The Gamification of Fair Play

When we think of modern tools for learning we might reach for the usual, books, videos and Google. However, ‘gamification‘ has found a way to teach an entire course by offering challenges to collect items of knowledge that will lead the main hero to achieving his quest. The game Fair Play is a notable example in the world of gamification and it was created by the UW Madison Games+Learning+Society or GLS. The GLS examines the purpose and contribution of video games in education. They are a collective group of researchers, game developers, and government/industry leaders who investigate how games operate, transform learning, and affect society. Fair Play is a game that teaches a person how to live socially in another person’s life. Not quite as drastic an experiment as ‘Black Like Me‘ author John Howard Griffin’s but the concept is similar.

In the Mashable article “Is Gamification Just a Fad?”  there was an important quote about the use of game theory in education from Charles Duhigg’s, author of “The Power of Habit”. He said:“The key to gamification is turning extrinsic rewards to intrinsic rewards. Eating a cookie when you finish your homework might encourage your good behavior, but when you run out of cookies, you might find that you enjoyed finishing homework early and continue to do so regardless of cookies.”

So, I began the game, of which Fair Play provides easy instruction to downloading the game driver. You must to install the game drive first. After, reading the game objectives, game play and control instructions I was able to complete two chapters or levels. I did not want to stop but the storyline and the quest for materials, i.e., Jamal’s Curriculum Vitae, was so interesting that it made me curious about the next steps.  I wanted Jamal to win and to gain the support he needed to become a college professor. The system of rewards in this game are found in a deeper purpose than badges or coins. In the game of Fair Play your quest is to become a professor but you must first make it through the gauntlet of unfairness, socialization and responsibility in the land of academia and campus community social circles. Most students may not have experienced these moments of opportunity in their lives. This game reminds you recognize the gift of opportunity, and to not to take lightly gifts of opportunity even in the face of adversity. It also teaches you that if there is adversity then there is also opportunity.

The location software, Foursquare use to offer rewards or badges for being the king or queen of a particular location. By checking in a room or place before anyone else on a daily basis you become the leader and this bestows you with badges. Foursquare, is rethinking badges as a reward system. What is rewarding about Fair Play is the console set up that includes notes, tasks, almanac and other tools which help to remind or reference your experiences which helps your journey to progress.

Knowing how to win means knowing how to play the game in this academic world of graduate school.  In real life, many of the tools one might use in this game to resolve a dispute will not work.

You have to think your way through by learning bias concepts, socialization techniques and professional organization methods of your references. I have to say this game does cause you to recall memories of experiencing past bias and it also makes you question if you could have handled those past encounters better. Recall is apart of effective learning but so is responding appropriately to each situation we encounter. What we do with our knowledge separates us from others. The visual landscape of each scene is taken from the campus streets at the University of Wisconsin, in Madison, Wisconsin. For me, a graduate of UW, the game does trigger some moments where I experienced bias and also opportunity. Gamification is a learning method that would fit most learner target markets. However, I am not sure if target groups that represent the very old or very young would have enough patience or socialization skill development to play this game. This learning game is perfect for ages 9-12 and up. After playing Fair Play for two chapters,

I starting wishing I could add to the game a consequence for overt acts of bias and rewards for those of kindness. Navigating around social obstacles by avoiding the problems is a talent one needs to develop.  I had a hard time supporting the bias behaviors of perpetrators in the game, by allowing them to remain in a position of power.  I think I will complete the entire game before solidifying my judgment.  Maybe at the end of the game Jamal will take the place of the professor that rejected him or we will see in the game, the local newspaper release an article that shows acts of justice against previous bias.

Fair Play has inspired me, and I look forward to learning more about gamification in education.

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