Applying game mechanics outside of digital game contexts to improve learning outcomes is known as educational gamification. Games can be highly motivating and engaging to players but not all games are equally motivating to all players. Gamification works best when the type of game mechanic matches the intrinsic motivational needs of a student. This thesis investigates the concept of customizing gamification to match individual user preference categories. Throughout this thesis, I document how one novice game designer and researcher attempts to simultaneously use and investigate a bleeding-edge motivational gamification design tool, the User Type Hexad framework (Marczewski, 2015; 2018; Tondello, Mora, Marczewski, & Nacke, 2018) to create an educational application intended to teach life skills through motivationally customized gameplay in the real world. This thesis also details the creation and validation of a new instrument, LifeLeaps (Life Skill Learning Preference Survey), which I hope can assist future researchers, game designers, and educators, to assess life skill learning preferences. The goal of this work was to investigate if clusters of motivational preferences (User Types) are correlated to life skill learning preferences and to create gamified instruction which pairs learning preferences with gameplay preferences.
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Thesis advisor: Kaufman, David
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