Gamification as Tool of Social Inclusion

Gamification is a relatively new format of teaching and training with a capacity to become one of the most important tools in the future. It is proven that people learn new information much better if they are having fun during the process. Also it can be a very helpful instrument for people with fewer opportunities to see something new or to meet new people without putting too much effort.

Hello, I´m Anastasia, I´m a volunteer in Fundació Catalunya Voluntária and I participated in my first training project abroad “Gamification as Tool of Social Inclusion”. It is a part of the European project KA2 “Spread the Game” that took place in Palermo from 11th to 16th of July 2021. The aim of the project is to understand how different digital and non-digital games can make us understand better what social inclusion is, what problems and struggles socially excluded people have and how we can use games in helping people to get more involved in social everyday life.

People with fewer opportunities are a very sensitive group of people in relation to social inclusion. Physical disabilities create a bubble of social void around them because of an uneasily accessible environment (towns, countryside, buildings, and transport system), insufficient governmental support, unequal opportunities for employment, lack of personal assistance and backup. People with mental illnesses always need extra love and support, they require staying in a big social group with parents, partners, extended families, close friends, neighbors, coworkers and so on. But in reality, because of the shortage of knowing how to act around a person with mental illness, people start vanishing from their lives.

During the project we were trying to understand people with fewer opportunities a little bit more. For this purpose we went to Associazione Uniamoci Onlus, which is a non-profit organization in Palermo that works in the field of social inclusion of young people/adults with disabilities. It carries out its activity in the area of integration/inclusion, education, protection and social assistance of people with disabilities.We were spending time talking, learning and doing practices together. Besides, during the days we had different activities focused on learning what people with fewer opportunities feel: we were trying to walk in a big yard with covered eyes led by a companion or to make the line out of people from the youngest to the oldest without speaking. We were practicing Storytelling to tell stories of persons with physical disabilities and mental illnesses. During the creation of the stories we were trying to think about their emotions, thoughts and desires.

In 21st century we can’t talk about gamification without mentioning digital tools: computer and mobile games, Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR). They can become one of the most important instruments in teaching about social inclusion. For example, Swing (Sign for Work Inclusion Gain) is a project funded under the Erasmus+ KA2 programme that teaches four different sign languages (Italian, German, Spanish and Hungarian) through video dictionary. Another project is a mobile game “Inclusion Bridges” that promotes social inclusion through creativity, especially among young people.

This project showed me that gamification is a very useful tool for social inclusion which comprises various types of digital and non-digital resources and practices and can be used for social changes. Gamification has a great potential to be developed as a constant instrument for training and teaching people all around the world.

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