Developing a Theory of Gamified Learning: Linking Serious Games and Gamification of Learning

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319 Scopus citations


Background and Aim. Gamification has been defined as the use of characteristics commonly associated with video games in non-game contexts. In this article, I reframe this definition in terms of the game attribute taxonomy presented by Bedwell and colleagues. This linking is done with the goal of aligning the research literatures of serious games and gamification. A psychological theory of gamified learning is developed and explored. Conclusion. In the theory of gamified learning, gamification is defined as the use of game attributes, as defined by the Bedwell taxonomy, outside the context of a game with the purpose of affecting learning-related behaviors or attitudes. These behaviors/attitudes, in turn, influence learning by one or two processes: by strengthening the relationship between instructional design quality and outcomes (a moderating process) and/or by influencing learning directly (a mediating process). This is contrasted with a serious games approach in which manipulation of game attributes is typically intended to affect learning without this type of behavioral mediator/moderator. Examples of each game attribute category as it might be applied in gamification are provided, along with specific recommendations for the rigorous, scientific study of gamification.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)752-768
Number of pages17
JournalSimulation and Gaming
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 9 2014
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 SAGE Publications.


  • attitudes
  • behavior
  • game attribute taxonomy
  • game attributes
  • game element taxonomy
  • game elements
  • gamification
  • gamified learning
  • learning
  • learning outcomes
  • mediation
  • model
  • moderation
  • psychology
  • serious games
  • simulation/gaming
  • taxonomy
  • theory
  • training


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