7 Ways Games Reward the Brain

On August 1, I began a 3-week class through Boise State University entitled 3D GameLab.
This online experience is designed to provide an opportunity where an educator/learner can become involved in a game-based learning situation first-hand. It’s a personal journey through the gaming theory that is purveyed by Gee and Prensky.

It’s VERY personal and I like it.

The explanation of how this works is rather complicated. It is complex enough to warrant it’s own independent posting at another time. The main reason that I am writing this post is because it is part of the quest that I am presently trying to complete. How’s THAT for motivation?

We were asked to watch the Ted Talk presentation, 7 Ways Games Reward the Brain by Tom Chatfield, and then reflect upon something that he said.  This talk is about how the complexities of gaming can be applied to motivate people in learning. Chatfield describes (both psychologically and biologically) how game-like challenges engage the human soul.

The interesting part of his analysis is how he describes the process that game designers use to capture your attention and engage your soul. It’s not as much about the actual activity that you are completing (he suggested opening virtual boxes) as it is about the reward schedule that the player experiences in the process. Its about “the rate, the nature, the type, the intensity of the rewards in games that keep players engaged over long periods of time.”

When I was trying to find another way to describe this, the term, relevance, popped into mind. But this wasn’t the proper word. I just finished saying that the activity wasn’t as important as the form of interaction that the learner has with the activity. That interaction is personal. The most successful interaction is one that has been personal-ized to meet the needs, wants and desires of the learner. It has been customized to respond often enough with rewards that are interesting enough to maintain grasp of the learner’s soul.

As Chatfield explains, the onset of computing has provided a venue through which feedback can be individualized to make such activities infinitely interesting. This is nothing new. I remember first reading about it in 1982 in an article written by R. F. Bowman, A Pac-Man Theory of Motivation.

Watch the video and consider the 7 ways that games reward our brains:

  1. Use Experience Bars to Measure Progress
  2. Provide Multiple Long/Short-Term Aims
  3. Reward Effort – Don’t Punish Mistakes
  4. Link Actions to Consequences
  5. Include an Element of Uncertainty
  6. Include Peer Collaboration
  7. Engage Players by Doling Out the Rewards at the Personalized Intervals.

Which one do you feel is the most powerful strategy for your learning?

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*This posting was prompted by an assignment from 3D GameLab.

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    0 thoughts on “7 Ways Games Reward the Brain

    1. Engaging post, Leigh! I thought about your question in terms of my work life. I'm definitely driven by #4, but also want #7 to kick in every now and then to know I'm not only being appreciated, but I'm being compensated for it.

      Thanks for our conversation tonight. I had several new thoughts as a result, and I'll share those in my Day 2 GameLab wrap-up post in my own blog. I greatly appreciate the opportunity to learn with you.

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