What's the Latest Development?

Gamification, where games' fundamental principles of incentivisation—such as rewarding success, removing the sting from failure—are applied to other pastimes, has its dark side: who hasn't bought two of a product they rarely use just because it was on special offer? But that's no reason not to harness these ideas for good: for example, in education policy. In fact, it's already happening, though not without critics who see it as just more dumbing-down.

What's the Big Idea?

Like it or not, says Helen Lewis-Hasteley, most children find their Nintendo, PlayStation or mobile phone an irresistible draw. "So, instead of regarding games as a distraction from more serious fare, how about trying to combine the two? Even if you can't give your child a gameful education, you can at least encourage them to play educational games. And it'll put those hyper-developed thumbs to good use." She provides links to five educational games.