Since my school is on Spring Break right now, I’m not feeling particularly serious today. So, I thought I’d take a break from my rants about instructional design jargon and do something a bit more fun today. One thing I really love applying to online courses is gamification, or taking video game elements such as rewards and achievements and applying them to the learning experience. So without further ado, here are three of my favorite video games that inspired my passion for gamification!

3. The Magic School Bus

When I was a kid, I used to beg my mom to let me use our family’s desktop computer as soon as I got home from school. The Magic School Bus: Inside the Human Body was my go-to game for years. Though it looks pretty ancient now and seems a bit like a fever dream, I loved the interactivity in each scene of this game. You could click on any part of the screen and it would reward you with a sound, a new animation, a mini game, etc. This game ran with the principle that if something looks like it should do something when clicked on, it should do something when clicked on. Plus, I actually learned facts about the body that I still remember today!

2. Candy Crush

I’m pretty sure everyone has heard of the simple, yet mind-numbingly addictive mobile game Candy Crush. This game understood perfectly the importance of reward schedules. In some ways, the rewards were reminiscent of a slot machine, from the bright candy colors, to the suave sounds of “Divine” and “Tasty” after a particularly good run. Candy crush also did a great job of building up the sense of challenge as you progressed. In the beginning it almost seems too easy. Your confidence and sense of satisfaction grows and grows until suddenly, your hopes and dreams are crushed by a sad crying heart saying you’re out of lives. From the almost overwhelming amount of rewards as you played the level, to then preventing you from playing at all, kept you on the edge of your seat and always coming back for more.

Candy Crush screenshot with sad crying no lives heart

Heartbreak: A Short Story

3. Pokemon Go

There’s a reason why Pokemon Go holds the title as the most downloaded mobile game of all time. This app married the real world to the virtual one where wild creatures called Pokemon could appear at any moment and in any place around the globe. While Augmented Reality had been a technology many people had heard about, not many had experienced it for themselves before Pokemon Go was released. It made losers like me, who would rather spend the day inside online, actually go outside and explore parts of my neighborhood I probably wouldn’t have found if it weren’t for this game. I also made some friends and joined some local clubs with fellow Poke-Goers. Even though the popularity has died down, I still think of this game whenever I see someone standing around looking at their phone. While Pokemon Go was just a cute and fun game I could sink thousands of hours into, I only see this technology expanding even more into the eLearning industry.

Are there any other games that inspire you in your course designs? Let me know in the comments down below!

Thanks for reading, and see you next time!



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