Emotify! The power of the human element in game-based learning, serious games and experiential education.
By Michael J. Sutton and Kevin Allen,
- EI GAMES LLC, 1865 Daytonia Road, Miami, FL, 33141, USA
ISBNs: 978-1-7046046-8-8 (paperback); 1733223401 (eBook); 978-1-7332234-2-3 (Adobe PDF)
Reviewed by Dr. George Simons at diversophy.com
This book is strong on the history of educational strategies and both decries the persistence of less productive, outdated methodologies and offers perspectives on developing processes for their improvement or replacement. Allen is a corporate professional providing insight into organizational maximization of gamification, while Sutton is a polymath who has years of experience both in the IT field as well as in academic environments. Given that, the book is strongly focused on academic educational environments, often poking them for their inaction and giving them concrete to-dos, though ultimately its applicability reaches much further. However, it addresses not only professors and administrators, but also managers, HR professionals, marketers and consultant-trainers with the means for not only of creating gamified events, but of selling them to participants and sponsors and implementing them.
With an ample initial background on the history of teaching and learning, the text moves to identifying the challenges for gamified education and activities in the present and future. This requires a good look at the possible approaches and resources, not an easy task in a world where there are so many possibilities and a growing population of digital natives who quickly tire of what becomes ordinary and seek novelty. While digital is essential for approaching this generation of learners on their own terms, and the authors carefully explore millennial characteristics as well as their diversity, it is extremely important that the digital be used to support the face-to-face realities of life, to create engagement and not let this concern slip away so that we totally morph into Mindys.
How does one discover the right approach: choosing among excellent alternatives? This is a core question that the authors explore in significant and helpful detail. While the focus of this work is on learning and education, it is obvious throughout that learning is more than stacking the mental library with encyclopaedic knowledge of facts and functions. It is enriched humanity created through interaction that creates us as it instructs us, in contact and often communion with our environments and the others in it. Gaming both invites and enables this in a contained and sustainable way. It’s about storytelling and developing one’s story.
Having long conducted 4 day-long immersive learning environments myself in university classroom environments on cultural competence, I was interested in the authors’ exploration of such events. It enabled me to identify the various constitutive elements and recognize what made my efforts successful as well as see where bits failed to click and impeded the flow of the process. The substantial thoroughness of the authors’ work is not just for the creation of game-based learning but serves as an excellent set of analytic and assessment models and tools with which to examine the gamified events, which we are launching or have already launched, for continuous improvement.
The reader will appreciate the use of simple direct language which makes the content both easily accessible, even entertaining, to the lay reader while also supporting the text with an extensive index and solid references in the endnotes. Following a growing trend, Emotify pushes the reader to engage in activities and explorations outside its covers. This reviewer, being a history buff, appreciated the rich background contextually provided for the insights and approaches offered in the text. The authors’ style of presentation substantially alleviates the pain of reading more academic texts where resources are quoted in abundance but without the context of their development being exposed.