“Health insurance” and “fun:” two terms that are rarely used in the same sentence. But for the Health Administration and Policy graduate program at George Mason University, Wiley created a gamified learning experience that did just that.
What does gamification actually mean? For our work on this course, it meant taking the components that make games interesting and engaging and incorporating them into an educational experience. Those elements include narrative immersion, meaningful interactivity, and outcomes that are directly influenced by the player’s actions.
Gamification allowed us to contextualize those concepts, connect them to the real world, and invite students to empathize with the real people who are affected by the very system they’re learning about.
We built an interactive branching activity that combined the health policy expertise of Mason’s faculty with our media team’s knack for engaging content to create the Health Insurance Game. The game asks students to assume the identity of a diverse cast of characters who need to make decisions about their health insurance: a healthy single guy in his 20s, a 35-year-old woman with chronic migraines, a couple of empty nesters, and an elderly person who’s eligible for Medicare. In the process, students discover how people in radically different situations must navigate the same healthcare system. The outcomes range from encouraging to tragic depending on the student’s choices.
By putting students in a position where they had to make decisions on behalf of these characters and reckon with the results, we were able to take it a step beyond just knowledge transfer. Gamification allowed us to contextualize those concepts, connect them to the real world, and invite students to empathize with the real people who are affected by the very system they’re learning about. And maybe, in the process, they had a little fun.