2020 and beyond…


2019 has been the year of consolidation – an organic transition of the team’s ‘player’s journey’ from ‘discovery and onboarding’ through to ‘practice building’ towards ‘mastery’. Practice defining projects and initiatives such as GameChangers (including its spin-off project in Malaysia, and other local and international initiatives) and Beaconing were initiated circa 2015 and 2016 respectively. Prior research, knowledge and experience of the team provided a strong foundation upon which all the game-based research, development, practice and interventions were further developed, applied and investigated. The specific projects such as CreativeCulture and Beaconing both ended successfully in 2019 in the official sense but they are continuing to engage, transform and open up new opportunities for transforming education practice.

Beaconing - Winner Badge Transparent Background (1)GC Winner Badge Transparent Background (3)The recent wins at the Gamification Award 2019 were particularly special as they demonstrate acknowledgments from existing practitioners in the Gamification community from the various sectors. Research can translate into practice! Thanks to all the esteemed judges.

Towards Education 4.0: From the investigations and practice of the past few years, it is essential for the education sector to broaden and extend the impact of experiential learning through play and gamification as a creative, emphatic and inclusive pedagogical practice towards Education 4.0 as a response to Industry 4.0. Creative and co-creative non-disciplinary specific capabilities and competences are important for preparing young people for the uncertainties of tomorrow’s world. If the education sector stays on its current trajectory, half of all young people around the world entering the workforce in 2030 will lack necessary skills they need to thrive (Delloite, 2018). To transition into Industry 4.0, complex problem solving, creativity and emotional intelligence are crucial (World Economic Forum, 2016) – emphasising collaborative, active and experiential 21st-century pedagogies that focus on active dialogue, enquiry based, media literacy and learner-centred approaches (UNESCO, 2015). Education 4.0 as an emerging paradigm builds on ‘learning by doing’ (JISC, 2019), encouraging learners to be curious, creative and self-regulated towards innovative economies (OECD, 2018).

What has play got to do with it?: Play enables experiential practices for constructing knowledge and skills (Winthrop, 2019), facilitating a creative inquiry process (Norgard et al., 2017) through social constructivism (Gee, 2016) – essential for the new realities of tomorrow (World Economic Forum, 2019). Using games as a playful tool allow learners to engage in imagined scenarios and challenges, “defined by rules, that results in a quantifiable outcome” (Salen & Zimmerman, 2008). Active learning occurs through games, which are powerful learning environments (Iacovides et al., 2011) and game-making, where designing systems and understanding human behaviour draws on concepts fundamental for developing digital creativity (Nesta, 2013; Mozelius & Olsson, 2017).

Teachers are the key to mobilising young people: Teacher upskilling is a direct means for achieving inclusive and equitable quality education targets (UNESCO, 2017). The call for adoption of gamified learning should come with support that increases teachers’ confidence before learners could be mobilised by the approach (Blumberg et al., 2019). Teachers can be on-boarded through game-making that fosters transversal skills (Kafai & Burke, 2015), empathy, social responsibility and collaboration (Arnab et al. 2019), where they come together to create something meaningful to them (Bermingham et al., 2013). The same process can be applied to students i.e. the experiential ‘learning by doing’, where in the programmes we have developes, teachers can use a playful design process (the remixing play method) as a learning process in the class room.

What’s next? The work is not done yet! We are interested to see how playful and gameful approaches could provide a pedagogical approach that would develop and enhance social resilience of young people. Technological, enonomic, social and political landscapes often change! How can we prepare for the world of tomorrow – the agility and resilence required to respond, adapt and transform our ecosystem from where we are. OECD (2018) emphasises that to navigate an increasingly uncertain and ambiguous world, young people will need to develop curiosity, imagination, resilience, and self-regulation.

We consider play as an activity/instrument/tool and playfulness as an attitude/practice. Play in an educational context enables creative and exploratory practices for constructing knowledge and skills (Winthrop, 2019), intrinsically driven by our motivational needs for autonomy, relatedness and competence (Deci & Ryan, 2004). Playfulness is about being open to new experiences, imaginations and ability to explore possibilities (Norgard et al., 2017). As emphasised by the World Economic Forum (Brodin et al., 2018; 2019), play is a vital instrument for equipping young people with the skills and tools to address and embrace the new realities of tomorrow, where play is the freedom for them to engage with, develop curiosity about, and learn from the world and people that surround them in positive ways. Through a global study, Brodin et al. (2019) found that there is an alarming gap in play by gender and socio-economic factors for young people across 70 countries, highlighting a strong link between play and the development of a range of skills young people will need to flourish.

2019 as the year of consolidation was a pretty hectic one – and that explains the lack of posts towards the end of that year. As we embarked on new initiatives that are building on previous research, development, and practice outcomes, I will try to document our journey as we go along – starting the new cycle of onboarding towards mastery and consolidations of many new exciting prospects to discover in the future. I will soon talk about other projects such as the exciting UKRI ODA (GCRF) ACES project and the various EU-funded practice-based projects on topics such as Cultural Risks, digital literacy, and racism, etc. GameChangers as our ongoing initiative will be part of all our play and game-based research, development, and practice.

Come on team – let’s make this new decade another decade to remember!


Brodin, J., Goodwin, J., Knell, G. and Kruythoff, K. (2019).  What the global ‘play gap’ means for our children’s futures. World Economic Forum. Retrieved from: https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2019/01/play-gap-hurting-childrens-skills-futures/ [Accessed 07/02/2020]

Deci, E. L., and Ryan, R. M. (2004). Overview of self-determination theory: An organismic dialectical perspective. In E. L. Deci & R. M. Ryan (Eds.), Handbook of self-determination research, pp. 3–33. Rochester, NY: University of Rochester Press.

Jisc (2019). Preparing for Education 4.0. Times Higher Education. Retrieved from: https://www.timeshighereducation.com/hub/jisc/p/preparing-education-40 [Accessed 07/02/2020]

Nørgård, R. T., Toft-Nielsen, C. and Whitton, N. (2017) Playful learning in higher education: developing a signature pedagogy, International Journal of Play, 6(3), pp. 272-282. doi: 10.1080/21594937.2017.1382997

OECD (2018). The future of education and skills Education 2030. OECD. Retrieved from: https://www.oecd.org/education/2030/E2030%20Position%20Paper%20(05.04.2018).pdf  [Accessed 07/02/2020]

UNESCO (2015). Global Citizenship Education: Topics and Learning Objectives, UNESCO, Paris. Available from: https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000232993c [Accessed 07/02/2020]

Winthrop, R. (2019). How playful learning can help leapfrog progress in education, Policy Brief Report. Center for Universal Education at Brookings. Retrieved from: https://www.brookings.edu/research/how-playful-learning-can-help-leapfrog-progress-in-education/ [Accessed 07/02/2020]

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