Developing a love for playing games: A clarification of why digital video games approach is not gamification

Amy Price*, Alex Beckey, Dave Collins

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Background: In recent years there has been a growing interest in potential pedagogical tools to be used in Physical Education (PE), and specifically in games. This has involved the exploration of both Gamification and Digital Video Games Approach (DVGA). Both are viable pedagogical tools for any teacher, and each have clearly different intentions for impacting student learning. Unfortunately, and despite several distinctions, they have been misinterpreted.
Purposes: The first purpose of the study is to offer a clarification of how these tools have emerged in PE and their underpinning mechanisms. This clarification explains their conceptual differences and similarities, with pedagogical implications. The second purpose is to highlight how understanding of this clarification can develop teachers’ Pedagogical Content Knowledge (PCK) and support more optimal usage and better impact positive student outcomes in PE.
Key Arguments: PE teachers are responsible for delivering high quality teaching and learning experiences which are informed by well-reasoned decisions of which blend of pedagogical tools to use, when and why. Unless a clarification is provided concerning Gamification and DVGA, these tools will continue to be used sub optimally. In short, we clarify that Gamification is underpinned by increasing motivation in the short term, through improving the attention and engagement of students. In contrast, the underpinning of DVGA is metacognition, and this tool seeks to deepen student understanding; a distinct (we suggest) longer term agenda.
Discussion: There is ongoing debate concerning the importance of a meaningful PE curriculum and how to engage students through games using a range of pedagogical tools. Gamification and DVGA are tools which share some commonalities (such as choice, challenge and feedback), but they also have distinct differences (such as planning, assessment and progressions, differentiation and the teacher’s role).
Conclusions: By improving teachers’ PCK about the purpose and underpinning mechanisms of Gamification and DVGA, they will be better equipped to decipher which pedagogical tool to use, when and why. As a result, teaching is more likely to deliver optimal impact for students to increase potential for developing a love for playing games.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPhysical Education and Sport Pedagogy
Early online date25 Sept 2022
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 25 Sept 2022

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • engagement
  • metacognition
  • motivation
  • physical education
  • teaching


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