Tips for Best Practice in Gamification

Why, now more than ever, gamification is the future of learning

Games and gamification of learning have been around for centuries. Following the rapid development of our understanding of learning methodologies, human characteristics and, most recently, effective learning technologies, we are now well placed to bring gamification into the forefront of learning initiatives.

Before we explore gamification in more depth it is important to clarify that gamification does not refer only to games that millennials play on handheld devices. This is far from the truth. Broadly speaking, gamification is the act of using game-based mechanics, aesthetics and game thinking in non-game contexts, for example in learning.

Challenges, exploration, competition, storytelling, rewards, badges, user interface, points, levels, progress, leader boards, time constraints, achievements are all examples of gamification elements.

Games date back to the ancient human past. Gamification is one of the oldest forms of human social interaction. Yet, even back in the old days, games often had a serious purpose. This is often to engage people, motivate action, promote learning and help solve problems.

As humans, our ability to play is very powerful. The reason we are so attracted to games is that they fulfill key human desires, such as making us feel successful and competent, autonomous and redoing something that matters to others. Games can provide a safe platform for satisfying our need to display competence, give us freedom of choice and allow us to interact with peers in new and interesting ways. In this sense, games are an alibi for interaction.

In organisational contexts, serious games are used to practice business skills and acquire business acumen. Using games in business contexts has been done for decades, for example through simulations, in which people get to practice critical skills in a safe environment. Companies use games as a means of training people since the characteristics and benefits of games help mobilize people.

Games and simulations can get close to reality, and if well designed, create engagement and motivation – leading to people being more receptive to learning.

Also, as games involve people, participants of business games are likely to get a sense of ownership for the new knowledge. With active involvement, people getting to involve their hands, hearts and minds, learning is reinforced and hence, change is much more likely to happen.

Active involvement is also a critical enabler when it comes to prevent people from forgetting. The stronger the memory and the experience during which we were presented with the new info, the less likely we are to forget.

Business games improve business performance as they give good opportunities to clarify cause and effect chains, identify and investigate business potentials.

Serious Games also offer possibilities to practice pulling the right levers – that can be applied on the job afterwards. Business games offer participants good opportunities to develop their inner compass for decision-making – a crucial skill for managers and leaders today.

Taking all these factors into consideration, it really does feel like the time is right to take the use of gamification to the next level. We have a new generation of people who are tech savvy, keen to learn but disengaging with traditional methods of learning.

Bite-sized, gamified learning, delivered in a variety of ways – both digitally and face-to-face– with a strong social element is surely the way to further enhance our ability to harness the power of learning. When you need serious learning results, it’s time to turn to serious fun.

Celemis Tips for best practice in Gamification:

G

Goal Link games to business goals.

Use gamification to achieve business goals. Games are entertaining, but you have a cause – you want to use gamification to support relevant and key content that you wish to convey to learners in your organization.

And, as usual, it is key to define success before you undertake your project.

A

Attractive Make the platform visually attractive.

Attractive does not mean complex. Complexity may be treacherous.

Allow for some personalization; learners enjoy creating avatars to personalize their experience.  The leaderboard design is key; it should be easy to spot your ranking immediately and should be refreshed directly.

M

Mastery Focus on mastery of the content.

Your content is key. Think of your initiative as a learning journey. Start early, by creating buzz. Get the word out and get employees on board – create anticipation and motivation.

To help your learners engage with particularly important content, you can entice them by using special rewards.

I

Interesting Use an interesting format for engaging with content.

Prevent tediousness…by designing your gamification initiative carefully, making sure the content is relevant, helping learners connect and interact. Build in surprises.

F

Feedback Provide instant feedback.

Instant gratification and feedback helps people learn and is, hence, crucial.

Build in continuous feedback – so that learners get the chance to process information. Feedback also helps them know that they are on the right track.

I

Interactive Bring interactive, social elements into the gaming environment.

Various types of players are attracted to various types of design. Build in elements to delight or surprise users.

Let learners be social – games tend to be social experiences – so that they learn from each other, and together. Make it easy to search for other users.

C

Challenge Allow people to challenge themselves and those around them.

The leaderboards allow learners to see their positions and compare themselves to others. This strongly motivates some kinds of players. Just remember that not everyone adores being in the limelight.

Some companies have their employees use code names, so that they don’t have to reveal their achievements to everyone.

A

Attainments Acknowledge good performance with rewards, badges, et.c

In general, people like collecting badges and likes to show them, too. Apart from offering players badges when they succeed in attaining goals or accumulate an amount of points – you can let players display their badges somewhere – for example a virtual showroom.

T

Teams Group individuals into teams to build collaboration.

As mentioned, games are – in general – social experiences. Allow participants to collaborate, integrate and interact. People learn when achieving together.

I

Integrate Align game content with broader training strategy.

Make sure your initiative ties into your overall business objectives and learning goals.

O

Open Allow freedom to fail.

Failure does not need to be frowned upon. On the contrary, it is a good idea to make failure a part of the game. E.g. feedback when failing can be positive so that the learner instead feels that failure leads him/her forward in his/her learning – s/he gets a chance to reinforce knowledge.

N

Numbers Use points, ranking & leaderboards…and levels to build fun competition.

Levels are excellent for learning journeys. To advance, one needs to complete one level and so on. Instructional game designers should guide learners by making sure levels are related to learning objectives.