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How Gamification is Different From Traditional Learning

March 2, 2023

Gamification difference

Technology is constantly evolving. The many technological advancements are one of the many reasons traditional learning is outdated.

Students don’t just learn in school. They can learn from other sources, such as videos, games, blogs, etc. Textbooks and traditional classroom schooling lack depth, interest, engagement, and motivation.

Gamification takes on a different approach. It uses game elements to reinvent traditional learning methods. It offers better learning outcomes, student engagement, understanding, and learning experience.

“Games and gamification both can lead to high levels of learner engagement and motivation.” – Karl Kapp.

Gamification is not just about playing games. It is about adding game elements to non-gaming settings. Some of these game mechanics include leaderboards, badges, and rewards. They provide measurable outcomes for the entire classroom.

Here is a quick overview of gamification vs. traditional learning.

Is gamification a learning strategy?

A gamification is a tool in education. It takes a holistic approach that you would typically see in online games. It uses gamification elements like designs, progress tracking, and other game mechanics. They promote active learning and increase engagement and intrinsic motivation.

These components can be added to traditional learning. But, it is more about the experience than the score itself. Gamification in education gives learners an idea of progression and a way to pick up information and knowledge along the way.

According to recent reports, the growth rate for serious games in the tertiary segment and higher education is 15.4%. Business simulation games that use role-playing are now common in marketing, business, finance, and sales programs in higher education worldwide.

The widespread use of gamification software has made gamification easy to apply in the academic sector. The different gamification and game-based elements are versatile, convenient, and can accommodate a range of users.

Because of the pandemic, 93% of American households with children claim that the learners residing with them engage in distance learning. This signals the need for gamification and various game elements that can enhance the learning experience.  

Research shows that VR-based learning games have gained quite a lot of momentum. They have the biggest growth rate (52%) compared to other education game types through 2024. Followed by assessment and evaluation games (46%) and language learning games (42%). 

How is game-based learning different from gamification in education?

There are two ways to gamify the learning pathways: “gamification” and “game-based learning.”

Gamification adds game components to traditional instruction methods. It is used to track the progress and performance of students on a much larger scale. 

While game-based learning uses a more targeted approach, mainly focused on building a specific skill for achieving a particular task.

Gamification vs. game-based learning


  • Applies game mechanics to non-game settings to encourage students
  • Incorporates awards, achievements, badges, etc
  • Gives students options to customize the learning experience
  • Uses experience points instead of standard grades

Game-based learning:

  • Uses games to accommodate learning outcomes
  • Students learn from playing games.
  • Uses education-oriented games
  • Can include simulations to boost knowledge retention

Why is gamification useful in education?

Gamification is one of the must-have features of any learning management system. In education, challenge-based gamification leads to a 34.75% boost in student performance.

Students who received challenge-based gamification amplified their performance by up to 89.45% compared to those who only listened to lectures.

So, how is gamification different from traditional learning? For 67% of students, gamified learning was more engaging and motivational than traditional learning. These are some critical advantages of gamification for upgrading the learning experience.

Gamification improves cognitive development.

Research shows that digital games can shape the brain and behavior. They can change regions of the brain responsible for visuospatial and attention skills, making them more efficient. 

Another 2022 research of 2,000 children showed similar results. Playing digital games for 3 hours daily helped enhance cognitive skills tests involving working memory and impulse control.

Games can engage different brain areas, such as the hippocampus, prefrontal cortex, and cerebellum. 

Gamification and games offer a great deal of value because of context. Through gamification, learners earn points, compete with peers on leaderboards, and visualize their progress with the help of levels and scoreboards.

  • Doing gamified lessons means learners put more mental energy into their work. Therefore, increasing their sense of belonging and ownership.

Khan Academy, for example, uses gamified learning software. Learners can use the app to practice math, history, computer programming, etc. This software allows students to obtain more knowledge and better problem-solving skills by strengthening two core motivators: rewards and feedback.

Learners earn experience points to get a badge, complete progress bars, and get verbal feedback. They also customize their avatar. 

Gamification increases engagement

You can assess learners’ skills and interests based on their level of engagement. 

But, in the classroom, only a few students like to stay active. They don’t see the importance and value of engaging in a classic schooling atmosphere.

With gamification and game-based learning, you can change that. 

Game-based learning offers better motivation, engagement, and impact for students. That’s because students learn better when they use technology. Technology in learning offers a real-world context, which helps learners stay interested and motivated.

Gamification uses game-based elements, such as earning points to get rewards. Other game mechanics, like levels and badges, are also fun. They lead to increased engagement.

Competitive students can use their rewards to share their achievements with peers. This enhances student interaction and motivation, especially for learners honing a specific skill.

How is gamification different from traditional learning?

There is a significant difference between gamification vs. traditional learning.

  • Traditional education forces students to learn material that often isn’t relevant or entertaining. With gamification, students can customize their learning experience, which enhances creativity, innovation, and intrinsic motivation.
  • Traditional learning uses grading to assess students’ competency, knowledge, and skill. Gamification uses experience points. Experience points are gained over time and can be obtained in different ways. This allows students to improve their learning and address multiple shortcomings.
  • Traditional learning uses textbooks and lectures. This is another notable difference between gamification vs. traditional learning. Traditional methods need to integrate with technology fully. They are monotonous and boring and don’t provide any engagement. Game-based learning and gamification use 21st-century learning methods. A gamified system offers reliable results, helps assess the student’s learning capacity, and enhances collaboration, skill development, and problem-solving. It also makes practical classes exciting and enjoyable.
  • Traditional learning requires students to learn in a specific timeframe. With game-based learning or gamification, students can learn at their own pace. Game-based learning uses education-oriented games, while gamification applies game elements to non-game settings. This can significantly impact students who need more time to learn a specific concept.

How to use gamification in education?

The main focus of gamification is to broaden knowledge and enhance work habits. Gamification mechanics are there to support these habits. The point system helps teachers monitor their students and see how far they’ve come.

How can you add gamification to a classroom? You can introduce game-like elements in your classroom. You should apply the features that make games fun, immersive and engaging to the learning activities.

Gamification features can include things like:

  • Rewards or badges – Learners can obtain rewards for completing specific tasks related to their education. These rewards shouldn’t be too easy to get. Otherwise, gamification won’t have a real impact. They need the right complexity and achievability to make them appealing and rewarding.
  • Experience points (XP) – In any game, XP measures how well the user has mastered the environment. More points mean better scores. But, to make this feature engaging, it must be cumulative and challenging. For example, overcoming difficult obstacles should earn students more XP. Simpler tasks give less XP. This helps students understand the difficulty level associated with every task.
  • Levels – Levels and XP are often interconnected. Each level has a specific XP target range. Once the student hits the XP target, they level up. You can set different target levels every semester for marking student progress.

Examples of gamification in eLearning

To create gamified eLearning, you can’t create a full-blown game. You need to incorporate a couple of elements into your learning practice and use them to upgrade the standard learning methods. 

Here are a couple of examples of using gamification in eLearning.

  • Competitions Gamification allows students to compete and reach for the highest score. They can outperform their peers and achieve better rewards.
  • Visual design – With gamification, you can create pleasing designs to help students visualize their learning process. Anything visually stimulating can help enhance engagement and focus.
  • Feedback – Tests and essays alone are insufficient to give teachers a better perspective of students’ capabilities and skills. Gamification offers consistent feedback with each task or quiz. This can help keep track of the progress in various stages of the learning experience.

Spinify can help

Gamification in learning has many advantages, both for students and teachers. It is here to gamify the educational experience and create new outcomes. Students can use gamification to absorb more information and gain adequate feedback.

Many things set gamification vs. traditional learning apart. First, traditional learning is outdated and doesn’t integrate with 21st-century technology. Gamification is a simple tool that can change that and offer continuous learning.
If you are looking to gamify your educational institution or business, Spinify can help. Our team is a leader in sales gamification. We can help you leverage innate human psychology, engage, and motivate students through gamification. Book a demo today to get started.

Put those insights into practice.

Set your team up for success by improving their performance through gamification.

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