Gamification is a layer you add on top of an activity/subject to make learners have more interest on the subject.
This means that this is only relevant for tasks that provide low intrinsic motivation.
Let me expand on this.
Tasks with high intrinsic motivation
These are tasks you are willing to do, or even pay to do them. Driving a car is such an activity: most people take pleasure from driving, even though the main goal of driving is transporting you front point A to point B.
Tasks with low intrinsic motivation
These are tasks that you have to do, but you are not motivate to do so. Image doing the laundry: you hate to, but you must do it.
The same applies to learning maths, physics. If the materials are exposed in a dull way, and you don't see how you can use them, or why they are interesting by themselves, then studying these materials is a task without intrinsic motivation.
Context is everything. What some people find motivating, other might not. Also, the context is also relevant:
- If you are required to learn tangents, cosines and all that trigonometry, learning those subjects will have low intrinsic motivation, but
- If you have to learn trig in order to implement a game and make your character turn, then you'll be motivated to learn it.
Benefits of gamification
With this, you can see that gamification will make tasks that are usually dull become interesting, not because of the task itself, but because of an additional motivation layer you have developed.
This can be interesting for educational content for example between the ages of 6-14. Since most of the kids are not interested in learning maths and physics, you can try to add a layer of interest and hope that when that have learned enough, they can start appreciating the subject even when you remove the gamification layer.
Drawbacks of gamification
I can think of a few problems with this:
- Your students might enjoy the gamification system so much that they'll cheat to get more points, badges, ... This defeats the purpose of learning for mastering a subject.
- If you can't show that studying maths and physics is rewarding by itself, students will continue despising the task, which was not what you intend.
- If there is a great gap between high-performant and low-performant students, the latter might stop trying at all.