Use games to engage

Adding an element of gaming to your project can provide the incentives for young people to get engaged. Collecting points, completing challenges and competing with others can all spur young people on to get involved and stay involved. Games can also be used to share informal education messages.


  1. Digital technology supporting young people

    On behalf on the Nominet Trust, we have been working on to explore key messages on how digital technologies can support young people to engage socially and economically with their communities. You can find the latest blog posts from the project here. From an initial online crowd sourcing process and a roundtable workshop at the RSA in April 201210 key messages were drawn out.

    This storify seeks to curate key online content on one of these messages - using real-life examples, linking to research and providing insights for action. 

  2. Gamification explores how to harness games to motivate, engage and educate. There are many different elements to gamification, and many views on good and bad ways to go about it. 
  3. The power of points

  4. Getting points and badges for learning achievements is not new - think of the scouts and guides - but they have gone digital. Mozilla Open Badges has been exploring how badges could motivate learning.
  5. Mozilla Open Badges: Recognition for Learning and Results
  6. "Online games like Farmville: we collectively spend 70 million hours a week on. How can we get people so that instead of growing virtual fruit and veg, they are out there engaging with their communities...". The clip below discusses the potential of collecting points as a motivator for action.
  7. An introduction to Points for Good by Reason Digital
  8. @marukomuc told us about a Council of Europe/European Union co-financed project called Edgeryders that is trying to create networks among people who are active in ways not recognised through traditional policy-making mechanisms, and their site also makes use of social gaming ideas to motivate engagement. Members of the site get 'Rep' points for taking part in 'Missions', and for promoting the project on Twitter.
  9. Developing skills and learning through creating games

  10. In Finland, Verke, the National Centre for Online Youth Work, has also been exploring how getting young people involved in creating digital games can be a powerful informal education tool. As Jukka Orava at the centre explained to us Instead of spending money on public information campaigns, we have been looking at using funds to support many young people to co-create their own online and mobile games inspired by a public information message. Even if just a few of those games end up completed, when shared within young people’s peer networks, they can end up engaging with a lot of young people.” Some of the games games are also presented at the Assembly event which is the biggest computer related event in Finland.You can find some of the games young people have created, and interviews about using games to engage (in Finnish, English coming soon) on Verke's Hubi presence in the IRC Galleria social network site. 
  11. Games in formal education are also a hot topic:
  12. Social gaming

    Social networks are also spaces for serious social games - offering an accessible way for young people to explore important issues like careers plans. The Flip application was developed to live in Facebook and connect young people with positive peer feedback using familiar mechanisms of facebook quizzes and rating.  
  13. Games can break down complex tasks into smaller components. Sidekick studios have been exploring a project to "break down the careers of some young peoples’ role models into challenges they can attempt" in a Facebook application called 'GamePlan'.
  14. Critical perspectives

    Not everyone is convinced by gamification. Critics argue that it replaces intrinsic motivation with extrinsic motivations, and can undermine a focus on love of learning as learning. Talk of 'creating addiction' to support engagement can deter many from exploring gamification. Advocates of gamification argue that the issue is about getting the gaming element right....
  15. Meaningful Play: Getting Gamification Right
  16. Other links and resources