Despite the buzz around gamification as an exciting new method to engage students, evidence of its ability to enhance learning is mixed. In fact, gamification has attracted considerable controversy (“gamification is bullshit”) and some derogatory labels such as “exploitationware.” Therefore, in order to make the case for or against gamification in education, it is important to examine the effects (if any) of gamification on student learning achievements. This study is a meta-analysis of 30 independent interventions (3,202 participants) drawn from 24 quantitative studies that have examined the effects of gamification on student academic performance in various educational settings. The results show an overall significant medium effect size in favor of gamification over learning without gamification (Hedges' g = 0.504, 95% CI [0.284–0.723], p < 0.001). No publication bias is detected. An analysis of 32 qualitative studies reveals four reasons for learners' enjoyment of gamification: (a) gamification can foster enthusiasm; (b) gamification can provide feedback on performance; (c) gamification can fulfill learners’ needs for recognition; and (d) gamification can promote goal setting, and two reasons for their dislike of gamification: (a) gamification does not bring additional utility and (b) gamification can cause anxiety or jealousy. We conclude by highlighting two unresolved questions, and suggesting several future research directions concerning gamification in educational contexts. Copyright © 2020 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.