Impact on Executive Dysfunctions of Gamification and Nongamification in Playing Board Games in Children at Risk of Social Exclusion
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Objective: Modern board and card game-based cognitive interventions and gamification practices showed effectiveness in boosting executive functions and decreasing behavioral problems in children. However, the combination of both game-based methods has not been tested. So, the main aim of this study was to test the effectiveness of gamification in modern board and card game-based cognitive intervention in Spanish school children at risk of social exclusion. Materials and methods: In this multicenter single-blind study with a quasi-experimental design, 176 schoolers (6-13 years old) were assigned to a gamified group (with a narrative context and a rewarding system) and 107 to a non-gamified group (with no narrative context or rewarding system). The interventions were implemented in regular classes. Behavioral executive dysfunctions were assessed by BRIEF-2 (Teacher form) pre- and post-intervention. Results: We found significant time effects in all BRIEF-2 domains with small and medium effect sizes (d=-.35 to d=-.62). The non-gamified group showed significantly higher decreases in all measures than those who used gamification. Conclusion: It is possible that playing for the joy of playing in the non-gamified group was enough motivation to focus on the task while adding gamification elements did not favor the greater effectiveness of the program.