Friday, October 11, 2013

Digital Games for Empowerment and Inclusion

(Shared by Zac Fitz-Walter on Gamification Weekly, issue 20)

Digital Games for Empowerment and Inclusion (DGEI): The Potential of Digital Games for Empowerment and Social Inclusion of Groups at Risk of Social and Economic Exclusion: Evidence and Opportunity for Policy (European Comission - Joint Research Centre, Information Society Unit).
This report shows the potential of games to support those at risk of social and economic exclusion (Gamification Weekly). The report finds that "games-based approaches offer a particular opportunity to reach people at risk" in particular young people not in Employment, Education or Training (NEETs).

Gamification, as a new concept is referred. A definition is provided and the relation of gamification with serious games is addressed. Also, the report mentions the potential of using digital games in education.

Definition of Gamification (Glossary, page 205):

Applying game design elements to non-game activities, often with the goal of engaging people more in these activities.

The “Serious Game” and "Gamification" Industries (page 125)
However none of these terms has captured the imagination so much as the term ‘Gamification’, a sufficiently vague concept that has served to reinvigorating some of the serious game work, which may be too serious, Gamification focuses on how to exploit the gameplay elements of digital games in applications that are not digital games, but in practice implementations are frequently based in online services and mobile apps. In 2012, Gamification ideas, long used in weight-loss and child motivation, are attracting considerable interest from consultants and policy makers linked to ideas of 'nudging'. However it is not immediately clear whether those with the expertise to develop gamification are game designers or have any relationship with digital games development, and whether the tools of gamification can be considered part of 'serious games and gaming'. However discussion of gamification often end up addressing 'serious games', and proponents of ‘serious games’ are starting to appropriate the term to promote their own work. As Escribano (2012) suggests, conventional and low key use of game approaches has taken a technological turn (Escribano, 2012). One of the key popularisers of the idea through her games and publications is game designer Jane McGonigal, who explicitly developed the idea in developing an online tool with game-based techniques to promote personal empowerment, using the resilience approach. Clearly, the current trend of gamification is closely linked to the potential of ICTs, and the rich tools of digital gaming, and the popularity of the gamification idea focuses attention more clearly on the game like motivational elements of 'serious gaming' rather than the technological elements.

Education (page 128)
Use of digital games in the education sector is one of the oldest applications of games. From the supply side they can be developed as part of an educational publishing business, and more recently, the elearning industry. However, educational games, according to the report of the EC Engage project122, have always been "low budget, low tech, poor cousins of the computer game industry. Up until recently, very few commercial companies have provided good quality educational games. Historically, these games have been written by teachers and academics who wish to utilize the technology within there teaching, but usually do not have the skill, not the finance, to create a high quality product". This is changing with new expertise, tools andchanging business models for distribution. Games in education can be replacements for text books and other media, or tools for game-making and a more radical gamified approach to teaching and learning. Serious uptake in the formal education sector however, depends on significant innovation in practices of formal schooling, and in the procurement and certification systems for education products.

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