CTL: Center for Teaching and Learning


Written by Angela Wartel


Gaming in society has become popular and mainstream. With the advent of online gaming, new generations are being introduced to increasingly sophisticated games. “The average young person today…will have spent 10,000 hours playing online games by the age of 21…the exact amount of time you will spend in school, from fifth grade to high school graduation, if you have perfect attendance” (McGonigal, 2010). Social media, another form of gaming, has tapped into the competitive drive of individuals that are aiming for more likes, views, and shares.

The love of gaming can be leveraged in the classroom in innovative ways through gamification. Gamification involves game mechanics applied to non-game situations. It is a means of engaging students’ competitive drives and applying it to learning. Gamification allows faculty to apply course materials in a manner that promotes learning and increases student engagement.

Benefits of Gamification

According to the Teaching, Learning, and Professional Development Center at Texas Tech, gaming in the classroom:

  • Involves students in active learning
  • Enlivens memorization
  • Encourages students to draw on analysis, synthesis, evaluation
  • Provides intrinsic rewards
  • Can foster a more positive attitude toward the classroom experience – leading to more attention, better attendance, and better participation
  • Can improve retention, decision-making skills, and comprehension
  • Encourages cooperation

Examples of Gamification 

Class simulations and Role-Play

PowerPoint/Clicker Games

Video Games

Depending on the discipline, there are video games that can help promote course concepts (Minecraft, Second Life, World of Warcraft).  Some of the benefits of video games is that they...

  • promote writing and literacy.
  • can improve mathematics.
  • teach about digital citizenship.
  • promote immersive learning.
  • encourage class collaboration and build community.
  • aid in problem-solving skills.
  • promote planning and vision.

Badges and Achievements

Badges and achievements are awards for students’ accomplishments or mastery of subjects.

  • Badges - Can be aligned to course goals
  • Achievements - Can be created in Blackboard to highlight performance or mastery (Achievements become highlighted once the student earns them)


Tips for Incorporating Games

Gaming can be a valuable method of engaging students. However, not every subject will work as a game. The Teaching, Learning, and Professional Development Center at Texas Tech offers the following tips for incorporating games into the classroom:

  • Define your objectives
  • Keep the games challenging, but not frustrating
  • Reward effort
  • Give frequent and detailed feedback
  • Game should have an element of uncertainty
  • Be sure to debrief afterward

Additional information

More games (from Angela's workshop) including icebreakers

Gamification ppt

Twelve Tips for Gamifying a Course (Campus Technology)

Gaming can make a Better World (TED talk)