In a facilitated discussion session on game-enabled learning and gamification, a number of participants shared their training experiences. We’ll start with clarification on the difference between game-based training and gamification.
Gamification of training has recently been a big trend in the online learning world. Sessions at DevLearn 2012 made me think deeper about the difference between game-based training and training gamification. Designers who employ gaming and/or gamification strategies claim impressive results.
Estimated reading time: 2 minutes
Game-based training uses a game engine (e.g., Unity) to create a video game. Going this route can be relatively expensive – not only due to the cost of a game engine, but the high cost of development skill and time.
Gamification is the application of game dynamics to non-game experiences (e.g., marketing or training). These strategies provide rewards and incentives, such as programs used for airline point programs. The strategies also build a sense of community. Rewards in training are used to increase status and drive engagement in an organization. In public facing training gamification is used to build customer loyalty through use of challenges, contests, and rewards. Gamification tends to be a hosted service. Some of the most popular gamification services are:
Instructional designers reported higher completion rates for game-based training compared to traditional online learning. When questioned about demographics of the audience, there was agreement that higher completion rates were seen across all age brackets and in both genders. Stereotyping may lead us to believe that games are more appealing to men, but more women than men play Farmville.
A session facilitator reported on training he developed for a beauty salon company. Use of challenges, competition, and rewards (badges) lead to a 1,000 percent increase in content uptake compared to the online training with the same material in a non-game format. Interestingly, the gamification reward value was limited to a perceived increase in status. There was no other form of reward for taking the training (other than increased knowledge, which was the same in the traditional course). The point here is that rewards don’t need to have a cash value to be effective. The challenge and reward system can provide adequate incentive to increase training effectiveness.
Other DevLearn attendees reported on game-based training used to educate employees in diverse locations prior to attendance at a capstone training event. In this context, the game was used to ensure all learners had the same knowledge level prior to the capstone event. It was reported that the use of games for pre-training improved outcomes at the “big” event.
As instructional designers/developers, we all want of our learning events to be engaging and fun. Games and gamification are proven strategies for not only achieving those goals, but also for increasing time spent with learning materials.
The Gamification of Learning and Instruction: Game-based Methods and Strategies for Training and Education by Karl Kapp
Gamification by Design: Implementing Game Mechanics in Web and Mobile Apps by Gabe Zichermann