The Gamification of Learning: Everyone Is a Closet Gamer

The Gamification of Learning: Everyone Is a Closet Gamer

Catch Phrase, Euchre, Pictionary, How to Talk to a Customer About Knee Implants, Connect Four, Monopoly… Which of these is not like the other?

It probably didn’t take you long to spot the odd one out of this bunch. Most people would probably not put sales training in a list of favorite games. In fact, you probably would not even think to put it in a list of games at all. But gamification is increasingly becoming an important part of effective learning and training.

Using games to increase learning effectiveness

Karl M. Kapp talks about gamification in his book, The Gamification of Learning and Instruction. Using games in training does not mean that you should come early to a training session to ensure you get your favorite purple game piece, but it does mean that traditional elements of games are being used to increase the effectiveness of learning. Traditional elements of games may include players or characters, rules, challenges, interactivity, feedback, emotional reaction, and so on.

Gamification in everyday life

You have probably encountered gamification in your everyday life without realizing it. Have you heard about the staircase that was transformed into a piano to encourage people to use the stairs instead of the escalator after exiting the subway? The black and white piano keys (painted stairs) each produced a different musical note when you stepped on it. The use of the staircase increased by 66 percent! This activity changed behavior helping to encourage a healthier choice, and it felt nothing like work—it was fun!

Every play the old Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing? It’s a computer game that uses different games to improve typing skills. In the game, you could play a mini-game. You drove a racecar around the track at a speed determined by your words per minute, but if you made a typing error, a bug hit your windshield. Eventually, you either finished the race and recorded your average speed, or you made so many mistakes that you couldn’t see out your windshield and crashed.

This encouraged typing students to compete for the top of the leaderboard, and many wouldn’t have been inspired to practice without good old Mavis!

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Keep it simple

Gamification can also be as simple as the introduction of Kapp’s book:

“You have ten seconds. Name three countries that begin with the letter “U.” Go. Ten, nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two, one.”

Gamification does not have to look or feel like a literal game, elements can be subtlety incorporated. And just in case you are wondering there are seven countries beginning with the letter “U”: Uganda, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, UK, USA, Uruguay, and Uzbekistan.

It’s important to point out that this notion is not completely new to the learning space. In fact, while reading this, you’ve probably thought of several examples of gamification in your own life—especially if you’re a parent. Ever tried to make a two-year-old brush their teeth for two minutes?

Gamification in eLearning

By embracing a “keep it simple” mindset, it’s easy to incorporate gamification into eLearning and mobile learning projects. For example, in safety modules, you can use relatable characters to pull on the emotional heartstrings of employees and lead to a positive change in behavior in the workplace. Even the driest material, like compliance training, can become engaging and effective with the help of gamification.

So go ahead. Game on!

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