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The Application of Game Mechanics to a VLE Steven Urmston York University - September 2009

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Rationale VLEs do not always engage students (or staff). [Hramiak 2007] Often low levels of participation = less useful system Other systems which engage people? Both use Game Mechanics (varying quantities) [Kim 2007] - VLE? Games (Video) Web 2.0

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Game Mechanics Rule-based feedback loops of player interaction with the game world. [Cook 2006, Sicart 2008, me] Feedback Loops = Flow [McGinnis 2008] Rewards = Conditioning [Hopson 2001] Learning = Fun [Koster 2004] Action Rules Tokens Feedback Synthesis Goals Other Mechanics ++ x3 (+ Rewards)

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Outside of Games? Game Mechanics applied to functional software: Ebay Ratings, Facebook Friends, Amazon Reviews, VLE actions? Action Rules Tokens Feedback Synthesis Goal Other Mechanics Submit Quiz = 10 Points 100 Points = Trophy 10 Points 10 Pts (+ Rewards) Other actions get points? Useless Info Don't need points

No content

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Game Version is identical apart from: Game Rules & Rewards as Feedback Standard Actions = Game Mechanics Text

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Game Version is identical apart from: Game Rules & Rewards as Feedback Standard Actions = Game Mechanics

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Game Version is identical apart from: Game Rules & Rewards as Feedback Standard Actions = Game Mechanics

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Scoring Ranks Trophies Scoring system grades actions in value Rewards are the sugar in the loops

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Results Engagement Signiﬁcantly higher Logins and Page Views. Mann Whitney, p = < 0.01 and 0.015 Contributions Low, with no diff. in Forum Posts, Votes or Quizzes. But slightly higher overall. Chi Squared, p = 0.07 Levels of Participation improved? Student Experience more positive? Questionnaire No obvious difference, very positive for both versions Interviews Again, both groups very positive, however ...

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Results (2) Contributions Lots of Voting for debate posts, several participants voted for everything. Some participants were gaming the system (Votes) Interviews Mentioned by several interviewees, both instigators and voyeurs. Voting = low effort for high reward (points) More difﬁcult to motivate meaningful contributions e.g. (good) Forum Posts 1% Heavy Contributors 9% Intermittent 90% Lurkers [Nielsen 2006]

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Conclusions Game Mechanics have potential to engage, and with playtesting might improve contributions. But are (clearly) not a silver bullet to ﬁx VLEs

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Thanks for listening. Questions?

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References • Cook, D. (2006). “What are Game Mechanics”. http://lostgarden.com/2006_10_01_archive.html • Hramiak, A. (2007). “Evaluation and Analysis of Post Graduate Trainees’ Use of a Virtual Learning Environment”. • Kim, A. J. (2007). “Putting the Fun in Functional” (Presentation) (Various sources: see YouTube, Slideshare) • Koster, R. (2004). “A theory of fun for game design”. • McGinnis et al. (2008). “Enhancing E-Learning Engagement Using Design Patterns from Computer Games”. • Nielsen, J. (2006). “Participation Inequality: Encouraging More Users to Contribute”. http://www.useit.com/alertbox/participation_inequality.html • Sicart, M. (2008). “Deﬁning Game Mechanics”. http://gamestudies.org/0802/articles/sicart