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Gamification Mistake #1: Fair Play

I titled this post Mistake #1, because I am certain that I will make many more mistakes while gamifying my class.

One thing I've been learning about is the aspect of "Fair Play," which basically just means making sure the game is fair for the players. This is quite intuitive: of course, we all want to play a game that is fair. If we have no chance of winning, if the game is way too easy, or if the opponent cannot be beat, we will give up. Obviously! But I'm a teacher, not a gamer, and I didn't really think about this very, very important aspect, when designing my STAAR Wars app.

I knew I wanted to divide each class period into two teams, but I hadn't thought much about how to make it fair. I let the students decide whether they wanted to be on the "Dark Side" or the "Rebel Forces." When the teams ended up uneven, I gave the disadvantaged side a multiplier.

I made this worksheet worth 5 points. So, for the disadvantaged team, I gave them a multiplier of x3, so their worksheet was worth 15 points. Even with this, the game was still unfair. One team could still earn more points than the other.

I thought I could sneak by without the kids noticing. 

But, THEY DID THE MATH!!! And they figured out, that it wasn't fair! As impressed as I was (my kids hate math), they were starting to lose motivation.

I thought we'd be able to work this out, since video games usually have some sort of "boss level" or reward that benefits one player more than another. What I didn't realize was that the game needed to start out fair.

Next week, I will introduce these multiplier cards, for any student to earn. We will start the class with some problems for students to answer on their dry-erase boards. Students who get 3-in-a-row will get the multiplier card. Hoping this will increase the motivation.


Gamification One of the newest buzzwords of education is GAMIFICATION. Put shortly, gamification means using game principles to engage and motivate students. Gamification is NOT putting a student in front of a computer all day, every day.

Grades vs. Experience Points Last week I had the opportunity to discuss gamification with a team of professors at Texas A&M University. As I presented my understanding of this concept, I came to an important realization on the negative impact of grades.

How (and Why) to Level Assignments One of the most important practices I keep is "leveling assignments." I do this with nearly every concept I teach.

So You Want to Gamify? Based on the popularity and interest of my last blog, Gamification, I decided to create a list of resources, for those brave enough to embark on this journey.