Between Level Up and Game Over: A Systematic Literature Review of Gamification in Education
1.1. Gamification Elements
- Mechanics: actions and control mechanisms offered to players within the context of a game. For example, draw cards, gamble, trade, attack, compete, cooperate.
- Dynamics: behaviors to be performed while the mechanics are being executed. For example, socializing, bluffing, reflection, status, attention.
- Aesthetics: desirable emotional responses evoked in players when interacting with the game system. It is divided into sensation, fantasy, narrative, challenge, companionship, discovery, expression, and entertainment.
1.2. Why Use Gamification to Improve School Motivation and Academic Performance?
1.3. Research Questions and Objective
- RQ1:What is the distribution over time of the studies that examine educational gamification?
- RQ2:What is the educational level where gamification is most studied?
- RQ3:What have been the variables most analyzed in the selected studies?
- RQ4:What are the advantages of gamification in educational settings?
- RQ5:Which gamification elements are most used for educational purposes within the selected studies?
- Regarding the language, only studies that were in English or Spanish were accepted. Studies that were in other languages were excluded, even if the abstract was in English or Spanish.
- Regarding the format, only articles that came from specialized scientific journals were accepted. Articles published on nonspecialized web pages, blogs, or digital newspapers, as well as books, book chapters, or doctoral theses, among others, were excluded.
- Regarding the group of recipients of the intervention, only studies that focused primarily on students and/or teachers from formal education contexts were accepted. Studies focused on socio-educational programs in nonformal contexts, such as socio-community intervention, educational programs for public health, and so forth, were excluded.
- Regarding the type of research, only quasi-experimental or experimental studies were accepted. Theoretical and reflective articles were excluded.
- Regarding the study topic, only those studies that specifically used educational gamification were accepted. Studies related to other recreational strategies, such as serious games, game-based learning, educational video games, or educational escape rooms, among others, were excluded.
- To adequately address the research questions asked, experimental studies that did not specify their sample, resources, and/or gamification elements used were also excluded.
5. Limitations of the Present Study and Suggestions for Future Research
Institutional Review Board Statement
Informed Consent Statement
Data Availability Statement
Conflicts of Interest
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|Author-ship||Journal Position (H Index), Cites||N||Education Level||Subject||Research Design||Duration||Gamification Elements||Variables||Results||Outcomes|
|||Q2 (92), 4||292||School and high school||Physical education||Quasi-experimental with control group||20-week classroom-based PA intervention||Challenge, rewards, prize||Engagement Participation||X||Gamification can be a key strategy to encourage the participation of all students in physical activities.|
|||E (NA), 1||64||University||Foundations of the curriculum and physical education||Quasi-experimental without control group||1 semester||Narrative, challenges, achievements, playful activities, action rewards, points||Academic achievement|
Intrinsic motivationExtrinsic motivation
|X||The dynamics of gamification and continuous evaluation through the ICTs carried out have achieved high levels of participation and student participation, as well as high levels of motivation, both intrinsic and extrinsic.|
|||Q1 (86), 2||69||School||Sciences||Quasi-experimental with control group||6 weeks||Points, rewards, levels, and badges||Scientific competencies||X||Students who used the GAME model had better learning outcome of scientific competencies than those who learned via traditional teaching way. The GAME model can promote students’ learning engagement. Learning becomes learner-centered, which drives students to actively learn and control their own learning progress.|
|||E (1), 29||10||High school||Industrial technology||Qualitative research with ad hoc questionnaire||3 weeks||Ranking, prizes, points, levels, badges||Fun|
|X||Gamification is a way to promote work in the classroom, connecting with the interests of students and reinforcing the quality of learning through social interaction.|
|||Q1 (31), 4||290||School and high school||Physical education||Quasi-experimental without control group||15 weeks (2 sessions per week/50 min each)||Narrative, challenges goals, mastery, leaderboard, badges||Intrinsic motivation||X||Gamification, implemented on a long-term basis, has been found an instructional framework capable of increasing students’ motivation towards physical education.|
|||Q2 (26), 2||27||University||Master of Science (MSc) in Software Engineering for the Web||Quasi-experimental with control group||Two 5-hour lectures, delivered in two different weeks||Events, points, tasks, achievements, leaderboards, store inside the subject||Academic achievement||X||For MSc students, gamification is good to introduce basic topics. The social components of the gamified platform made it possible for students to improve inter-relationships and their overall grades earned, and to consider the learning process as more involving, interesting, and attractive.|
|||Q1 (17), 5||47||University||Advanced quantum mechanics course||Quasi-experimental with control group||7 weeks (multiple voluntary lessons of 10–20 minutes per week)||Points, badges, and leaderboard framework||Academic achievement||X||There is a notable correlation between gamified activity and the exam score. This demonstrates the value of gamification as a complement to traditional teaching.|
|||Q1 (164), 46||49||University||Online seminar of psychology||Experimental with control group||1 semester||Badges||Intrinsic motivation||X||Badges did not seem to be influential regarding students’ motivation, activity, and performance. Badges neither increased nor decreased students’ motivation and activity during the course. Badges did not influence grades or quiz results. Instead, they found a general trend that students became less intrinsically motivated over time.|
|||Q3 (13), 2||36||High school||Second language (English)||Quasi-experimental with control group||10 sessions||Narrative about famous TV games, points||Academic achievement||X||English vocabulary learning process has improved significantly.|
|||Q1 (12), 1||31||High school||Ethical education||Quasi-experimental with control group||1 session, 50 minutes||Narrative, game design, roles, points||Engagement||X||Gamification could be an effective way to create the concept of professional commitment in adolescents.|
|||66/226 – Dialnet (NA), 1||48||School||Physical education||Qualitative research with control group||14 sessions, 50 minutes||Narrative, ranking, badges, rewards||Academic achievement||X||Gamification promotes academic performance to learn healthy lifestyle habits.|
|||Q1 (36), 35||36||University||Matter and Energy subject in Primary Education Degree||Quasi-experimental without control group||1 semester||Star Wars aesthetic, challenge, rewards, collaborative tasks, points||Academic achievementParticipation||X||A correlation between the participation level in the game and the academic marks that the students obtain is evident, and those who get involved in the game usually achieved better academic performance.|
|||Q2 (43), 13||93||University||Psychology courses||Quasi-experimental with control group||1 academic year, 3 times a week for 50 minutes||Play, narrative, feedback, choice, points, levels, prize||Motivation||X||X||Implementation of some meaningful gamification elements, students report higher enjoyment, engagement, and motivation in learning compared to traditional courses.|
|||Q3 (19), 30||94||School||Maths||Quasi-experimental with control group||6 weeks (120 minutes per week)||Competition, rewards, collecting points, rewards, badges, and leaderboard||Academic achievement Cognitive load||X||Gamification can increase both cognitive load and achievement levels, and students generally have positive thoughts regarding gamification strategies.|
|MDA||Construct Analyzed||Frequency||% Relative||% Total|
|Gamified Elements||Element Analyzed||Frequency||% Relative||% Total|
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Manzano-León, A.; Camacho-Lazarraga, P.; Guerrero, M.A.; Guerrero-Puerta, L.; Aguilar-Parra, J.M.; Trigueros, R.; Alias, A. Between Level Up and Game Over: A Systematic Literature Review of Gamification in Education. Sustainability 2021, 13, 2247. https://doi.org/10.3390/su13042247
Manzano-León A, Camacho-Lazarraga P, Guerrero MA, Guerrero-Puerta L, Aguilar-Parra JM, Trigueros R, Alias A. Between Level Up and Game Over: A Systematic Literature Review of Gamification in Education. Sustainability. 2021; 13(4):2247. https://doi.org/10.3390/su13042247Chicago/Turabian Style
Manzano-León, Ana, Pablo Camacho-Lazarraga, Miguel A. Guerrero, Laura Guerrero-Puerta, José M. Aguilar-Parra, Rubén Trigueros, and Antonio Alias. 2021. "Between Level Up and Game Over: A Systematic Literature Review of Gamification in Education" Sustainability 13, no. 4: 2247. https://doi.org/10.3390/su13042247