A game that is just about to come out in the new year combines the ideas of Gamification, as expressed by Gabe Zichermann in his TED Talk, with augmented reality. While Zombies Run may not be a good educational tool itself, it does demonstrate tremendously well the motivation and engagement factor that game-like environments can bring. Games are looking to become integrated with our lives in ways we never expected even just a few years ago, and there are ways to cash in on the benefits of game-like environments in education. Games add a motivation and engagement factor that teachers dream of having in their classes, but not every concept can be taught through a game. That’s where exploring the principles of games come in.
Zombies Run is not a video game, at least not in a traditional sense. You aren’t on a couch, with a controller, trying to “level up” a digital character. It uses the concepts that make games compelling to turn the user into the character – allowing the individual to level themselves up through self-improvement rather than expend that energy on an digital avatar.
Take a look at what is planned for the 2012 release of the game:
If you’re thinking, “yeah, so? How will this help my class?”, you need to expand you vision to the bigger picture. You may not be trying get kids to run more (though obesity statistics suggest this might not be a bad idea either), but if you consider how we could translate the successful ideas of this game into more educational contexts the potential is endless.
Consider the possibilities:
- A grade 9 orientation app that detects where a student is in the building and helps them to locate supports and resources in the building.
- A living museum app that teaches kids about the heritage of their community by using GPS to alert them to the history of locations in their community.
- An eco game that encourages students to recycle by giving them points each time they use a receptacle.
- A social media game that encourages students to help each other with homework for digital rewards.
With so many possibilities, it seems almost criminal not to explore at least a few. Some ideas for the programming club anyone? 🙂