Ethical Challenges in Gamified Education Research and Development: An Umbrella Review and Potential Directions

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Gamification is a technological, economic, cultural, and societal development toward promoting a more game-like reality. As this emergent phenomenon has been gradually consolidated into our daily lives, especially in educational settings, many scholars and practitioners face a major challenge ahead: how to understand and mitigate the unethical impacts of gamification when researching and developing such educational technologies? Thus, this study explores ethical challenges in gamified educational applications and proposes potential solutions to address them based on an umbrella review. After analysing secondary studies, this study details and proposes recommendations on addressing some ethical challenges in gamified education, such as power dynamics and paternalism, lack of voluntarity and confidentiality, cognitive manipulation, and social comparison. Research and development decision-making processes affected by such challenges are also elaborated, and potential actions to mitigate their effects in gamification planning, conducting and communication are further introduced. Thus, this chapter provides an understanding of ethical challenges posed by the literature in gamified education and a set of guidelines for future research and development.

Ryan Watkins