We live in an increasingly gamified world where many of our daily interactions involve some level of achievement, points, or rewards. It’s a great way to get people engaged in different activities and reward them for their time, attention, and effort. Organizations are increasingly recognizing the value gamification can play in driving learning adoption and engagement. To get it right, however, takes a bit more thought than simply posting a leaderboard or launching an arcade game. For games to have an impact, they must be taken seriously and leveraged in the right way.

L&D teams need to be purposeful with the kind of games they select and how they implement them. Games need to be aligned with the behaviors and outcomes expected from the learning. It is also important to understand your learning audience. Some audiences are more driven by competition than others. In these environments, points and leaderboards can be effective. For others, the focus may need to be more around leveling up or some kind of reward. It is important to provide the correct incentives to achieve the desired outcomes.

A big part of getting it right is understanding some of the nuances involved. There are two approaches when it comes to gamification in learning. First, there is the practice of adding gamification elements to existing learning content. This can include awarding points for completing certain steps, publishing a leaderboard for learners to compare progress, or providing badges or achievements for “leveling up.” The second approach is game-based learning, where the learning occurs as the learner plays an actual game. These could be as simple as a word search or a matching exercise or as complex as an action-based video game.

Both approaches are effective and have their own use cases. In either case, understanding the impact game mechanics can have as a learning tool is important to ensure they are being used properly. Not only can they provide a contrast to more formal, traditional eLearning content, but games are also more closely and clearly tied to specific learning objectives, making them more relevant and contextual.

Join me for a Brandon Hall Group webinar where I will be joined by Isobel Wallace, General Manager of Thinking Cap to discuss the benefits of gamification, the role it can play in learning, and strategies for implementation. We plan to explore the benefits of gamification, as well as some of the pitfalls and ways to avoid them. We will provide strategies for implementing games to ensure they are having the most impact.

David Wentworth

David Wentworth has been a senior research analyst in the human capital field since 2005 and joined the Brandon Hall Group in 2013. He has authored reports and articles on various human capital subjects with an emphasis on workforce technology. He has contributed to several reports published by ASTD, including authoring Mobile Learning: Learning in the Palm of Your Hand, The Rise of Social Media: Enhancing Collaboration and Productivity Across Generations, and Instructional Systems Design Today and in the Future. His work has also appeared in Compensation & Benefits Review and T+D Magazine.