Gamification in learning

Kishor Nikhare

What makes the students happy? Can the teaching and learning process be organized in such a way that the students are happy? If we spend some time observing our students, we will see that they are happiest while playing games. Games keep their mind active, alert, and fresh. They are more engaged and excited while playing. Gamification, or the use of game design techniques in non-game contexts (Werbach and Hunter, 2012), therefore can become an influential pedagogy for student engagement and happiness.

Gamification theory in education

Children learn best

  • When they are having fun

Having fun is good for us, because physiologically it helps balance out our stress and feel-good hormones. Learning requires a stress-free mind to think and imagine. Fun is just another word for learning.

  • When they have goals, targets, and achievements

Children learn best when they have a goal or aim, aim to achieve good marks, aim to get appreciation from teachers, parents, and peers.

  • When they actively engage in the teaching-learning process

Children learn best when they actively engage in the teaching-learning process rather than passively receive knowledge. That’s why the whole world has accepted the child-centric learning approach.

Principles of gamification

  • Empower students

Gamification empowers students. It activates their mind. All students are challenge seekers. They need optimal challenges to prove their worth. Therefore, every parent who is their first teacher and every teacher who is their second parent has a moral responsibility to encourage, enable, and empower their children to become what they are meant to be by providing them with sufficient time, ample opportunities, and create space to play, learn, and grow.

  • Promote perseverance

Gamification promotes perseverance in students. Students try to learn new skills to win the next time. It is like the fuel in the tank for further learning or achievement.

  • Build up social skills

Gamification promotes the development of social skills as children have to work with each other. Social skills are the skills we use to interact with each other, both verbally and non-verbally.

Produce self-directed Learners

Gamification helps create self-directed learning communities. Self-directed learning is a four-step process– assess readiness to learn, set learning goals, engage in the learning process, and evaluate own learning. Hence it supports the self-learning process.

  • Requires students to play with ideas

Gamification provides students an opportunity to think about possible ideas to win or achieve targets.

Some examples of gamification in learning

Clap and say game (mathematics): – With this game, the teacher can assess students’ understanding of prime and composite numbers.

The students have to stand in a circle. As the teacher calls out numbers, students have to clap for prime numbers and say the number aloud if it is a composite number. As 1 is neither prime nor composite, students should neither clap nor say the number. Instead, they just jump when that number is called out. Since 2 is a prime number, a student has to just clap, not say it. If they say 2 while clapping, they will be out of the game. Four is a composite number, hence a student has to just say 4 and not clap. If they do, they will be out of the game. The last two students that remain will be declared the winners.

Passing the parcel (geography)

This is a circle activity and it can be considered as a geography version of the hot potato. The teacher sticks coloured cut-outs of India maps on a ball. The students sit in a circle and pass the ball around to some music, which the teacher will stop and start. The student, who is holding the ball when the music stops, must identify the state under their left thumb and mention one important characteristic of the state.

Word chain (English)

The game is played by using the last letter of the previous word as the first letter of the next word. For example, if the first word is ‘attractive’, then the next word can be ‘eager’.


  • Deterding, S., Khaled, R., Nacke L.E. and Dixon, D. (2011). Gamification: Toward a Definition. In CHI 2011 Gamification Workshop Proceedings, Vancouver, 2011 (pp. 12- 15.).
  • Dicheva, D., Dichev, C., Agre, G., & Angelova, G. (2015). Gamification in education: A systematic mapping study. Educational Technology and Society, 18(3), 75– 88.
  • Fitriyati. 2010. The Effectiveness of Using “WordChain” Game to Increase Students’ Vocabulary at the Second Year of SLTPN 20 Pekanbaru. Unpublished thesis. Pekanbaru: State Islamic University SUSQA.
  • Hamari, J., Koivisto, J., & Sarsa, H. (2014). Does gamification work? – A literature review of empirical studies on gamification. In Proceedings of the Annual Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences (pp. 3025–3034).
  • Kapp, K. M. (2012). The Gamification of Learning and Instruction: Game-based Methods and Strategies for Training and Education. San Francisco, USA: Pfeiffer & Company.
  • Werbach, K., & Hunter, D. (2012b). The Gamification Toolkit Game Elements. In For the Win: How Game Thinking Can Revolutionize Your Business.

The author is a teacher at Reliance Foundation School, Mouda, Nagpur. He can be reached at

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