Exploring Gamification

This was my senior thesis, more or less. I found that I didn’t really have any desire to get into legitimate research and really wanted to get into building video games, so I talked with my adviser and decided I would explore the concept of gamification. Gamification is the use of game design techniques to alter a learning method in an attempt to increase student productivity. It’s loosely based on active learning. Anyway, my focus was creating a video game, similar to Mario, that followed the cosmic distance ladder through space, helping students better understand the function and importance of the cosmic distance ladder as a tool in an astronomer’s kit. I don’t think there’s much else to say, outside of feel free to browse through my thesis. I’ll leave my abstract below, along with a link to my thesis. If you think it’s a pretty cool concept or have anything to say about it, feel free to send me an email or leave a comment. Thanks for reading.

My Thesis

Gamification is a method of teaching material through the use of game design techniques. These techniques can range anywhere from abstractions of reality to goals and motivation. Initially, research was done into the methods of gamification, exploring game design principles and methods of active learning. Game design principles focused primarily on ways to engage and motivate students to learn and understand the material more efficiently. Active learning exploration involved researching the effectiveness of such a method, as well as the ways in which the topic is implemented. Once these ideas had been solidified, a topic, the cosmic distance ladder, was chosen as the core material behind the creation of a platform game. With the intention of creating a game that would be applicable as supplementary material for an introductory astronomy course, the game explores many of the topics found on the cosmic distance ladder, creating a way for students to actively engage in methods used to find distances throughout the universe.