Game Mechanics

Victor Manrique offers 35 game mechanics in A Simple and Easy to Use Toolkit for Gamification Design, organized by steps in the design process. The ones that follow are primarily based on his suggestions, but organized by classroom use.

The game mechanics most likely to be used by teachers are:
  • Tutorial – learning process to develop the player's skills; scaffolding falls into this category
  • Party/Team – we usually think of it as group work
  • Player vs. player – competition opportunity
  • Fixed or variable rewards – given if the player meets a certain condition; some teachers use stars
  • Experience points – giving numerical value for actions. We call them grades. We tend not to give points to a group or for routine activities, but we could.
  • Game constraints – rules for the system; classroom routines, requirements, and penalties are here
Other game mechanics that we can and should try to include:
  • Levels – gaining more points leads to more or different rewards. If we changed grading so that learners started from zero points and added more, we would be doing something like this. A very interesting idea!
  • Badges – used as part of a reward system, but they look different for different achievements
  • Social area – having a time and place to interact with others; this can be part of Chat systems – communication channels for social interaction
  • Progress display – progress is visual in some way. A chart of reading speed might be one example of this. It’s something that language teaching doesn’t always do well. Learners often don’t know where they are in their move toward language acquisition.
  • Free lunch – rewards granted to all based on the achievements of some members of the group; this is used sporadically, but can help build group cohesion
  • Ambassador – expert who serves as a mentor to others
  • Not mentioned by Manrique, but part of other lists: Ownership – feeling that you control something. Having learners publish their work to a broader audience can give this sense, as can giving learners more autonomy in choosing topics and tasks in the classroom.
Project-based and task-based learning incorporate additional game mechanics:
  • Quest – a mission with concrete objectives; project- and task-based learning can use this. It’s another way of visualizing progress.
  • Epic challenge – the sense of accomplishing something big, usually for experts in a game. Language teachers can approach this by having learners do projects that go outside the classroom and that have a large external audience.
  • World – the game world; for teachers, a special "space" for learning
Worksheet about game mechanics and what they mean in teaching - to fill out for yourself

Last updated 24 March 2019 by D. Healey