Gamification and Professor Rodrigo de Araujo (Pirapora’s Baron)


Gamification is applying the science and psychology of gaming in a non-game context to motivate and reward your audience to perform certainBarao do pirapora the gang desired behaviors. It is one of the most proven ways to engage online community members and keep their interest in your content.

Who uses gamification?

Netflix, Microsoft, Apple, Google, Nike, Starbucks, Coca Cola, … basically … “everyone”!

Even you! … Enjoy that cool Netflix menu when selecting a movie to watch? … you have been “gamified!”

The reason video games are so successful, it’s because it gives you a sense of reward, for example: when you save the princes, or achieve a goal inside the video game world.

So… what if you could engage an audience to a sense of reward to … let’s say a accounting software?

That would be cool; it would make people like a accounting software, and sales and satisfaction with that program would rate very well.

With the revolution of mobile smartphones changing the world, gamification is becoming a super tool to stay alive and competitive in the multi-industry market.

I had the pleasure of interviewing a friend that was recognized and winner of the “Microsoft Innovators Award, 2013 BrazilRodrigo de


Rodrigo Araujo Microsoft


Rodrigo and his team traveled to Prague, Czechia, to participate in another related event.

In Brazil as a history, and geography professor, Rodrigo is also recognized for the gamification of the class room, where he teaches students of all ages about the importance of gamification.

He uses and instruct strategies such as letting young students build a game to tell the history about their home land, this engages the youngsters way beyond boring history classes.

I worked with Rodrigo building a video game called Bruce the super ninja, and was very impressed with his talents and dedication. I developed the project, the program code, the story, and he contributed with characters and level creations, and level design.

My interview with Rodrigo:

1 – Why the name Pirapora’s Baron?

Rodrigo Araujo Professor

Rodrigo Araujo Professor

When I was a University student in the city of Sorocaba-SP, graduating in History, I completed my internship at the Nucleus of Environmental Studies, where one of my main functions was to draw maps and map rivers from the region. On the occasion, around 1995, I mapped the Pirapora River that bathes the city where I live, Piedade-SP, and I registered everything for future research on the influence of the river Pirapora on the riverside communities, observing everything from customs, traditions , to lost cultures such as legends, hauntings and other curiosities. Which raised great knowledge of the formation of the people of my city. On one occasion, in the middle of Easter, during the Saturday of Hallelujah of 1996, at that time I became a guide of caves in the State Park of Upper Ribeira – PETAR, located in the rural area of Iporanga-SP, I guided a group of Biology students to One of the caves of the Park and on the way, I told them about my adventures on the Pirapora River, and they called me “Mestre do Pirapora” because I was a History Teacher at the time.

When we finished the walk, we went to have a beer at JJ’s Bar, a symbolic bar in the park, and the students said that I was the “master of Pirapora”, a hippie who was on the spot, made an intervention and observed that because of my clothes (Hat, jacket and boot to the knee), I was not a Master, but rather, “Barão do Pirapora”. This nickname was inspiring and I began to use it as a stage name, just as I started producing the first animations and games.

2 – Tell us your story, describing who you are.

I’m Rodrigo Ayres de Araújo, the Barão do Pirapora.

Rodrigo Araujo Gamification

Rodrigo Araujo Gamification

I am a graduate in History, I have a Master’s Degree in Social History and Post-Graduation in Programming and Production of Games by SENAC.
I have about 23 years as professor of History and Geography, in public and private schools in São Paulo and Santa Catarina. I have 10 years of experience with Cultural Workshops, with environmental and cultural NGOs.

I am a producer of animation shorts and games awarded at Festivals.

I have been Coordinator of the Family School and Cultural Coordinator of Piedade-SP.
I am known for the use of Technologies in education, with the use of games, animations and comics produced exclusively for students. My productions, which are History cartoons, are aimed at educators and are available free of charge over the internet and are used by teachers and NGOs from all Brazilian states.
I already have prizes in games like E-games and Games for Change 2011.

With the Biodiversity Amazon and in the Creative Currencies of Knowledge City at USP.

I was the winner of the “Learn and Teach” awards of Banco do Brasil and the “Microsoft Innovators in Innovation” award, 2012 in the category Innovation in Content, with the project “Gamefication of Sorocaba”, and was a finalist of the Professors of Brazil award in 2015.

3 – How did the interest in video games appear, and from where came the idea of joining history studies, and video games?

Barao do Pirapora cartoonsI’ve never had an Atari. One of the first video games to become an icon of the ’80s. Not because I did not like it, but my interests at the time were about spending hours drawing comics. But my school life was like a game. I was born when the Geisel Government started the nuclear investments and Brazil began the political opening, the son of teachers of History and Biology; My first phase was to go through school life trying to win design contests and increase my creativity more and more. I reached adolescence with a series of awards as a draftsman and I realized that my scripts would be more enriched if I knew better the History, Culture and Politics of our country. At the time, I had influences from Belgian cartoonists, from the Brussels School, like René Goscciny and Albert Uderzo, the creators of Asterix, besides approaching Brazilian cartoonists such as Angeli, Glauco and Laerte. I decided to do Faculty of History.

Barao do Pirapora Live long

Barao do Pirapora Live long

In the years that followed, I started to produce comics to teach history, and I realized how important this was in the Teaching-Learning process, I used the mimeograph and produced a lot of drawing about Tiradentes, D. Pedro, Getúio. I noticed in the children’s eyes that it could go further, that it would be important for them to start researching to produce as well. This notion of juvenile protagonism motivated to develop cultural comic workshops by the state of São Paulo, was the “Municipalization of Comics”, where the students researched the History of the Municipality and reproduced in the comics. This practice has led me to more than twenty cities in the interior of São Paulo. Until I stopped in Ilhabela-SP, and stayed there for two years teaching.

I started my career in 1994, produced my own comics to teach, then started to give cultural workshops, where I taught students to produce their own comics based on Stories of Municipalities in more than 20 cities in São Paulo. This idea of youthful protagonism that would later inspire me to develop the project that would make me a pioneer. Finally, it was on a sunny morning in Ilhabela-SP, in 2004, that I was with 5th grade students and, a little frustrated by their lack of interest and difficulty in relation to their studies of history. It seemed that they were no longer interested in comics. Something was different. Then I asked a student what he liked to do, he told me that he was playing video games. He said he played Final Fantasy and surprised me by telling me the details of a game that is a Japanese RPG with a complex story and language where he knew all the secrets of the characters and places in the game. I asked: How do you know so much about Final Fantasy that you have a difficult story and can you learn our history that you are part of? He replied, “Because it’s more fun.” That was when I woke up, or rather gave me a “start” and I saw that the games could serve as a very important and innovative pedagogical tool.

I spent the years thinking about putting this technology into practice. And it was in 2006 in the city of Timbó in Santa Catarina, that I used a game in the classroom, for the first time, it was a virtual tour through Avenida Paulista in 1919, produced by Itaú Cultural. The result was stunning. I started to dedicate myself to the new tools, like the Datashow, and from there, it was a step to develop the first cartoons to teach. Thus, in 2007 I created the series “Navegantes”, where I make available for free by youtube and that is used by teachers of the whole country.
But my goal was to produce games to teach. But, my own trajectory taught me that the use of games in the classroom was not enough. I needed to put the students as protagonists. They needed to create the games themselves, from content and research. And more than that, they needed to integrate cultural identity as a brand of production. I did a postgraduate degree in the area of games and in 2012 I finally got it put into practice. I created a project called Gamification of Sorocaba. Where in a Municipal School of Sorocaba I gathered four classes of 9th year, where they produced four games. With the environmental theme, through a meeting of researches, videos and drawings that resulted in a fun and informative educational game. All this was possible with an organization of division of tasks and extra classes accompaniment and through Social Networks.

4 – How important is gamification in the education industry?

Many students view technology in the classroom as a joke, associate computing as a social network, but they need to realize that these technologies are important teaching tools. Gradually many students are realizing that technology is allied to the teaching-learning process. The production of games is not easy and needs dedication and responsibility. The youth protagonist is linked to the rational and conscious use of the internet and the pedagogical resources that technology has to offer us.

The current generation of children and young people requires a change in the education system. This change was already to take place in 2012. There by 2006, I even used commercial games to teach, it serves as a tool if explored in a pedagogical way. And this awakens students’ interest in knowledge. As for the educational games, they did not cause the same enthusiasm, but if we work the content with them is always welcome and will bring good results. I advocate the creation of games by the students themselves and teachers, but while that is not possible, I suggest using educational games produced recently through educational portals. The tools are strategically produced for learning and would avoid any problems with the educational managers.

Barao do pirapora gamification award

Barao do pirapora gamification award

The Gamification model I propose is to stimulate creativity, collaborative and cooperative work, entrepreneurship and youth protagonist, awakening the critical sense of social justice and sustainable and technological awareness, it is not competitiveness or meritocracy. On the contrary, it is to develop the spirit of organized civil society and micro enterprises that create dreams into reality. Only then will it be revolutionary, if it is the other way round, if you use a business simulation model, it will be nothing more than a wave. What I propose is something solid, basic, that will take years to be overturned, which is the technology allied with our cultural identity.

The construction of knowledge through interactivity with the objective of a production broadens the perception and approaches the mechanisms of production to the mold of the companies. Students learn to work as a team and the development of youth protagonist open up possibilities for new concepts. Students come to understand the importance of subject studies because of the proposed objectives. For example, in building a game based on a particular subject, such as his own city, first, in constructing the script and level design, he conceives of cultural heritage and identity as he studies the city’s history, geographical boundaries, The sociological and anthropological, political issues. When passing production and understanding the concept of programming, students are witnesses to the importance of Physics and Mathematics.

6 – Choose one of the video games that you made, and comment about the game, is it available for download?

The last educational game I produced is about the Farroupilha Revolution that took place between 1835 and 1845 in southern Brazil, it is an adventure game, didactic and explains the Revolution, from beginning to end. Strategically is produced for teachers to use in the classroom, or even the practice of the inverted classroom, where the student plays the game in the house and comes to school to answer the questions.

Walkthrough of Game Farroupilha
Game Play and Author Comment:
Link to online game (HTML):
Download link for windows:


7 – What are the plans for the future, and what advice would you give the audience

Rodrigo Green Games

Rodrigo Green Games

My plans for the future is to implement this practice in a broader way to align Education 3.0 models in the state and federal spheres in Brazil, for the time being I do not have the resources to expand the dissemination, I continue to teach in Public School of the State of São Paulo, Producing some different projects that try to adapt to the realities of schools. My goal was to act as a trainer and help teachers and students of Brazil this methodology.

Gamification of Education is a gradual process of building the interactivity of the discipline with students. It is to propose a mechanism of knowledge construction from the challenge with elements and characteristics of a game. Therefore it is possible to gamify without the use of technology. The proposal of Gamification of Pedagogy is to put the student as protagonist of the process of production of this interactivity. The student is builder of own knowledge based on the project of producing a Game or a software or even a board game. The idea is to seek alternatives for students to build this knowledge from the adaptation of their research with cultural production objectives.

The game is a tool. I produce some to illustrate the lesson better. But the gamification projects I propose are the students who produce the game.


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