From Teaching to Counselling: Current Trends in Gamification

It is pretty amazing to think of all of the tech developments that have taken place over the last couple of decades. Technology has rapidly changed our lives in ways that could be considered either positive or negative. Our grandparents could hardly dream of some of the things that we currently take for granted and enjoy on a daily basis. 

Today, technological developments influence literally every aspect of our lives, from the way we interact with people and get around new areas to the way we receive healthcare. The popularity and importance of technology in our lives only continues to grow. Not long ago, few, if any, people had a great understanding of things such as augmented reality — but now it is considered a bright new development that many are pumped for. 

Although tech influences our lives in all sorts of interesting ways, one of the most perplexing is within the gaming world. Gaming is one of the biggest sectors of technology, and it has a profound influence on our global economy. But gaming is changing; certain aspects of it are branching out into new territory, which could greatly influence the development of the next generation. 

How Gaming Is Changing

When many of us think about the gaming industry, our thoughts immediately go to images of teenage boys sitting in their parents basements thoroughly engaged with whatever hot new game they are playing. But that isn’t all the gaming industry is about. Modern gaming is innovative and constantly at the forefront of exciting tech creations — meaning it is regularly fleshing out new ideas with applications in other fields

Take augmented reality (AR) for instance. Games such as Pokemon Go revolutionized the gaming world with a new app that engaged users in a game that incorporated their own neighborhoods — merging reality with the online world of the game. Pushing the boundaries of AR tech has opened a number of new doors that all sorts of developers are now working hard to push through.  

Now, all sorts of apps are being developed that we can use with our phones to improve our day-to-day experiences. These apps can take in a mountain vista and tell you the names of which peaks you’re looking at, pull up reviews of restaurants as you walk by them in a new city, and many other entertainment-based purposes. All sorts of things are possible with AR and we are just scratching the surface. Some of the most exciting new ideas are coming to us in schools, where AR can be used to enhance both education and mental health services. 

In Education

In the education world, AR and other forms of gamification stand to completely alter the ways in which we teach our children. Of course, not everything will change, but there are a number of compelling arguments for the incorporation of this type of technology into the classroom — the first being that it may actually improve focus and overall learning outcomes in many students. 

Think of it this way: wouldn’t everything be a little bit more fun if it were a game?”

In many market-based settings where gamification has been invoked to teach employees new skills or to keep customers engaged in a product, researchers have seen user satisfaction, engagement, and knowledge retention skyrocket. Applying this to education is the next logical step. 

In addition to gamification, augmented reality has a lot of potential in a learning environment. For instance, imagine teaching students about the history of their local area. Something like AR could be used to show them what things may have looked like on their block in the early 1900s. It could be used to engage students in science, as well, by showing them what dinosaurs may have lived in their local area and what plants and animals do now. 

In Counseling 

The education of our youth is not the only possibility. There are also a lot of ways that both gamification and AR could help benefit everyone’s mental health, as well. Some research has indicated that small push reminders to take more steps to reach your daily step goal, or take a deep breath and focus on something aside from work for 2 minutes, can help us live a healthier lifestyle by increasing the likelihood that we’ll do whatever the reminder is

Beyond that, other studies have suggested that gamification of counseling and other mental health services may help distract and relax the mind. Games can be designed to help patients work through difficult emotions and complex feelings slowly and in a constructive way. For some, it can be a lot easier than talking to a stranger about their feelings. 

One real life example of gamification in counseling services is a game called SPARX, which has been used extensively to help combat feelings of depression and build a skill set in mental health management. Studies on the effectiveness of the game indicate that it builds these skills far more effectively than just face-to-face counseling alone. Of course, conversations with a counselor are unlikely to be replaced any time soon, but the games are a valuable tool in the toolbox.  

The gaming industry serves as an important development ground for many technologies that will eventually have important roles in another aspect of our lives. Ideas such as gamification and developments such as AR have a lot of potential. Some ways they are currently starting to enhance our lives is through education and counseling services, and those are just the beginning.


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