Game Theory applied to Online

I’ve been reviewing for a few weeks now, our online (Blackboard) courses at SNHU – and thinking of ways to make participation more meaningful. I hadn’t managed to get further than describing it as an Angry Birds model – where increasingly difficult screens become available and you spend longer and longer (being more engaged), as you progress and get “into it.”

I found that by editing a GC magazine article, I could illustrate where I think we should be looking for better engagement with course materials and content:

GC December 2010 – “Now that the social layer has been built, some people say, the next layer will be the game layer….
EDITING this slightly allows me to present:  GAME THEORY APPLIED TO EDUCATION – TEACHING AND LEARNING: my italics added…

“Now that the social layer has been layered into education, some people say, the next layer will be the game layer….
With the theory of game design applied to an online course, you want a curve like this: increasingly large payoffs (points towards grades or perhaps initially just appreciation and comment from instructor / peers) at random but increasingly spaced intervals. So the first payoff is very small (great post Johnnie – you have really grasped this concept), and the next payoff is a little bigger, (10/10 for that short paper Wendy) and the next one … To begin with you get a payoff for one out of five actions, then it’s one out of twenty, then it’s one out of fifty (Final paper was a bear but I “ACHIEVED IT” / “cleared that level!”) – but those intervals have to be random. That is the key to human addiction.
Game mechanics mostly means overtly turning thingies into games. Even without overt game mechanics, the gamelike nature of social interaction is why we’re addicted to social media in general. It’s why I’m addicted to email (posting to the discussion boards / interacting with the class). Most emails Many posts I get (read) are bullshit (not hugely helpful or insightful). But every once in a while, I get an email read a post that feels affirming in some special way – etc etc etc…  Ergo I check my email the discussion boards / work on my classwork about every twenty-seven seconds. You can’t blame the Internet for the flaw that we’re basically crackheads. Our bodies are designed with the flaw of wanting to be crackheads. And manipulating that flaw is partly how you get 500 million users for your thingy a hugely engaged and engaging learning experience….

Too simplistic??