Although reward structures have generally been successful in games, the types of rewards used in education typically impede the learning process. New forms of educational rewards, like badges and micro-credentials, have generally failed to take root because of deep-seated design constraints in educational systems; the fact that you are using a badge is far less important than how you use a badge. This book makes the case that games have used well-designed, meaningful, intrinsic reward structures, while educational systems have often used poorly-designed, meaningless, extrinsic reward structures. Without dissecting and addressing the reasons for this discrepancy, attempts to revolutionize educational reward systems in a game-based manner are doomed to failure.
The first half of the book is a dissection of rewards. What are different kinds of rewards, what dimensions should we care about, how have these dimensions been used throughout history, and throughout the game industry? The second half of the book is more much about application. How can we use rewards effectively, how do we design them meaningfully, and how can we apply ideas from the first half of the book to education?
Whether you come to this book as an educator, professor, parent, school administrator, designer, developer, researcher, or just someone curious about these issues, you can find something useful to guide your daily work and to help us all make better learning experiences for all our students.