As gamification grows in popularity, there has been increased interest in its potential as a motivating and engaging learning strategy. Yet, it is still a controversial issue in education and has received several criticisms. The existing literature suggests that when gamification is designed well and utilized correctly, it has potential to improve learning, but qualitative investigations are required in order to reveal how a wide range of game elements fit into different learning contexts. In order to address this gap, this qualitative study aims to explore students' overall perceptions about various game elements in a gamified instructional technology and material development course within a teacher education context. Based on the data gathered via interviews, observation, and documents (n = 118) for one academic year, the study examines possible impacts of game elements and how they should be designed and implemented from the students' perspectives. The results yielded nine main themes: challenge, narrative, leaderboard, reward, badge, teams, win-state, points, and constraints. This paper presents the gamification process, iterations made into the game elements, and main features of the game elements in a gamified teacher education course. (C) 2017 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.