I have been taking a series of classes on Gamification of learning this summer. This has caused me to rethink many of my projects. One major redesign will happen with my budget project.
I use small projects that later combine into one big project. Everything leads to one final project incorporating all of the skills and work product already completed. My 7th Grade does a budget project where they create a virtual life for themselves. They find jobs and apartments and must create a monthly budget based on their expenses. They do many projects all year where they track the cost of various items that get applied to their monthly budget. Once they have a balanced monthly budget we play out 12 months of problems to see how their budget would survive.
There are some enhancements that game mechanics can add to this project (read as quest chain). First of all I think choice will make this work better. A reward for the completion of all the prerequisites can incentivize students to complete the project. Showing the progress towards that goal will also help them see what is left to complete. Perhaps even allowing for the choice of monthly problems could be an option.
I think enhancing this project with web 2.0 tools is another possibility. Allowing for a social or even a collaborative aspect to the project could lead to a better sense of understanding. This could even give an opportunity for peer feedback.
This will be a good first step towards this goal. The next step is finding a way to use a game to teach the same lessons that exist in the project.