Reposted from the Atlantic:
“It was just supposed to be a quick trip to Beijing, a touristy group thing to take in the sights. It wasn’t supposed to go down like this. There wasn’t supposed to be a lost manuscript; the travelers weren’t supposed to turn on each other. The only good, if any, to be found in this godforsaken quest, this unholy mission, was that by the end of it, they would all know how to speak Mandarin.
This intricate Maltese Falcon-like story will unfold each day, over the course of semester, as a multiplayer game at Renssalear Polytechnic Institute in New York. It is being designed as a language-learning exercise by Lee Sheldon, an associate professor in the college’s Games and Simulations Arts and Sciences Program. “Using games and storytelling to teach—it’s not that radical of a concept,” says Sheldon. “It makes them more interested in what’s going on.”
Sheldon is a pioneer in gamification, a new movement that essentially takes all the things that make video games engaging and applies them to classroom learning. Sheldon started developing the theory eight years ago. Since then, gamification now comes in all shapes and sizes and is used across educational levels, for kindergarteners through adult learners. Its practitioners range from individual teachers experimenting with game-like elements in their classrooms to entire schools that have integrated the games into their curricula.”