5 ways to gamify your classroom and keep students motivated

teacher engaging with student

Published: May 31st, 2021

Gamification is all about introducing elements of game design to non-game scenarios, such as the classroom. Applying the principles of game design within a classroom setting is nothing new; after all, the concept of incentivising students with points-based assessment systems has been around for centuries. But evolving tools, technologies, and approaches to education can put gamification at the forefront of the future of education.
Gamification can be applied in many forms – here are 5 activities to get you started:

Classroom escape room

Escape rooms are a hugely popular puzzle-solving activity which you can bring to the classroom. The goal remains the same as a traditional escape room – the students need to solve puzzles to ‘escape’ the room in a race against the clock.

You can theme the challenges and puzzles to match the learning aims, and even decorate the classroom to really get the students engaged.

Classroom escape rooms use gamification to up the ante, creating a sense of urgency and purpose while encouraging student collaboration – giving them valuable opportunities to explore identity through role play. While classroom escape rooms require some advance planning and preparation, these gamified immersive learning experiences can be well worth the effort.

Backwards grading and experience points (XP)

Using backwards grading, you can avoid learning systems in which students lose points across the year – flip this on its head to create a system where students start with zero points and gain them through their successes.

A concept used widely in gaming that may have a place in the classroom is that of experience points, or ‘XP’ for short. In video games, players are rewarded XP based on their level of mastery of the game. XP can be awarded for making a discovery, learning a new action – or any activity that develops a player’s level of experience in the game.

Similarly, XP grading systems reward students for any activity that furthers their learning. In addition to points earned on homework, tests, and quiz scores, students are awarded points for experiences such as learning how to safely set up a science lab, helping out another student, or leading a group discussion.

By implementing a backwards grading system and honouring student accomplishments with XP, teachers may see a boost in student morale and sustained progress.

Make progress visible

In many board games, players can track their progress as they move closer to the finish line. Video games often feature a progress bar that fills as players advance.

Progress visualisation can be a powerful motivational tool both in games and in the classroom. Help students chart their journey towards their academic goals by visualising their progress with point systems, leaderboards and progress bars.

Progress visualisation tools celebrate how far students have come, imparting a sense of accomplishment, and making learning goals tangible.

Adventure quest

Common in video games, quest-lines structure learning in a series of different pathways that all lead to the same eventual outcome. In the classroom, this “choose your adventure” format enables students to make decisions about their learning and builds confidence in their ability to be self-directed learners, while also offering a sense of discovery and progression.

Learning adventures can be self-paced and tailored to each student’s individual needs. Project-based learning lessons can be assigned under an overarching narrative or hero’s journey. In a gamified classroom, tests can also be reframed: significant tests may now be referred to as “Epic Quests,” quizzes be called “Heroic Quests,” and homework might be called “Side Quests.”

If at first you don’t succeed…

In many video games, players are allowed an unlimited number of tries on their journey to conquering the game. This allows players to learn from their mistakes and build on their knowledge to overcome challenges.

In a gamified classroom, students can be given multiple chances to succeed at an assignment. Students who succeed on the first try may have the option to try again to raise their score, or move on to the next activity. Giving students the chance to “try, try again” teaches students to view errors as learning opportunities rather than failures.


Remember, this is just a starting point – you can modify each of these activities to fit your class and learning goals. For more inspiration and ideas, make sure to sign up to our Resource Hub community.