MA Thesis: Gamification in Higher Education

The  thesis can be downloaded at and it is the intention to make it available as a presentation soon.

From the Introduction:

“…Since the arrival of video games only a number of decades ago, the visual and intellectual language of gaming is quickly becoming an integral part of global culture, across all media (Chatfield, 2011). Games are played extensively by steadily increasing numbers of people throughout the world. Statistics from the National Gamers Survey indicate that in 2009, 83 % of the US population played games, almost half of these women; and 72 % of those above 50 played games. In the UK it was slightly less, 73 % of the population (Chatfield, 2011). Games are becoming universal; the divide between gamers and non-gamers is quickly crumbling and “soon we will all be gamers” (McGonigal, 2011, p. 6). The lessons games can teach – e.g. engagement and reward structures to visualization technologies – are being taken seriously across many sectors such as business, government, the arts and, the focus of this study, education (Chatfield, 2011).

The debate of games and learning takes place within a larger one on education. Two topics of this debate are: which skills and knowledge will future professionals need in our 21st century global knowledge economy? What are the models of learning and the educational environment (Davis, 2011) that will support the desired outcome of 21st century learning? Many of the positive qualities involved in the gaming experience, which include: engagement, commitment, collaboration, extreme effort, concentration, organization and fun are oftentimes lacking in students’ present day educational experience (Prensky, 2005).

There are a number of approaches to applying the lessons learned from games to the design of learning environments that are presently being explored and developed. Amongst them is the use of serious games, also known as game-based learning – GBL -, games specially crafted for an educational purpose. Another approach is to give non-game design students the opportunity to design and construct games as part of the curriculum. There are also “game–like motivational systems” that build on the motivational power of (video) games to structure courses, otherwise expressed as gamification in education (Lieberman, 2010a, para. 3). This last approach is the focus of this paper.”