Game based empowerment, our own derivative of the term 'Game based learning', goes beyond simply applying gamification or integrating game methods to 'liven up' a learning process. In addition to creating a more effective and therefore more sustainable learning experience, gameWise aims first and foremost to empower young people through play.
Our games lower thresholds and open up the opportunity of entering into dialogue with young people on social themes. By means of games, we are able to connect more closely to the young people’s world and appeal to their intrinsic motivation, which has a remarkable positive effect on their learning experience. Choosing to apply certain themes through play increases not only the substantive knowledge about that theme, but also makes it discussable. In this way we want to strengthen people not only in their knowledge and skills but also create space for young people to feel safe and grow (further) in self-reliance and active citizenship.
Empowerment is a process of strengthening of individuals, organisations and communities. They try to get a grip on their situation and environment through control, critical thinking and participation (Fililp Coussée, 2011).
gameWise uses games to contribute to this process of empowerment and to create a sustainable learning effect. This means that we want to empower young people so that they can participate critically and self consciously in society.
Judi Camberlin (1944-2010), leading lady in activism for mental health care and training director of the American National Empowerment Centre, defines in her work ‘A working definition of empowerment’ (1997) 15 qualities that must be deployed in order to be able to speak of empowerment. Chamberlin worked with patients in mental health care but these qualities are also indispensable for young people in today’s society.
gameWise creates an open atmosphere during all its activities and strives to strengthen these qualities among young people. Game based empowerment aims to increase the self confidence and autonomy of young people through game and digital tools.
Empowerment is based on the premise that everyone has the opportunity to learn, grow and change. The strengths and competences are already present but must be given the opportunity to express themselves ‘Filip Coussée, 2011).
If we really want to get something going and focus on long-term learning effect, then motivation is incredibly important. Only when they are motivated to learn, room for new knowledge, skills and insights will be there. Games in themselves can motivate young people. We are talking about extrinsic motivation, something from the outside motivates young people to learn. However our Serious Urban Games® are constructed in such a way that they also appeal to the intrinsic motivation of young people. By actively involving young people in the development of our offer, our themes and approach connect to their world. This not only makes the content recognisable and relevant but also results in games that young people really like to play.
When we work with young people, we always start from the Self-Determination Theory (Deci & Ryan, 1985), which states that a human being has three innate basic needs that must be satisfied in order to achieve optimal functioning, well-being and growth. The three basic psychological needs that are distinguished in the SDT -- and which are seperate from the basic physiological needs -- are also referred to as the ABC of psychological development:
gameWise makes games for young people, with young people. Together with them we investigate what is relevant and important within a certain theme [Autonomy]. In this way we can work in the zone of the immediate development (Lev Vygotsky) and maintain the balance between the existing living environment of the young person and the widening of horizons that we want to achieve, because our games also want to provide young people with new insights and skills that lead to greater empowerment [Competence].
Not only empowerment of the individual is important, but also that the right circumstances are created for this. Empowerment is just as much about interaction and reinforcing connections between the individual and the group (Filip Coussée, 2011). This is why gameWise wants to use its games to bring young people closer together and close to the gap with teachers and supervisors, services and organisations, institutions and policy [Belongingness]