Using Children’s Development Language for a Gamification Platform: The Reasoning Behind Choosing It and Our Experience
Chapter 2: Versatility
A gamification platform is designed to help people of all ages and backgrounds set and achieve goals (like learn different skills, be more engaged at work, improve team work, advocate for wellbeing etc.) using game-like mechanics to motivate and reward progress. One of the key decisions we made in designing Morfin.studio was to use Blockly, a children’s development language created by Google, as the interface for creating and customizing gamification scenarios. In the first chapter of this series was discussed the drug and drop interface and its benefits.
Another reason for choosing children’s development language for our gamification platform and the subject of today’s article is its versatility. Google’s Blokly development language is designed to be easy to learn and use, which means that it can be used for a wide range of purposes and applications.
First of all, after understanding the logic of the different colored blocks, how they work and what they mean, the editors, regular people that don’t have knowledge in programming, are able to repurpose and use them in creative ways. All of them are customizable, giving you the ability to choose the title, text font and color, widget etc.
Secondly, different game scenarios could be created to work together, creating a complex game mechanic with multiple tasks and challenges. For example, you can create a scenario with a logic and from that create multiple ones that work in relation to the first, base scenario. For you to better understand what I’m trying to explain, let’s imagine a situation.
Let’s say my goal for 2023 moving forward is to have a healthier lifestyle. But I don’t want to make all these changes at once as it is not sustainable. Also, people say it takes more than two months to create a habit so I came up with a 4 month plan in order to push myself to gain healthy habits while creating an enjoyable transition.
I’ll explain how it works. Each month I want to focus on adding a new healthy habit while also keeping the one from the previous month into my lifestyle like: first month drinking water, second month eating more fruits and vegetables cooked at home and 3rd month being more active and exercising more. For each month I’ll create challenges and tasks around the specific habit. I need to complete all tasks and challenges in order to gain points that would unlock the next month. I can also throw in some fun rewards like I could take myself to a nice trip if I complete a goal for example if I walk to work and from work every day for one full week.
The 4th month, after I complete all my goals, all these healthy actions are habits now and I only need to maintain them. I can invite my friends and family to my community so we can all compete in order to become healthier.
Please keep in mind this is an example I came up with on the spot, so much more complex gamifications could be created.
Thirdly, all scenarios can be reused and repurposed. All scenarios created by you can be found in your library so you can access them easily anytime you want to change something. Also, you have the function to copy and paste blocks from a scenario to another and also you can import or export scenarios to share with other editors. These functions are very useful for time optimization.
In addition, Blockly can be used in more than 40 languages. This effort was taken so the 94% of the world that does not speak English natively, can focus on understanding the logic. Neil Fraser, one of the developers at Blockley said in an interview “Translating Blockly into native languages allows one to postpone the language barrier until after the programming concepts have been mastered.” (Luis Ibanez, 2015)
In conclusion, the decision to use a children’s development language, specifically Blockly, for Morfin.io’s gamification platform was also based on its versatility. Overall, our experience using children’s development language for our gamification platform has been positive, as it has allowed us to create a user-friendly and flexible platform that can be easily customized to meet the needs of various communities.
Luis Ibanez, (2015). Blockly makes it easier to learn to code | Opensource.com. Available at: https://opensource.com/education/15/2/blockly-makes-easier-every-one-learn-code.