Cash Incentives for Educational Games: Should They Be Given?

Sep 26, 2016 | 1 Votes by shilpa 10 rate Your vote
The emergence of a popular educational game that uses cash incentives is stirring up some important questions in the educational gaming community. Is this sort of incentive suitable for educational games that focus on kids? Games Educate Kids - Cash Incentives for Educational Games: Should They Be Given?

Do you know about educational games? These games are made to teach gamers about a particular something. Previously, people used to think that educational games are meant for children only. They couldn’t have been more wrong. Educational games are for everybody. Think of a flight simulator. A flight simulator can be of a novice level, enabling 18 year olds to fly a single rotor plane. A flight simulator can also be for high level pilots as well, who log in hundreds of hours in the air, carrying cargo and people alike.

So, before we head into the actual topic here, you’ll need understand the brevity of the domain of educational games. To put it simply, these are the sort of games can be enjoyed by a toddler learning ABCs, a kid learning basic math, or they be used to train adults in various professional fields.

A Step Towards Skill Building

When you think about educational games, a picture of cartoony and dancing flowers, animals, birds and humans comes into your mind. Not all educational games are of that sort though. Nowadays, educational games focus on the level of immersion as well as educational quality. If you have come across a game developer for kids, you would know that a good learning game must have the following 5 points:

  • Realism: Children nowadays try to look into things that are real. Of course, they also love Barney the purple dinosaur, but for a game developer, educating a child through minimal use of unrealistic elements is necessary.

  • Storyline: The main idea behind the storyline is its immersion. If children do not feel connected to the main element, and feel that their skills do not have an impact in the game, they would feel left out. Developers are adding a good storyline to every educational game for making children feel like they are making a difference as they learn.

  • Characters: Without interesting and charismatic characters, a good storyline might not be well executed. These characters should be memorable for the child to feel attached to them. Suppose you are playing a game where you must repair a village’s water supply. Without characters that your child will feel bad for, he/she wouldn’t feel the urge to help the villagers out.

  • Challenges: Every game must have a decent set of challenges to hone the skill of a child. A good game also need to be able to learn from the playing abilities of the child and change the game accordingly. This creates diversity and molds the game to the child’s level without being too difficult or too easy.

  • Rewards: Kids love to be told that they are doing good. Developers know that, and they put an extensive reward system in every educational game. That way, an educational game will be attractive enough for the child to return to the game more often.

  • CashEnglish offering cash incentives to its users

    A Different Way to Incentivize Kids to Play Educational Games

    Like adults craving for feedback, kids love to be told they did well too. They often get quite happy after they have solved a problem or accomplished a task and was praised as a result of it. Thus, games that ensure an extensive reward system are the sort of games that kids keep coming back to. Recently games have taken a different turn into providing rewards. It involves money. Yes, you didn’t misread it. Games are turning towards providing cash rewards to players as incentives for them to play educational games.

    The South Korean BeNative is an education startup. It had earlier gained fame and recognition by developing CashEnglish. CashEnglish rewards users with cash for playing the game correctly. Not just English, the app is available in a multitude of languages like Spanish, Korean, Japanese, Chinese and Hindi. BeNative will be adding more languages for users to learn and earn.

    CashEnglish is popular because there are a million likes on its Facebook page. To test its market presence, BeNative has released the app in Beta form for Google Play Store and Apple Store. The apps come for free, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. People have liked this app since its beta launch and they have downloaded it in hundreds of thousands. In fact, the app is the most downloaded educational game in several countries in the world.

    You can win weekly cash prizes in CashEnglish. It doesn’t come easy though. You have to solve puzzles, some easy, others complicated, to climb the leaderboard. BeNative rewarded over a thousand dollars in prizes in the first week, and the grand prize winner took a hefty $500 cash. The main idea behind BeNative’s approach was making the education industry push towards free education. People pay for education and the education industry is earning billions off it. Because of such a hefty price of education, millions of people have taken to free sources. BeNative’s aim is to take it a step further and actually pay the users who play the educational game.

    Although technically CashEnglish isn’t specifically targeting young kids in general (but maybe some of the older teens), this brings to mind whether incentivizing children with cash prizes is such a good thing?

    Asking the Right Questions

    Should games give cash incentives to kids? Probably no. Kids, younger ones especially, do not understand the concept of money early on. So, for them to understand the importance of the monetary rewards the educational games are providing, they will need to be taught by their parents... which brings to the very debatable question of whether or not parents should teach their kids to be “money-minded” early on. Realists may argue for it, but the opposite side may be against it. It’s entirely up to you, the parents, to decide which is the best path for your child.

    That being said, if the game allows them to save up for books, other stuff they like, or even to save up for their futures, who are we to judge? After all, there are teens who are already working part-time during their summer holidays so they could afford that brand new iPhone they have been craving... why is this any different? Of course, if the games that provide cash incentives were supplemented with a money managing lesson, then it would have been even better.

    In fact, if you are happy with the fact that your kid is earning money on his own by playing a game that can teach your child something beneficial, you should also teach him the concept of money and how it is used. However, ultimately, money should never be the concern for kids, at least not as much as education should be.

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