Game-based Learning and Gamification are two different approaches!

After the brief stop-and-go during our summer break, we pick up our blog with two of the most interesting topics related to 3D Tune-In: gamification and game-based learning.

Within the 3D Tune-In project, we work with many different types of gamification and game-based learning approaches. As time goes by, our partners are developing applications and games for improving hearing aid use and for educating people about hearing loss. But, what is gamification? And, what is game-based learning? Are these the same thing? In our post today, we will try to clarify the differences between these two concepts.

Gamification is a methodology based on incentives and reinforcement in which you can use either videogames or other media. Gamification uses a broad range of tools and game elements within non-game situations for creating a collaborative, goal-focused and reward-based environment. It rewards with points, badges and other items for teaching strategies, contents or skills, and for enforcing habits. An example? New wearables measure physical activity and reward the user with badges and points.  Gamification techniques empower users, increasing their engagement and producing a real meaningful learning. Meaningful learning, in this context, depends on commitment, interaction with peers and active learning [1].

Game-based learning uses video games or traditional games for acquiring skills or competencies and training people (students, employees, etc.). For example, Angry birds were used in primary education for learning physics; some other games are widely used for teaching skills, such as chess.  Players, naturally, want to keep playing, and immersion and interactivity enhance learning.

However, most of the times gamification and game-based learning come together. So, how can we differentiate between them? To summarize, gamification assumes that users learn and adopt habits responding to triggers. If that behaviour is rewarded and the reinforcement is adequate, the likelihood of action occurring on a subsequent occasion will be increased [2] through the availability and perceived importance of skills, resources and learning opportunities [3]. Game-based learning focuses, in an affordable way, on acquiring specific knowledge and expertise through the use of video games, computer games or traditional games [4]

Our applications use both: gamification and game-based learning. In a nutshell, Musiclarity, AudGamPRO and Play&Tune are fully gamified apps aimed at adults and audiologists. Their interfaces integrate gamified elements for engaging users and reinforcing the acquisition of sophisticated skills. Darius Adventure and Dartanan are games. Their objective is to raise awareness and educate the whole society and kids with hearing loss, respectively. You can read more about our apps here.


[1] Kearsley, G., & Shneiderman, B. (1998). Engagement Theory: A Framework for Technology-Based Teaching and Learning. Educational technology, 38(5), 20-23 ; Nygård, S., Kolås, L., & Sigurdardottir, H. (2015). Teachers’ Experiences Using KODU as a Teaching Tool. European Conference on Games Based Learning, 416

[2] O'Brien, H. L., & Toms, E. G. (2008). What is user engagement? A conceptual framework for defining user engagement with technology. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, 59(6), 938-955; Milman, N. (2016). What Is Engagement? Distance Learning, 13(3), 61.

[3] Williams, M., & Burden, R. L. (2004). Psychology for language teachers. Ernst Klett Sprachen.

[4] Tobias, S., Fletcher, J. D., & Wind, A. P. (2014). Game-based learning. In Handbook of research on educational communications and technology (pp. 485-503). Springer New York.