by Steve Nebel

Research should be gradually applied to other game mechanics and instructional principles. It is important to establish the respective conditions for success, potential and limitations.

The central element of our research [08] is the assumption that the application of GBL or gamification features must be considered from at least two perspectives. On the one hand, it is important to use thoroughly validated and empirically substantiated pedagogical principles or methods of teaching and learning with digital media. In the study presented, these were, for example, the Jigsaw Principle [09] and the Collective Working Memory Effect [10] [11]. On the other hand, these approaches must also find suitable equivalents in game design. Not only is social interaction a popular game mechanic [12],but also the Jigsaw approach (in the sense of distributed information and skills) is very popular in many games. It is important to look for similar approaches in the practice and to implement these where possible.

The number of high-quality studies on the topic of GBL is continuously increasing. Meta-analytical studies, which classify the effects found, already show promising indications of the criteria to be to be considered when using GBL. These insights are ideally gained in randomized and broad samples in order to generate findings that are as generalisable as possible. In the future, other questions will emerge though: What is the best way to learn with GBL, not only in principle but also on a case-by-case basis? Which design features are generally useful and which mechanics are suited for highly individual preferences and characteristics? Are there any conditions under which the effect is reversed from the proven effect (e.g. an aversion to certain mechanisms, lack of media competence)? Further, what role do socio-cultural conditions play? Educational or instructional psychology is increasingly addressing how digital learning materials can be adapted to the individual [13][14]. Consequently, the insights gained must also be applied in the field of GBL research.
This is an approach that is not yet being pursued vigorously enough [15]. At the same time, video games already have a long history of customisation. Not only user-driven (e.g. customisable graphical user interfaces), but also from a media perspective (e.g. adaptive difficulty levels) numerous examples can be identified. Combining this expertise with the knowledge of psychology could significantly develop GBL. Issues such as accessibility, inclusion and educational equity should be considered so that this development benefits all learners. Ultimately, in the course of the process described, adaptivity could establish itself as a further key advantage of this approach. To this end, teachers should pay attention to individual user characteristics and articulate the need for appropriate learning media.

GBL can…
be an exceptionally effective expansion of existing learning media. GBL can convey completely new knowledge structures.

GBL cannot…
be applied as a blanket solution for all learning content and is also not “automatically” more suitable than other learning media.