learning outcomes, to the least often targeted, playfulness. A frequency continuum of tools used to gamify instructional designs is included. We conclude that the strategic selection of game mechanics is possible, but the research trajectory surrounding the implementation of gamified designs is haphazard. 


Gamification; Online Learning; Games for Learning

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