In this TED Talk video entitled, 7 ways games reward the brain, Tom Chatfield talks about the characteristics of video games which have the “ power to motivate and compel us and transfix us like nothing else.”
Statistics show that the game industry was worth 10 billion dollars in 1990. That number has significantly increased to 50 billion dollars globally today. In addition, today people spend about 8 billion dollars buying virtual items that only exist inside video games.
Tom Chatfield’s discussion explores why this is occurring, and what we can learn about learning from games. Rewards, particularly the emotional rewards play a large part in the motivation to succeed in games. The simple psychology behind it is that people want to succeed, but they also derive pleasure from success. Games are made engaging by a combination of probability and rewards, and reward schedules are visible for players in order to hook them further into the game they are playing.
Tom Chatfield identifies the following 7 game strategies which can be used in education.
- Experience bars measuring progress are available for players to view.
- Multiple long and short term aims are set, allowing players to complete more than one action at a time.
- Rewards are given for effort, increasing dopamine production which is associated with reward seeking behaviour.
- Rapid, frequent, and clear feedback is provided as people need to be able to link consequences to actions.
- An element of uncertainty excites the brain.
- There are windows of enhanced attention throughout the game.
- In games, peers interact with and compete against each other, which increases the pleasure of gaming.
If we take a close look at the list above, we see some of the same characteristics in our classrooms. For example, we can compare experience bars to achievement charts posted in the classroom. Rewards are often given for effort in the classroom, in order to encourage continued participation and effort. Frequent and clear feedback is provided by educators in order to support students’ growth and learning. One of the things that excites students most is the peer to peer interaction of a collaborative learning environment.
However, as we move towards 21st century learning, we see that these strategies are not working for all of our students. Many of our students are enthralled by video games in ways which the classroom is rarely able to excite them.
Despite the classroom teachers’ use of various game-like strategies, why do video games compel so many of our students to an extent they feel is unmatched in the classroom?
This video originally appeared on TED and can be found by clicking here.
Tom Chatfield is an author and a game journalist. Click here to see his biography.