Gamification is a buzzword. We’ve all heard about it and we’ve probably also heard of its benefits when implemented in certain processes. Learning is one of them.
But what is gamification, actually? And if we want to gamify learning, how and where do we start?
Let’s start with the fundamentals.
Gamification means applying game-elements and mechanics to real-world activities and challenges.
The fact that games do very well on engagement is proven by the enormous amount of hours people all around the world spend playing them. Having our learners as engaged as they are when playing during a training is most likely the highest aspiration we can aim at.
‘The Gamification of Learning and Instruction’ by Karl Kapp talks about right reasons and wrong reasons to create gamified experiences. We’ve totally encountered the validity of these reasons during our own experience and clarifying the reason behind is definitely the first step we need to do before deciding to embark on this endeavor.
If we want to create a gamified experience only because it’s fun/awesome/cool, we should stop. If we want to do it because everyone is doing it, then we shouldn’t. If we think gamified experiences are easy to design, we couldn’t be more wrong.
Another wrong reason to start gamifying learning is to believe that this will make learning effortless. Think of video games – think of how much they challenge your current skill-level and how frustrating it is to progress. Gamification will not make learning effortless – it will make it bearable to withstand the pain of growth.
Now that we’ve scratched these reasons off our list, Karl Kapp lists these reasons as the right ones to design gamified experiences:
Creating interactivity in learning delivery
Providing opportunities for deep thought and reflection
Positively change behaviour
Use case: creating a gamified tool for L&D/Training
To give you an idea how gamification in practice might look like, I’m going to briefly walk you through a few questions we went through when we designed Chambr, our tool that turns learning content into games:
What is the problem we’re trying to solve?
What are the learning objectives of this experience/tool?
What are the desired actions we want learners to do?
How will we know the learning objectives have been fulfilled? What specific behaviours/actions will illustrate that?
Who are the learners?
When & Where does the learning experience take place?
How often will the learners interact with the learning experience?
What devices/tools/materials will the learners need?
In our case, the problem we were trying to solve was lack of learner engagement & lack of learning stickiness.
We wanted to offer learners a safe context to practice, have learners better embed the learning content deriving from a training. These questions provided the foundation for creating Chambr and are also our guiding questions when we create anything that’s gamified, even learning board games.
If you choose to create a gamification learning experience yourself, the road ahead will surely be longer than what I’ve been able to encompass here, but it’s totally worth it!
‘The Gamification of Learning and Instruction’ by Karl Kapp is also packed with useful information and guidance and is niched on designing learning experiences. Jane McGonigal is also a world-renowned expert when it comes to harnessing the power of games to solve real-life problems. Watch her Ted Talk here.
We invite you to take a dive into gamification, get acquainted with its superpowers and start designing engaging experiences for your learners!