Using an "In-Game Economy" in Your Learning Programs

by Jonathan Peters, PhD
Chief Motivation Officer, Sententia Gamification

In-game economies are a common game mechanic in gamified learning programs; however, it is important to understand that people interact differently with economies based on their Motivation Profile. Without such an understanding, we risk unnecessarily stressing participants, and in some incidences, they may abandon our program.

Broadly defined, the game mechanic of economies involves some type of currency that is used to buy, sell, or trade inside the game. This currency can take different forms. At its simplest, a participant may use the points they’ve earned to “purchase” access to the next level. A more complex economy may involve an actual currency with which participants can purchase in-game items, such as weapons and adornments for their avatars.

For example, in my course, This Ain’t Your Grandma’s Grammar, I have dueling economies. The narrative for the program is Grandma...

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