Gamification: Getting children to spend more time learning

By combining learning with gamification, we have increased the amount of time a child spends learning by 300%

At a company making educational games, finding ways to get children to learn more is part of the spirit of our company. And one of our tasks is to find new ways to make children motivated. If a child is very motivated and is having fun, it is more likely that the child learns something.

How could we do this?
In our English learning game Mingoville English, we had a traditional word seach game.
word-search1This game is a classic in language education, as it teaches children how to recognize foreign word amidst a grid of random letters, improving their word recognition skills. Our task was to increase the number of words the children recognize, by playing the game. The more time the children spend playing, the more words they are likely to recognize.

By adding these four elements, we managed to do it:

  • Points
  • Time limit
  • Levels
  • Lives

Points
One incentative is by giving out points. The faster a child manages to find a word, the more points is awarded. Besides giving the child the instant gratification of being awarded by doing well, the points also let the child compete with itself and others.

Time limit
The time limit pressures the child to perform, basically. The child will try to find as many words as possible, before the time finally run out. The time limit also ties in with the next element.

Levels
For every four words the child finds, the game becomes a little harder. The time the child has available grows shorter. During the first level, the child has 30 seconds per word, but this steadily decreases. In the end, the child only has a few seconds to find each word.

Lives
In the beginning of each game, the child starts with three lives. Every time the child fails to find a word within the time limit, they lose a life. Once all three lives has been spent, the game is over.
birdwordThe addition of these four elements has transformed the basic word search into a addictive game. Even parents playing the game are having fun, as the level progression, time pressure and constant battle for the high score makes for an enjoyable experience for all ages.

It is important to keep in mind that our goal with the game hasn’t changed. To train children in recognizing English words, giving them a better knowledge of the language. Nothing about the learning process has been compromised. However, by gamifying the exercise, we’ve been able to make it more approachable and make children spend up to 300% more time doing the exercise.
And by spending more time playing, the child spends more time learning. And that is the whole point of our vision.