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SXSW 2018

Why “Just Add Games” Doesn’t Boost Engagement

“Get this right and unlock game time” is the way in which traditional edtech programs motivate learning. However, our study with emotional sensors found kids were often annoyed by these “reward” games and were far more motivated by the learning itself. By repurposing gamification to add weight to answering questions, we created new ways to use games to support focused learning. This session will show how games can help kids set meaningful goals and simplified rewards can cultivate motivation.

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Related Media


  1. Why answering a math problem is more motivating than playing a game, but doing both concurrently is even more engaging.
  2. For kids, how simpler reward systems enhance internal motivation without replacing it.
  3. Why games are still the best way to start a digital learning experience…but it’s not because of gamification.


  • Elliott Hedman, Experience Designer, mPath


Elliott Hedman, Experience Designer, mPath

Meta Information:

  • Event: SXSW
  • Format: Solo
  • Track: Design
  • Track 2
  • Level: Intermediate
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