Gamification engages those who need it most

How to Engage the Students Who Need It Most: Gamification
Chris Aviles
Dec 20, 2014

Gamification is about increasing motivation and engagement.
Once you have a kid’s attention, it is still up to the teacher to deliver a solid, meaningful lesson.

Your best, brightest student may enjoy learning in a gamified class, but they don’t need it. Those students will be successful no matter what system they’re in.



Equation to predict happiness

Equation to predict happiness
5 August 2014

The model was then tested on 18,420 participants in the game ‘What makes me happy?’ in a smartphone app developed at UCL called ‘The Great Brain Experiment’ (
Scientists were surprised to find that the same equation could be used to predict how happy subjects would be while they played the smartphone game, even though subjects could win only points and not money.

how important expectations are in determining happiness. In real-world situations, the rewards associated with life decisions such as starting a new job or getting married are often not realized for a long time, and our results suggest expectations related to these decisions, good and bad, have a big effect on happiness.

It is often said that you will be happier if your expectations are lower.
We find that there is some truth to this: lower expectations make it more likely that an outcome will exceed those expectations and have a positive impact on happiness.
However, expectations also affect happiness even before we learn the outcome of a decision.
If you have plans to meet a friend at your favorite restaurant, those positive expectations may increase your happiness as soon as you make the plan.

original paper:
A computational and neural model of momentary subjective well-being
PNAS August 19, 2014   vol. 111  no. 33  12252-12257
Robb B. Rutledgea,Nikolina Skandalia, Peter Dayanc, and Raymond J. Dolan
A common question in the social science of well-being asks, “How happy do you feel on a scale of 0 to 10?” Responses are often related to life circumstances, including wealth. By asking people about their feelings as they go about their lives, ongoing happiness and life events have been linked, but the neural mechanisms underlying this relationship are unknown. To investigate it, we presented subjects with a decision-making task involving monetary gains and losses and repeatedly asked them to report their momentary happiness. We built a computational model in which happiness reports were construed as an emotional reactivity to recent rewards and expectations. Using functional MRI, we demonstrated that neural signals during task events account for changes in happiness.


Crowdsourcing for Cognitive Science

Crowdsourcing for Cognitive Science – The Utility of Smartphones.
Brown HR, Zeidman P, Smittenaar P, Adams RA, McNab F, et al.
PLoS ONE (2014), 9(7): e100662.

We developed an app named ‘The Great Brain Experiment’ for smartphones that enabled participants to perform four standard experimental paradigms presented in the guise of short games.

a sixteen-fold increase in the rate of data collection over a previous attempt at smartphone data collection. We speculate this increase might potentially be due to the ‘gamification’ of the experimental paradigms and efforts to package the app in a stylish, engaging format.

capturing of attention through social media, which was enabled by making the app both attractive and presenting it as a citizen science project

Citizen science projects have harnessed the goodwill of internet users to undertake complex data analysis, such as classifying the shapes of galaxies [20], finding optimal protein folding configurations [21], tracking neurons through the retina [22] and deciphering archived manuscripts [23]. Other authors have used Mechanical Turk [24], a service which allows crowdsourcing of short computer-based tasks, to generate human psychological and psychophysical data.

What experiments can be translated to smartphone games?
All four of the experiments we chose had to carefully compromise between obtaining good experimental data and providing an enjoyable user experience.

Limitations of smartphone experiments:
The development of an app is substantially more technically specialised than producing a similar experiment in dedicated psychophysics software, meaning the process likely needs to be outsourced, increasing development time

The Great Brain Experiment

The Great Brain Experiment

Funded by Wellcome Trust and developed by Wellcome Trust Centre for Neuroimaging at University College London in conjunction with White Bat Games, this game has a higher purpose than just smashing fruit or playing Simon (a Generation-X reference). Essentially, the folks in white coats have created games to crowdsource behavior and data. I’m not exactly sure how all the numbers add up, but Brain Experiment is perilously addictive, easy and intuitive.


Why Adults Need Playtime

Play Doesn’t End With Childhood: Why Adults Need Recess Too
by Sami Yenigun
August 06, 2014

More and more research suggests that healthy playtime leads to healthy adulthood.

Childhood play is essential for brain development.
As we’ve reported this week, time on the playground may be more important than time in the classroom.

But playtime doesn’t end when we grow up. Adults need recess too.

The question is, why? To answer this question, Dr. Stuart Brown says we need to clearly define what play is. He’s head of a nonprofit called the National Institute for Play.

“Play is something done for its own sake,” he explains. “It’s voluntary, it’s pleasurable, it offers a sense of engagement, it takes you out of time. And the act itself is more important than the outcome.”

So, let’s take gambling, for instance. A poker player who’s enjoying a competitive card game? That’s play, says Brown. A gambling addict whose only goal is to hit the jackpot? Not play.

Brown says that children have a lot to learn from what he calls this “state of being,” including empathy, how to communicate with others, and how to roll with the punches.

“Those kinds of resilient learning processes [are] different than what occurs in adult play,” he says. “But the harmonics of this occur in adulthood as well.”

For Stroke Victims, Jintronix Software …

For Stroke Victims, Jintronix Software Turns Rehab Into a Game
Bloomberg Businessweek. May 08, 2014

the department of physical and rehabilitation medicine at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle.
Bunnell’s hospital is among the first in the U.S. to test Jintronix, a subscription-based set of PC games and exercises designed to stimulate recovery using Microsoft’s (MSFT) Kinect, a motion-sensing camera created for use with the company’s Xbox game consoles. The Kinect’s motion tracker allows players to interact with what they see on the screen.

Are Multiplayer Games the Future of Education?

Are Multiplayer Games the Future of Education?
A new classroom approach tries to bring more competition into the classroom.
Melanie Plenda
Jul 11 2014

This intricate Maltese Falcon­-like story will unfold each day, over the course of semester, as a multiplayer game at Renssalear Polytechnic Institute in New York. It is being  designed as a language-learning exercise by Lee Sheldon, an associate professor in the college’s Games and Simulations Arts and Sciences Program. “Using games and storytelling to teach­—it’s not that radical of a concept,” says Sheldon. “It makes them more interested in what’s going on.”

Sheldon is a pioneer in gamification

Based on his own success, Sheldon went on to write the book The Multiplayer Classroom: Designing Coursework as a Game.

The reason it works, Lee explains, is that games themselves actively engage players cognitively, emotionally, and socially to keep them motivated to play.
In their paper Gamification in Education: What, How, Why Bother?, Lee and his coauthor, Jessica Hammer, point out that games offer a rich and complex environment that demands experimentation, problem-solving and quick thinking.

some students just aren’t that into it either.
Juho Hamari and Jonna Koivisto of the University of Tampere in Finland have studied gamification extensively, and they’ve found that some students simply dislike competition.
“Similarly,” Hamari notes, “all students might not appreciate narratives and, for example, role-playing type of interactions.”

Once students enter the real world, bosses are generally short on hugs.
So how well does a gamified classroom actually prepare students for life after graduation?


Gamification in Education: What, How, Why Bother?

Emotional intelligence & flow among musicians

Emotional intelligence predicts individual differences in proneness for flow among musicians: the role of control and distributed attention
Front. Psychol., 17 June 2014
Narayanan Srinivasan and Bruno Gingras

This is a commentary on:
Getting into the musical zone: trait emotional intelligence and amount of practice predict flow in pianists
by Marin, M. M., and Bhattacharya, J. (2013). Front. Psychol. 4:853.

Motivational structure

Motivational structure. Relationships with substance use and processes of change.
Addict Behav. 2002 Nov-Dec;27(6):925-40.
Cox WM

The motivational model stresses that substance misuse occurs in the context of the satisfactions and frustrations that people derive from incentives in other areas of their lives.
Therefore, it is important to assess substance users’ motivational structure, that is, the patterns by which they strive for these incentives.

This article presents a technique for assessing motivational structure, through which people’s motivation to use substances can better be understood. Results of studies using the assessment suggest the following:
(a) Unless university students with alcohol-related problems have adaptive motivational structures, they are less able to control their drinking.
(b) Alcohol abusers’ motivational structure leads them to experience less life satisfaction than does university students’ motivational structure. (c) In treatment, substance abusers with more adaptive motivation show less problem denial and more motivation for change than those with a more maladaptive pattern.
(d) Alcohol abusers with healthier motivational structures show better immediate responses to treatment and have better long-term outcomes than those with less healthy patterns.
(e) Systematic Motivational Counseling (SMC) improves motivational structure and reduces substance use.
These results support the motivational model.

“motivational structure” concept is used by:
University of Pennsylvania