What is a game? Wikipedia says it is structured playing, yet ask around and you will get as many different definitions. I think a game is an activity with a prelusory goal within the confines of voluntarily constitutive rules; in other words, structure and attitude. But what makes playing games so engaging is that they are FUN.
Vygotsky (1978) said, "play creates a zone of proximal development of the child. In play a child always behaves beyond his average age, above his daily behavior; in play it is as though he were a head taller than himself. As in the focus of a magnifying glass, play contains all developmental tendencies in a condensed form and is itself a major source of development."
Fun can be many things to many people, yet fun is always highly engaging to all people. Through research, XEODesign discovered The 4 Keys to Fun which is a model for thinking about fun. It is also useful for planning for fun learning experiences or gamification that engages players at the 'right' level of fun; even fun can get boring eventually. The four types of fun are: easy fun, hard fun, people fun, and serious fun.
Fun is a powerful motivator and finding the fun in everyday experiences can be used in gamification, in education, or to change social behavior. Thefuntheory.com believe that the easiest way to change people’s behavior is to find that fun, and I totally agree, this is my favorite.
Finally, I encourage you to try fit that F word in your teaching and learning.
The 4 Keys to Fun retrieve from http://www.xeodesign.com/research.html on 16 May 2013.
Vygotsky, L. (1978). The Role of Play in Development retrieved from http://www.igs.net/~pballan/RoleofPlayinDevelopment(Vygotsky,1978).htm on 16 May 2013.