• Vol 9, No 7 (2018)
  • Mechanical Engineering

A Review of the Applicability of Gamification and Game-based Learning to Improve Household-level Waste Management Practices among Schoolchildren

Malida Magista, Bella Lexmita Dorra, Thye Yoke Pean

Cite this article as:
Magista, M., Dorra, B.L., Pean, T.Y., 2018. A Review of the Applicability of Gamification and Game-based Learning to Improve Household-level Waste Management Practices among Schoolchildren . International Journal of Technology. Volume 9(7), pp. 1439-1449
Malida Magista Programs Team, WISE–WASH in Southeast Asia, Komp. OPI Jl. Bali IV AX No. 21, 15 Ulu, Seberang Ulu 1, Kota Palembang, Sumatera Selatan 30257, Indonesia
Bella Lexmita Dorra Programs Team, WISE–WASH in Southeast Asia, Komp. OPI Jl. Bali IV AX No. 21, 15 Ulu, Seberang Ulu 1, Kota Palembang, Sumatera Selatan 30257, Indonesia
Thye Yoke Pean Core Team, WISE–WASH in Southeast Asia, 96 Jalan Leban 577628, Singapore
Email to Corresponding Author


Knowledge strongly affects attitudes toward waste management; thus, embedding an environmental mentality at a young age is crucial. Game-based interventions, such as gamification and game-based learning, have huge potential to be effective learning tools. This paper examines the potential of gamification to improve waste management practices among schoolchildren through a narrative review of 25 papers on gamification for waste management and gamification for schoolchildren. The effectiveness of game-based learning and gamification in mitigating waste management issues with schoolchildren has not yet been well-described in the literature; however, the evolving market in related sectors is a strong indication of their potential. A robust understanding of social and behavioral theories is necessary for implementing gamification and game-based learning effectively. Additionally, the game elements, design, and mechanics that can achieve the most positive impacts should be explored further. It is hoped that this study will contribute to the body of knowledge in the environmental sector on gamification as an innovative process for improving household-level waste management behavior among schoolchildren.

Gamification; Game-based learning; Recycling; Schoolchildren; Waste management


1.1.    Municipal Solid Waste

Waste is generated from household, industrial, and commercial activities. Municipal solid waste (MSW) refers to everyday items that people use and then throw away. Globally generated MSW is predicted to rise to 2.2 billion tons by 2025, with the generation rate increasing faster than the urbanization rate. MSW is not well-managed, especially in low- and middle-income countries (Hoornweg & Bhada-Tata, 2012; World Bank, 2018).

Waste in households can be managed through the 3Rs: reducing waste (e.g. purchasing items with less packaging), reusing items (e.g. reusing old clothing as rags), and recycling (e.g. paper; NEA, 2018). These practices can be improved. A report from the European Environmental Bureau & Eunomia (2017) found that household recycling rates in the top ten countries ranged from 45.8% to 57.0%. In Indonesia, the national recycling rate is 2% (Sekito et al., 2013).

Individuals’ awareness of  and  behaviors towards  waste management practices  play important roles in improving household waste management. Knowledge strongly affects attitudes towards waste management (Dung et al., 2017). Embedding an environmental mentality from a young age is crucial, as is enabling proper awareness in school settings (Licy et al., 2013). For example, school programs in Singapore include workshops on environmental issues and advocacy skills; networks of teachers who plan, coordinate, and implement environment programs; and trainings for cub scouts and brownies on topics like the 3Rs (Clean & Green Singapore, 2018).

1.2.    Game-based Learning and Gamification

Game-based interventions can be effective for learning. Computer and video games are significant in the entertainment industry, having experienced rapid growth and success over the past few decades. The gaming market has 2.2 billion consumers across a wide range of ages (ESA, 2017). In 2017, gaming revenue in the United States (US) was three times higher than that of the movie industry (Nath, 2016; ESA, 2018). In fact, 65% of households in the US have at least one family member who plays games at least three hours a week (Newzoo, 2017). It is unsurprising, then, that Prensky (2003) believed that motivation for learning could be rekindled by inserting educational content into a game. Indeed, Katsaliaki and Mustafee (2015) stated that games are a great alternative for teaching, training, and entertainment (edutainment or educational entertainment), leading to positive learning outcomes.

1.2.1.  Game-based learning

Game-based learning (GBL) delivers information and knowledge through the medium of play. A game-based approach is expected to improve user engagement with designed information and knowledge (Felicia, 2014). GBL products have been demonstrated in numerous subjects, such as business, engineering, economy, and politics (Pivec et al., 2003). GBL approaches have also been widely used environmental education. Juan and Chao (2015) implemented a green building strategy game for architecture major students, while Ye et al. (2007) designed an educational game to improve awareness of water, waste, and land problems.

1.2.2.  Gamification

Besides GBL, game-inspired approaches like gamification have also gained attention. Gamification is known for its ability to educate people in all kinds of sectors. As an emerging concept, gamification still lacks a clear definition (Kapp et al., 2013; Matallaoui et al., 2017). It has been described as the utilization of game design elements for non-game settings (Deterding et al., 2011), involving the insertion of game features like users, challenges, scores, levels, badges, and rankings (Kiryakova et al., 2014) into a game to achieve a certain goal (Duggan & Shoup, 2013). The popularity of gamification has been demonstrated in many sectors, such as commerce, the environment, education, and medicine. It has been successful in increasing people’s engagement and the success of an intervention (Licy et al., 2013).

Gamification was first developed in 2002 for the gaming industry through Xbox Live, an online game and media delivery service (Webley & Cham, 2016). This success was followed by the use of gamification to address social and environmental challenges, for example, by helping schoolchildren become more active and motivated in learning (Kiryakova et al., 2014).

1.2.3. Game-based learning versus gamification

GBL and gamification share similarities, yet they have distinct concepts and purposes. GBL utilizes actual games to deliver knowledge and skills, such that people learn while engaging in a game activity. On the other hand, gamification merely applies game elements to the design of activities or interventions. In gamification, people participate in an activity embedded with game elements, such as receiving badges for completing a task (Kapp et al., 2013).


1.3.    Objective

The effectiveness of GBL and gamification has been demonstrated in numerous sectors (Pivec et al., 2003). However, few studies have considered household waste management. This paper aims to fill this gap by examining the potential of gamification to improve waste management practices among schoolchildren through a review of gamification in related settings: gamification to promote waste management and gamification for schoolchildren.



The effectiveness of GBL and gamification in addressing waste management issues among schoolchildren has not been well described in the literature. Observed benefits are limited to short-term outcomes and usability evaluations, neglecting long-term impacts on awareness and behavior. However, the evolving market in GBL and gamification in related applications is a strong indication of their potential as an approach to promote household waste management practices, such as reducing waste produced, reusing items for similar or new purposes, and recycling.

Implementing effective GBL and gamification that is appropriate for schoolchildren and for addressing waste management issues demands a robust understanding of social and behavioral theories. Additionally, the game elements, designs, and mechanics that can achieve the most positive impacts should be explored further. It is hoped that this study will contribute to the body of knowledge in the environmental sector on gamification as an innovative process for improving household-level waste management behaviors among schoolchildren. 

Supplementary Material
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