Sebastain Deterding’s presentation, titled Paideia as Paidia: From Game-Based Learning to a Life Well-Played, looks at the relationship between gamification and learning and suggests three propositions to make the relationship a better and more meaningful one.
The first is to move away from games as interventions in systems to games as interventions of systems. In order for this to happen, it can’t just be that a learning element is thrown into a game. Instead games have to be restructured so the activities support intrinsic activities. Deterding goes on to say that gamification, when it is coerced, is not very playful and that playfulness is a necessity because in play we learn self-regulation, social regulation, and creative skills. What makes something playful is that the play is autonomous meaning there is a willingness to play, a play space has to be a safe place, there has to be shared focus and attitude among players, there must be a sense of having fun while caring for other players (attunement), and there must be trust among the players.
The second proposition is that there should be a move away from designing game artifacts and a move towards the playful reframing of situations. First, the need for autonomy has to be supported, meaning players can’t be forced to participate and further must be able to decide how they participate. Second, a safe space has to be created in order to encourage experimentation. Third, it has to be metacommunicated that the particular activity is play. Fourth, you have to model play or start playing first. Finally toys and/or tools that are offered need to be capable of being played with in different ways, depending on the player. It should not be clearly laid out what can and can’t be done with the tools and toys.
The third proposition suggests moving away from instrumentalizing learning and play to building a society for paideia as paidia. Games shouldn’t be framed as an instrumental action, which means that games shouldn’t be about making players fit better into games that are already created. Paideia is the education of a human into its true and full form, which is needed to be autonomous in the Greek sense. The proper purpose of this education is to cultivate the virtue necessary to live a self-directed life. Paidia play is the proper place for this kind of education, understood as paideia, to take place because in play we learn the skills needed to live autonomously and thus paidia as paideia. This idea can also be flipped around to paideia as paidia because good education should be play- doing what you are good at, enjoying it, and doing it for its own sake.
Deterding also points out three confusions with respect to games. The first confusion is that games should be fun simply because they are games when in fact games are only fun if and when they are well designed. The second confusion is that games are so great because there are rewards, which Deterding points out is not true because what makes games fun is the challenge to the player and the player being able to master it. The final confusion is that in order to make learning fun you have to make it look playful. Good game design translates tasks/goals mechanics, rather than adding one to the other.