The above is a link to an article about video games and why we are so interested in playing them and spending the time to try and win.
One of the first things it talked about was the agency that the player has in playing a certain game. I think of my math students and how many of them wish they could choose which way to solve a math problem. I have tried to encourage various ways of solving (providing that it follows the correct rules of math in general). Games allow players to win in many different ways. There is not just one way to win.
Progression is also talked about. The example of Mario Brothers really stuck to me, because I love the game and am fairly good at it. In the first few levels are you are asked to do is jump over things to make it on. Once that is mastered than a new skill is introduced and the process starts all over again, so by the time you are at World 8 trying to defeat Bowser to save the Princess you have to take all the skills and use them to win. If there was a way that students could move at their own speed to master math skills before they moved onto a different skill, I think more students would like math much more than now.
The last point that was brought up that really stands out to me is the disproportionate feedback that is given. I remember on Super Mario Brothers, the higher on the flagpole that you were the more fireworks you got. That meant more than the extra points. In a world where everything is at our fingertips. People want their feedback back just as quickly. When we submit a paper, we don’t like waiting the day or week or so that it takes for our teacher to grade it. We like knowing how we did the minute we hit submit. Games give us that and provide that instant feedback we are looking for.
The more and more I delve into gaming theory and game based learning the more and more I want to try and find ways to implement it into my own classrooms.