While spending some time up in gorgeous Whistler, B.C. I stumbled across a Jeep advertising campaign promoting its latest line of off-road vehicles. This promotion was one of many taking place during Crankworx, an annual freeride mountain bike festival that takes over Whistler mountain and village. With such a huge festival taking place, a company has to find ways of attracting the attention and time of consumers over the many other companies and businesses attempting to do the same. The folks at Jeep employed simple yet effective gamification to generate consumer interest and engage the crowds attending Crankworx.
Referencing some of the early research that I have found on the topic of gamification, this presents a great opportunity to connect theory to practice. What do some of these gaming concepts look like when implemented? What impact does gamification have on consumers? More importantly how can these gaming elements translate to the classroom? What are the benefits? Drawbacks?
Providing opportunities to be social (Muntean, 2011)
In their advertising campaign, the folks at Jeep had set up a variety of booths throughout Whistler village. They were easy to identify through their display of different Jeep vehicles that you could open up and explore. But perhaps the most compelling feature that attracted the public to these booths were the small crowds of people who were already actively participating in the activities and puzzles organized by the Jeep staff. Once 2 or 3 people gathered around the booth, it seemed to generate a ‘buzz’ and hence attract more participants. The activities themselves provided more opportunity to be social as participants could work collaboratively together or compete against each other.
Engaging participants by providing opportunities for problem solving (Kapp, 2012)
The type and nature of activities or challenges that participants needed to complete in order to receive a reward (see the next point) were straightforward yet presented an appropriate level of challenge for the player. Examples of activities included timed challenges where players had to complete a task such as stacking 5 lug nuts with only a pencil or recording a set number steps with a pedometer within one minute. Other challenges involved singing a song of their choice or completing a modified game of Jenga.
We quickly learned that there were different challenges offered at each Jeep booth around Whistler village and as a result, we could not help but check out each booth that we came across. By simply differentiating the activities and tasks offered at each booth, it almost became a game in itself to see how many of these booths you could find during your travels around Whistler.
Using leaderboards and reward systems to motivate participation (Byl, 2012)
Upon completing your task or winning your challenge, the Jeep staff would reward you with a prize. In the sites that I stumbled across, the prize was a nice and compact LED flashlight. A practical prize that seemed appropriate for the advertising campaign. Of course when friends and family caught wind of what I was able to earn at a Jeep booth, it only encouraged them to now keep their eyes open for these coveted Jeep displays. Admittedly, I had to prevent myself from getting completely swept up in this gamified advertising campaign and resist the urge to dedicate my afternoon in earning the most Jeep prizes within my group of friends and family. However, I experienced first hand the motivation and engagement generated through some simple gaming mechanisms.
It is the course content that will provide the important narrative behind the gamified learning experience (Deterding, 2011; Kapp, 2012)
It is important to contrast the purpose and intent behind an advertising campaign with those of a learning classroom. In this particular example, the folks at Jeep used gamification as a way to extend the scope of their advertising campaign. Specifically, Jeep used the opportunity to collect the email addresses of participants as they registered to participate in these booth challenges. Contrast that example with a classroom setting where teachers would employ gamification to help engage and motivate students to uncover new content and concepts in an interactive way.
I found it interesting that the tasks and challenges employed by the Jeep advertising booths did not provide games that would specifically aim to teach participants about the Jeep line up. While you have the attention and interest of hundreds (if not thousands) of participants why not teach them something about Jeep products and what separates them from the competition. Using distinguished parts and materials from Jeep vehicles rather than generic plastic pieces or props as game pieces would be one way of educating the public on the Jeep product.
In the end…
This gamified experience grabbed my attention and motivated my participation in this advertising campaign. The gaming mechanisms employed were relatively simple and provide the potential to introduce these mechanisms in the classroom. Concepts like rewards, tasks of appropriate challenge and opportunities to collaborate and communicate with other participants are not necessarily new to education (Kapp, 2012) however presenting these concepts in a way that best supports the learning goals and needs of the student will require careful planning and consideration from the teacher. In planning to educate teachers and students, if I am not clear on the intent behind my gamified classroom, I run the risk of merely entertaining rather than engaging and supporting the learner.
Byl, P. (2012, November 25). Can digital natives level-up in a gamified curriculum? Retrieved May 15, 2013, from Ascilite: http://www.ascilite2012.org/images/custom/de_byl,_penny_-_can_digital.pdf
Deterding, S. (2011, January 24). Meaningful play: Getting gamification right. Retrieved May 22, 2013, from Google Tech Talks: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ZGCPap7GkY
Kapp, K. M. (2012). The gamification of learning and instruction: Game-based methods and strategies for training and education. San Francisco, CA: Pfeiffer.
Muntean, C. I. (2011). Raising engagement in e-learning through gamification. The 6th International Conference on Virtual Learning 2011 (pp. 323-329). Bucharest: University of Bucharest.