Levelling up through play


Can video games help us improve schools, neighbourhoods and cities? Gamification is a well documented design trend, but two recent stories highlight the benefits of how game mechanics affect an experience or help us understand it.

Newly released Block’hood poses the seemingly simple challenge of building a neighbourhood. By simulating the complexities of modern architecture, maker Jose Sanchez hopes players will better appreciate the challenges faced by contemporary cities. Sanchez, a practicing architect, believes games can be tools for solving global architecture problems. Combined with tools such as the newly launched Opportunity Project, citizens have more information than ever about the forces that shape their neighbourhoods.

Classcraft turns 10th grade into a fantasy RPG adventure, in which the teacher and all the pupils are characters in a persistent world. Created by physics teacher Shawn Young, the classroom game was inspired by a pupil’s offhand comment that they should “earn experience points in class”.

Jessica Stein tested the game on her own class and writes about her hugely successful experience, praising the real world effects that gaining XP, items and ability points has – but also noting the problems that could arise from the gamification of learning.

This originally appeared in Moving Brands Wednesday 20160309.

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