Many researchers consider Gamification as a powerful way to improve education. Many studies show improvements with respect to traditional methodologies. Several educational strategies have also been combined with Gamification with interesting results. Interest is growing and evidence suggest Gamification has a promising future. However, there is a barrier preventing many researchers from properly understanding Gamification principles. Gamification focuses of engaging trainees in learning with same intensity that games engage players on playing. But only some very well designed games achieve this level of engagement. Designing truly entertaining games is a difficult task with a great artistic component. Although some studies have tried to clarify how Game Design produces fun, there is no scientific consensus. Well established knowledge on Game Design resides in sets of rules of thumb and good practices, based on empirical experience. Game industry professionals acquire this experience through practice. Most educators and researchers often overlook the need for such experience to successfully design Gamification. And so, many research papers focus on single game-elements like points, present non-gaming activities like questionnaires, design non-engaging activities or fail to comprehend the underlying principles on why their designs do not yield expected results. This work presents a rubric for educators and researchers to start working in Gamification without previous experience in Game Design. This rubric decomposes the continuous space of Game Design into a set of ten discrete characteristics. It is aimed at diminishing the entry barrier and helping to acquire initial experience with Game Design fundamentals. The main proposed uses are twofold: to analyse existing games or gamified activities gaining a better understanding of their strengths and weaknesses and to help in the design or improvement of activities. Focus is on Game Design characteristics rather than game elements, similarly to professional game designers. The goal is to help gaining experience towards designing successful Gamification environments. Presented rubric is based on our previous design experience, compared and contrasted with literature, and empirically tested with some example games and gamified activities.
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