Interview with Karl Kapp re: Gamification


The Gamification of Learning and Instruction

What inspired you to write this book? 

Two things compelled me to write the book. The first is that I had been working on the concept of “gamification” before I even knew the word. I was/am a big video game fan and wanted to try to bring game concepts into the learning I was designing. I had started to do that but never had a word for it. Then, one day, I saw the word gamification and I said “that’s it, that’s what I’ve been trying to do.” So I started researching the concept and learning more and more about it. However, so many people, in my opinion, were getting gamification wrong. People were focused on the least exciting elements of games (points, badges and leaderboards) and they were focused only on making learning fun. So the second reason I wrote the book was to try to provide research-based explanations and techniques of why gamification should be about engagement and not about “fun.”  I always say, “if you want someone to have fun…give them the day off.” If you want them to learn, create engaging instruction. 

If you could distill your message down to just one – what would it be? 

Gamification is about engagement. The elements from games that make them engaging and interesting are the elements we should use in gamification of learning and instruction. We should not take a superficial dive into gamification, we need to really explore the elements of games that lead to engagement and learning. And, if I could sneak one more message in here it would be that gamification is based on research-backed principles. The ideas of learner motivation, spaced practice and spaced retrieval used in gamification have been shown to lead to positive learning outcomes. It’s not bells and whistles, it’s based on sound scientific methodology.

How would a learning professional best use your book? 

I’ve written two books about gamification. One has a white cover (Gamification of Learning and Instruction: Game-based Methods and Strategies for Training and Education) and one has a black cover (Gamification of Learning and Instruction Fieldbook: Ideas into Practice). The book with the white cover is designed to describe why gamification is effective, to highlight the research behind gamification and to explain how to match instructional content to certain types of game. It is more on the theory and justification of gamification. The book with the black cover, the field book, is more about the implementation, it explains how to design interactive learning with gamification, games and simulations. It’s the “how to book.” 

Do you have a personal motto related to the book?

My motto is to help people understand the convergence of learning, technology, games and gamification through engagement, fun, laughter and insight. 





Karl M. Kapp, Professor of Instructional Technology, Bloomsburg University, author and author of six books including the Gamification of Learning series.