Why Gamification Works for Training
Whether you are using a Gamified Learning system or a Game-Based Learning instead, mechanics of a game are what builds those systems and make them work to drive engagement from the trainee/users. But as time goes by, many begin to realize that gamification doesn’t simply mean using the PBL (Points/Badges/Leaderboards) and be done with it. In fact, most of the time, if you don’t properly use it, albeit it might make way for some benefits. Even odds are it could backfire and become the opposite of what you’d want that system to do for you. This article will aim to provide some new mechanics that could be equally—if not more so—effective than simple PBL.
What makes gamification work in the first place
With differing subjects, one shouldn’t assume that a basic gamification with simple PBL would work. PBL would usually help, yes, but only in a situation where you’ve already grasped what basic gamification can do for you and/or your trainees. First, we take a step back and learn why this works. More than often gamification works due to the following points:
Gives instant feedback
Essentially, when we are taught to be doing something, we would want to know if we’re doing well or not. In this regard, people often confuse the use of points as rewards instead of a mean to give feedback. If your trainee gets the same amount of points no matter what they do, there wouldn’t be any merit to even be earning them. Instead, when a trainee does well they should get more points than when they fail at something. From this fundamental view, only eventually will more points seem like a reward.
Another way of using points for this is using it as a measurement where if you have enough points, then you’d earn more stars for example.
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Has a clear sense of progression
Badges, Experience Points, Objectives, and Levels are terms that would usually sound unfamiliar to people that rarely play games. But it is these mechanics that gives games and gamified systems such a clear sense of progression. Besides acting as virtual rewards, these mechanics also works as a symbol of the users’ progression. The more the user encounters them, the further they are progressing.
For example: Being told that you’ve grown to level 3 after mastering the basics is much more clear than wondering for yourself if you’ve actually mastered the basics or not.
Duolingo Progression Screenshots
Motivate through competition
This is what often goes through the head of so many people when they implement a game mechanic like leaderboards. You’d more often think you want to incite competition rather than use it to motivate. And thus, leaderboards with top 10s are usually made in the hopes that anyone under the top 10 ranking would want to strive for that position. But the truth of the matter: unless you are highly competitive, seeing someone so much better or so far ahead than you can be a major disincentive instead. And if not, things could go very wrong and the competition could very well become toxic instead.
A good leaderboard is a type that lets you see your position no matter where it is in the rankings and show the little gap between you and the next rank. Or a special tab where you can see how you fare with friends or people you personally know.
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Gamification besides Using PBL
There are of course other ways of implementing gamification besides using PBL. One such way that is relatively new to the gamification world is using narrative. A narrative has always been a key mechanic in so many games. Giving the players a context as to why they should play the game. These are the sort of mechanic that, though people wouldn’t likely to take incredibly seriously, still affects their actions. This phenomenon is well explained by the gamification expert, Yu-kai Chou’s Epic Meaning and Calling Core Drive within his gamification framework, Octalysis.
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