Gamification is more than just a buzzword in the corporate training circles. It is a strategy that applies game mechanics and gameplay elements to the learning content for engaging learners and thereby turning the entire learning process into a game.
Popular training strategy
This training strategy has been gaining ground with the human resources department for the past 4-5 years. To keep the employee engaged and reach the objectives, HR has been using the digital environment.
Gamification works since employees are inherently motivated to complete the game and win rewards in return. This is popular with employees as it provides them with the confidence to complete the task and increase their capability. This also serves as a safe method to fail and try again without having to worry about negative feedback from colleagues. The game provides them with immediate and positive feedback about their performance.
Key gamified elements
Games can be fun, but they are often business-oriented. Some of them view it as a technology that modifies behavior using technology.
GaGamification can be effective if the following key elements are included in the gamified learning strategy:
- Game levels or learning paths
- Challenges or learning goals
- Instant feedback on progress
- Badges for achieving important milestones
- Scores for learner accomplishment
- Competition to assess skill level against others
- Leader board to help analyze overall performance
Gamification psychology through behavioral change
Gamification has always been associated with behavior modification and motivational activities. It is in use in a variety of industries from customer service training topics to insurance, and different settings from classrooms to workplaces.
To make it more effective organizations need to make gamification into a highly personalized experience. This can be done only if the learner’s personality, habits, emotions, and activities are fully understood. The goal of gamification should be to offer an experience that is unique and thereby establish a connection with each learner.
From the perspective of behavioral change, organizations need to consider the following factors:
- Task completion: The focus of the game should be on the user’s ability to complete a task. This is crucial to determine the effectiveness of the gamification strategy. Providing training to the users should improve the skill levels and help them complete a task.
- Extrinsic motivation: Activities that are difficult to complete in a sequence of activities normally require extrinsic motivation (external rewards). Other activities need careful thought in terms of intrinsic motivators and how they can be used to change behavior.
- Long-term engagement: Since behavioral change calls for long term engagement, regular checkpoints need to be in place. This is needed to ensure the learning experience is continuous and seamless. This checkpoint also helps reset goals and motivation based on the data available.
- Activity with rewards: A recurring activity should offer different types of rewards, whereas a one-time activity like completion can offer simpler rewards. The motivators, rewards, and goals depend on the type of activity completed.
Gives Them A View Of The Real World
In the real world, each action a person takes has a consequence. Because gamification is usually designed to simulate practical, real-life scenarios, it helps to cement skills by letting learners apply them in a safe, virtual space where a mistake will lead to a negative consequence, like loss of points or levelling down, while a correct action will give them rewards, like levelling up and badges. Employees learn to understand that their real-life actions will have real-life consequences too. This is a carrot-and-stick analogy that forms the very basis of learning.
Makes Them Competitive
Human beings have a desire to compete, both with themselves, as well as with others, and win. Gamification fuels this desire, and teaches employees to be competitive, a quality that is a requisite in corporate organizations. By showing learners their own statistics, gamified eLearning courses motivate them to beat their personal bests and push themselves further and harder. Leaderboards, on the other hand, teach healthy competition with colleagues.
Teaches Them Teamwork and Collaboration
Being too competitive, however, especially with one’s teammates can be a problem, and thus gamified eLearning courses usually include activities where winning is impossible without teamwork, in order to keep the spirit of competition in check. Teamwork and collaboration are necessary qualities for one’s success in the corporate world and reinforcing these will go a long way by transforming learners into efficient and productive employees.
Gives Them Freedom To Explore
Curiosity is another one of the basest driving instincts in human beings. By giving learners the freedom to make multiple choices, the consequences of which they might not know, gamified eLearning courses intrigue learners. Every choice they make helps them learn something, which is the whole point. In a way, it is teaching learners to explore their options in real life and be curious about learning new things.
Teaches Them About Rules
We live in a world which has a number of social constructs, like laws and rules. Following these laws and rules help us to be productive members of society. Different environments have different rules of different magnitude, for example, answering your phone in the middle of a meeting will be, at best, frowned upon and repeatedly will likely get you fired. Gamified eLearning courses make the use of rules too, and different environments can have different rules. This teaches employees to be aware of what they are doing and where they are doing it at all times.
Using gamification has lead many companies towards success as it works on the very principles of how human beings learn. However, it depends completely on how it is applied and on the context. It is not a magic pill and there are a number of gamified eLearning projects that fail. The better the research, planning and implementation, the more likely organizations are to get positive results.
The following are the most important benefits of gamification strategy:
- Learning becomes fun, interactive: Regardless of the subject matter or audience, gamification can help create exciting and entertaining content. The work may not turn into a game, but it uses the same gamification psychology that drives human engagement. The rewards of completion can be very satisfying and motivating. More the interactivity, the greater the chances of the learner finding the game informative and exciting. With the introduction of role-playing, and other competitive elements, such as leader board and badges, the game can be made immersive and fun.
- Improves retention: Any training hopes to teach new skills or knowledge. But the training is useless if the knowledge learned cannot be retained by the learner. Another important benefit of gamification is that the learner can retain and recall the knowledge. The science behind this is – dopamine – the chemical released by the human brain when a learner wins a game or achieve something important, making him or her feel good. Increased level of dopamine helps a learner retain new information for longer periods.
- Application of skill on the job: Another benefit of gamification is that the learner gets the opportunity to apply the skill learned in a real-world application. The best way to cement skills is to apply the knowledge in practical scenarios. Gamification allows learners to view the practical application of knowledge and benefits of the subject matter. The choices made within the game provide them a first-hand view of the consequence and rewards.
- Real-time feedback: Gamification of learning enables learners to work towards measurable, real-time, meaningful targets and receive feedback when the targets are achieved. Feedback is an important aspect of upskilling.
Gamification makes learning more fun, which makes it likely for them to be more engaged with the program.