Using gameplay patterns to gamify learning experiences

Carlo Fabricatore, Ximena Lopez

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


Gamification refers to the use of gaming elements to enhance user experience and engagement in non-gaming systems. In this paper we report the design and implementation of two higher education courses in which ludic elements were used to enhance the quality of the learning experience. A game can be regarded as a system of organised gameplay activities, and a course can be regarded as a system of organised learning activities. Leveraging this analogy, analysing games can provide valuable insights to organise learning activities within a learning experience. We examined a sample of successful commercial games to identify patterns of organisation of gameplay activities that could be applied to a course design. Five patterns were identified: quest structure, strategic open-endedness, non-linear progression, orientation, and challenge-based reward. These patterns were then used to define the instructional design of the courses. As a result, courses were organised as systems of quests that could be tackled through different strategies and in a non-linear way. Students received frequent feedback and were rewarded according to the challenges chosen, based on mechanics common in quest-based games. The courses involved two lecturers and 70 students. Learning journals were used throughout the term to collect data regarding student perceptions on the clarity and usefulness of the gamified approach, level of motivation and engagement in the courses, and relevance of the activities proposed. Results show that students felt challenged by the activities proposed and motivated to complete them, despite considering most activities as difficult. Students adopted different cognitive and behavioural strategies to cope with the courses' demands. They had to define their own team project, defining the objectives, managing their times and coordinating task completion. The regular and frequent provision of feedback was highly appreciated. A sense of mastery was promoted and final achievement was positively impacted by the gamified strategy.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the European Conference on Games-based Learning
PublisherDechema e.V.
Number of pages8
ISBN (Electronic)9781910309551
Publication statusPublished - 2014


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