In recent years, the concept of gamification, defined as “the use of game design elements in non-game contexts” (Deterding et al. 2011, p. 9), has received increased attention and interest in academia and practice, with education being amongst the top fields of gamification research (Dichev and Dicheva, 2017; Faiella and Ricciardi, 2015; Hamari et al., 2014). The goal of gamification is to maximize enjoyment and engagement through capturing the interest of learners and inspiring them to continue learning (Kinglsey and Grabner-Hagen, 2015; Kapp, 2012). Gamification is on a steady rise; the gamification in education market is projected to grow from 450 million USD recorded in 2018, to 1,800 million USD by 2023, at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 32% from 2018 to 2023 (ReportLinker, 2019).
Research evidence has shown the benefits of gamification in improving learning. The gamification players appear to score 14% higher in skill-oriented tests, 11% higher in factual information and 9% higher in remembering rates, 79% of business personnel and scholars said gamification method of learning made them more productive (Elearning Industry, 2020). Freedom to experiment, freedom to fail as well as the opportunity to rehearse real-life scenarios and challenges in a safe environment are key advantages of game-based learning activities (Brull and Finlayson, 2016). At the same time, however, it is also worth noting that gamification is not a universally successful technique, and must be designed carefully so that it fits the objectives of learning programmes it is applied to. As it highlighted in the Oxford Analytica Report (2019), Gamification and the Future of Education, “gamification is designed to better engage students, but this engagement can be lost if the tasks demand too much from students, or require too much prior knowledge. Therefore, efforts to introduce gamification are most likely to succeed when gamifying the existing curriculum, rather than introducing an entirely new activity, which may be beyond the means of the students” (p.25). Moreover, as it is further stressed in the report, the novelty of gamification is likely to generate resistance from educators and administrators that express worries about introducing an untested approach into classrooms together with its potential social and financial implications upon implementation (p. 25). Altogether, these are important challenges that should not be overlooked in the process of incorporating gamification approaches into learning.