The future of gamification of Duolingo
In the five years I've been using Duolingo there has been an expansion in terms of the number of languages, number of lessons per language, general usability and some side features such as podcasts and stories. All that is good, no objection there. There's no denying a learning value Duolingo already has, as is.
What's seen very little change, however, is the very premise that is the Duolingo's selling point - gamification of learning, and my question is - what's the future of it? What are the plans on the part of the developers?
The whole point of making a learning tool more game-like is to make the learning more organic, life-like and enticing for the user, at least that's my view.
Unfortunately, all Duolingo had borrowed from the contemporary gaming culture are some ubiquitous tropes like in-game currency, experience points, daily streaks, badges and leaderboards. These are the things that are not making Duolingo more game-like, but the things that are making the gaming experience more bureaucracy-like and ruining it. There is no intrinsic value in being compelled to log in every day and beat others to the top spot in some arbitrary group. I ignore all of that because I'm here to learn a language, not to beat others to it.
Why aren't the lessons themselves gamified? The core process of going through a lesson is still repetitive, gruelling and, worst of all, linear. That's the area that needs expanding. It could also use a lot more visualisation (illustrations, pictures) and contextualisation (real-life situations, not random sentences), but I get that that's an expensive undertaking. If there has to be in-game currency, why aren't there more things to purchase? I've already gone through all the attires for the owl and unlocked all the flirting and holiday lessons I could. And still have over 2000 lingots. What's the use? I think all the advanced lessons could be put behind the paywall, a progressive one, perhaps, which could make a user practice and earn currency on the simpler lessons before affording to move on to harder ones. It might benefit the motivation. I have no use for badges, XPs, leaderboards and daily streaks and I believe very few people do.
So, what are we to expect in the future when it comes to gamification? Is Duolingo going to be a pioneer or a follower that it is now?
This is such an excellent observation. When I was a child I really had fun with English literacy video games like Speak and Spell and Reader Rabbit, and I attribute some of my achievement to them. In retrospect, some of the exercises were somewhat inane, but for a child of the 1980's they were amazing. Wouldn't it be neat if we had some of that here?
I like the idea of contextualization in the context of role-play. There could even be ways to recover from mistakes - for example, if you choose the wrong pronoun and upset the diplomat, you could have the opportunity to counter by explaining your country's capabilities using the correct verb tenses, aspects, and moods (we HAVE an army, and we COULD bomb you, but we WON'T, because we LIKE you).
I don't get much motivation from trying to beat others, but I do like seeing my own accomplishments pile up over time. I would find value in more badges/awards like you see at Khan Academe as well as a calendar showing days where goals are met, and how today, this week, this month compare to previous days, weeks, months like you see on Memrise. These things not only add to the sense of accomplishment, but help me track trends in my effort, encouraging me to push harder. That said, a leader board of all users would give me a sense of where I fall in overall ranking, and allow me to watch my progress as I accumulate points over time, also like Memrise. Not so much as a competition with others, but as a way of tracking my own progress as I rise in the ranks.
Also, for goodness sake, either get rid of lingots or give us something to do with them. In game money that cannot be spent is pointless.
Ikr, I feel that duo is now more focused on being a game than a learning tool. I know is important to make some things playable, so you can stick to them instead of giving up or getting bored. But c'mon, now everything here looks like a game designed for kids, not like an app for learning.