GAMIFIED LEARNING: ESPORTS WAY OF EDUCATION & THE POTENTIAL BUSINESS OF IT


I’ve been doing much research by watching YouTube videos, reading blogs, and articles during the downtime to learn, understand and educate myself about the future of sports industry, trends, business, and the innovation. I have been fascinated by the amount of quality information that’s available on the internet these days for continued “learning.”It’s been an eye-opener to watch some of the industry leaders talk and predict the future of sports business innovation. There’s something that gets me hooked on to sports business and sports money. I’m always keen to explore the business model innovation that disrupted the marketplace and introduced new consumer behaviors, and thus new product and service opportunities and monetization of the same, especially during the economic downturn. Esports, the future of sports business, is an exciting subject topic discussion, and it’s still in its early stages of the growth in comparison to traditional sports. The social media platforms and apps that fill up internet real estate with newer technologies layered on top of it to present it to the consumers are like an infinity mirror. It just feels like there’s no end to it. But one thing is for sure that the internet is going to be the new oxygen of our lives. We’ll be like fish taken out of the water without access to the internet. So this time, I decided to learn about the ed-tech sectors and how they are growing leaps and bounds during the COVID lockdown to see if any strategies available to adopt in sports or gaps in ed-tech space that sports ideas to fill-up.

And I noticed children today are far more productive with gaining knowledge and empowered with access to information like never before. The online education system is taking students’ ability to learn and store data to new heights. Because modern teaching methodologies are far more superior to the ones we went through. There’s no doubt that we had some of the best teachers during our school days. Still, technology is just going to make that playing field even by making every online teacher equally competent, efficient, and now available to masses. It’s merely because of the way content is delivered today. Children are in a perfect place to consume information in visual and audio forms, which is more realistic than the text form of teaching and learning. It was solely up to the teacher to get creative and use her/his skills to bring objects to life to explain a particular concept, be it physical, biological, or chemical. But today’s teaching has depth in it through the power of storytelling and narration. There’s a two-way advantage for kids of this age, one with visual e-learning and access to the internet. They can simply Google the things they want to learn more about it. Back in the day, we were short on resources for both visual learning and access to the internet.

"Teaching children is one part, but evaluating their learning, assessing it, and motivating them to keep learning new things is another thing. Today’s education is fun, but what’s beyond that? How can we incentivize kids more than just being a fun activity? There’s gotta be another dimension to learning, which keeps the learning process a continuous loop forever even after traditional schooling. As these questions popped up, one thing that stood out during the course of my research is the concept of ‘gamified learning.’ It surely is an exciting topic, and I would have happily taken this on if it was available during my academic days. The hybridization of esports(and online gaming) and e-learning have existed for a while now."

FOLLOWING THE TRENDING

We are aware kids are hooked on to mobile gaming and esports than ever before but spend less time on education apps. Of course, it’s fun to learn the newer technology way, but students would still be waiting to get off of online classes. They’d again feel like there are going to school forced by their parents and watched over to make sure they stay tuned in till the online courses finished. Understandably, it’s just the nature of learning. Still, we could do better than this to amplify the student’s interest in education and making it more competitive by gamifying it. It’s the gamification of learning — the esports strategy combined with the fun of learning. There are shades of fantasy sports strategy too. It’s all about following the trends. Education is more fun with sports, and by now we all know that esports is the world that children in the modern era live. Whether we like it or not, children are going to go down that path. We’ll see children pay for esports and make money off of esports. Then why not for learning which has better ROI in life overall than just gaming. I know this is going to raise many eyebrows and make it questionable from an ethical and morality standpoint. But it’s just the kind of world we live in today.

"In my opinion(one man), there’s nothing wrong with monetizing children for a gamified version of education and also teaching them the meaning of financial freedom by rewarding them monetarily for the efforts they’ve put in. The single biggest failure and broken part of the education system are that it doesn’t teach children how to live in the real world. It explains the technicalities of the world, but not the practicality of it. So ethically speaking, teaching financial freedom and financial intelligence should be an integral part of education in the first place. It’s essential to show children how to make money and what making money feels like, so that they don’t become zoo animals after letting them free for the first time with money. Parents could pay for the first part of the education, and children should be enabled to continue paying for the rest of it through earning by playing studies and education. It’s complicated and challenging, no doubt. But if we have the right intent and a system in place to monetize children regularly by creating absolute transparency and clarity with parents and paying them back a portion of it. Then the infinity loop continues and works in favor of all — the online education system, parents, and children."

WORKING MODEL OF GAMIFIED LEARNING

To provide better clarity on how it’d work. We need to understand the concept of microtransactions (loot boxes) and how the freemium model works in esports. And then apply it to online learning. Instead of charging the entire fee upfront, the online teaching app companies could offer the course for either free(freemium) or charging a necessary amount upfront to get them into the “game of learning.” Then comes the concept of microtransactions where you charge the student an elementary amount a Starbucks coffee would cost every time they enter a new level in the form of class or course. Because parents wouldn’t mind spending a dollar or two every day instead of paying thousands and thousands of dollars upfront to enroll the kids, this way, the companies could keep charging $1–2$ every day in eternity. It would bring in more money than charging a one-time upfront fee, also encourage more students to signup. For example, instead of making the course package $299.99 for the year, the ed-tech companies could charge $59.99 upfront or even free and continue to cost the students a dollar or two every day for the rest of the year. Students would have to pay for a new course in the form of a new gaming level that would make the ed-tech gaming companies anywhere between $450–$650 instead of earlier $299.99. But it’s just not charging the kid; it’s making the student enter the new gamified level of learning every time where concepts are characters of a game. The creativity of the highest level comes into the picture now.

Of course, we have had quizzes and trivia questions to gamify learning, but it needs to be more than just that. It should be a whole new system of teaching a particular concept by making students play it to understand it. For example, a circulatory system in a human being’s body could be drafted into a mini-game concept to allow students to learn the flow of blood as if they were playing a game to collect points and win it. It’s just an idea; there are so many ways to engage the kids by gamifying education. But the whole idea is to incentivize and motivate kids to keep playing multiple levels of education courses and allowing them to collect points, characters, scores, and even virtual money. That’s what gets them going because of esports and online games have sort of spoiled them. The education gaming companies charge a dollar to enter the level or a course and pay them back 25 to 50 cents, that’s how you keep building momentum for students to keep gaming and still learning. This way, we can have the students hooked on to concepts and theories forever without them having to leave the space for something new. It’s learning for learning and gaming for gaming, and students get the best of both worlds. And all crazy gaming characters could be used as teachers. It is going to be a whole new level of content creation and generation strategy, but it’s possible.

BUSINESS MODEL OF GAMIFIED-LEARNING: MONETIZATION & REWARDING

The idea is to cut out the junk and focus on only the things that matter. It is keeping the learning quick, easy, and straightforward by engaging students in less education and more playing but still imparting knowledge that way they are not bored of it but always motivated to get to the next level. Allow kids to learn, reap the rewards and benefits throughout the process. Let students complete courses, exams, and win freebies and goodies that lets them unlock more through microtransactions. It’s also important to treat students like players, and glorify their achievements through sponsorships, making them brand ambassadors, awarding gaming contracts through scholarships. It’s crucial to go the ethical route and not distract kids. But educate kids about prospects by showing them options and career choices they want to pursue. It then brings us to the topic of brand advertisement sponsorship, where you treat brands that come on-board for advertising on the learning-gaming app as placement companies to hire students as interns, trainees, and employees. That serves and fits well with the students’ interests, too, and brands would pay for such exposure and visibility. There could be other offline events and revenue-generating avenues with a socio-economic cause like career fair events.

It’s essential to think big and have a broader vision. We need to envision in-app learning as schools and universities where they teach subjects like science, maths, and language, along with sports and arts. And we could incentivize students by providing occasional gaming-studying breaks with the actual esports and e-arts related activities. Charge students for extracurricular development and also charge esports and e-arts partners to engage with the students for additional revenue-generating opportunities. By providing scholarships and redeemable monies in other apps, it encourages more students and ancillary education brands to signup. Also, take the fantasy sports route where kids bet on scores(marks) of their fellow partners. Incentivize students for cracking tests and exams, get them hooked onto the learning, but still charging them to enter the competition and win money through winning the education race.

FINAL THOUGHTS

"And at the end of it all, there needs to be open and upfront discussions around micro-transactions, and parents should be educated about how it is an ethical way to engage and motivate kids and set clear expectations. The stakeholders responsible for allowing students to use their parent’s money should also be made aware of having a cap on how much students can spend per day. By giving this opportunity for students, it exposes students to play, think, and earn, which sets a solid foundation for their future. “Why make children victims of esports when we can make them winners of learning through the same gamification ideology.”