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Top 10 frequently asked questions about Gamification

November 6, 2022

What is Gamification?

The learning process gets harder as you get older, and gaining knowledge from lectures, workbooks, and written assignments is nobody’s idea of a good time. If only there were a learning strategy to foster learner motivation, one which harnessed our natural competitiveness and desire for reward. One which made it fun to forge our own learning journey.

Fortunately, there is! It’s a technique called Gamification based learning, and it has revolutionized the way online, and hybrid learning is delivered. In this article, we’ll try to answer people’s most frequently asked questions about game-based learning and Gamification so that you can determine whether it is worth investing in.

Let’s start with a definition.

1: What exactly is Gamification?

In a 2017 article, Forbes Magazine defined Gamification as “the practice of adding game-design elements and game principles in non-game contexts to encourage participation, engagement, and loyalty.” There are several key elements to this definition. Firstly, there are game-design elements, such as collecting badges or loyalty stamps or achieving numerical targets. These are vital motivators and indicators of success.

There’s also the key concept of engagement. Staff training works more effectively when participants are fully engaged and actively concentrating on a topic because they see value and reward in doing so. Gamification offers such rewards while underscoring the value of the topics under consideration. When immersive learning strategies work, participants aren’t even conscious of the effort they are employing to learn – they’re simply playing games.

2: What’s the Science behind Gamification?

Or, to put it another way, how does Gamification work?

As explained in a white paper from Elearning Industry, Gamification enlists the brain’s natural endorphin release mechanism. Endorphins are the hormones that limit the pain response during exercise – they are triggered in response to effort. They also cause the release of dopamine, whose effects are enhanced by pleasurable stimuli, such as the rewards and accolades that Gamification entails.

In other words, we put in the effort, are rewarded, and receive the dopamine hit that naturally accompanies achievement.

3: What is Gamification used for?

Gamification is utilized for much more than making e-learning more effective. It can be used to improve sales teams’ performance or reward regular customers for their loyalty. Any activity where regular effort is accompanied by gifts, monetary awards, badges, or tokens towards future discounts is using gamification strategies.

However, it works especially well for learning because it helps mitigate the comparatively effortful act of mastering a new skill or activity. Gamification takes a process that could be quite onerous and turns it into something fun and challenging.

4: Is Gamification the same as Game-Based Learning?


While related to Gamification, game-based learning much more explicitly uses game examples to illustrate a point. For instance, one might use Sim City to illustrate urban planning or The Stock Market game to demonstrate basic notions in economics. Brands can even commission bespoke versions of games like Monopoly or the classic jigsaw to add gaming elements to promote a brand message. However, these are not strictly speaking examples of Gamification.

Instead, in Gamification, individual gaming elements, such as leaderboards, rewards, multiple-choice questions, and other game features, are incorporated within the learning environment. These game mechanics are so well-known that they don’t need to be explained to learners. Participants instinctively know what’s being asked of them and how to participate.

5: Why should I use Gamification?

Some might object to what they assume is a trivialization or infantilization of the process of serious learning. Why must everything be fun? They might ask. Surely some topics are too important to make light of by incorporating game mechanics?

Again, it depends on how vital engagement is to your learning program. If you want your course to be more than a mere tick-box enterprise, for your participants to excel, and to retain the knowledge they’re given, then you need to use whatever methodology works.

Statistics back up Gamification’s effectiveness. Far from being a fad, Gamification is now a multi-billion-dollar industry. The value of the gamification market in 2021, according to Statista, was 11.94 billion US dollars, more than double the 4.91 billion dollars it was valued in 2016. When an industry expands so significantly, it’s usually because someone has tapped into a strategy that succeeds.

Use Gamification to enhance engagement and measure effectiveness. By adding tests to learning modules, for instance, you measure information retention and turn mere hunches about your participants’ knowledge levels into hard metrics. The quiz master (or mistress) benefits as much as the participants.

6: Does Gamification make learning more fun?

It certainly can do. For in-person learning situations, using roleplay or quizzes can force students to be more active rather than having them passively receive instruction. It’s always more fun to be part of a group activity than to be left alone to read up on a difficult topic. Gamification adds the following to the learning context:

  • Group dynamics: leaders, innovators, and team players come to the fore.
  • Active participation, rather than passive listening.
  • Fuels learner engagement across whole cohorts; it’s harder to “slack off.”
  • Instant feedback enables learners to proceed with confidence.
  • Rewards stimulate competitiveness and the pleasure of doing better.
  • Enhance learner motivation over longer periods.
  • Complex topics can be made accessible through demonstration.
  • Personal progress can be charted, allowing you to report success levels.

We all know the thrill of acing a test or scoring in the upper percentile of a leaderboard. Doing well or doing better is always more fun than simply doing enough.

7: How does Gamification for learning work?

There is a range of possible learning strategies which can incorporate game elements. These can include leaderboards, badges and rewards, quizzes, roleplay exercises, and unlocking new learning levels.

Think of the colored belts that denote martial arts prowess or even the levels of enlightenment that a religion like Scientology promotes – these are examples of learning Gamification. In a business setting, the “salesperson of the week” is a common gamification concept, as well as the cash bonuses and recognition that often accompany extraordinary achievement.

In an eLearning program, the accumulation of badges of attainment, certificates of achievement, or other coveted rewards, often acts as engagement incentives.

8: How should learning games be designed?

game design

Simplicity is vital. The game mechanics must be straightforward enough not to get in the way of achievement. A well-designed workplace game is easy to play but instructive in its content. The gaming aspects must always be a means to the end of a more productive learning process and better learning outcomes.

Use gamification strategies the participants are already familiar with – percentage scores, guessing games, leaderboards, multiple choice, role play, and suchlike. There is no need to reinvent the wheel when it comes to the mechanics of gameplay. Thousands of years of human history have already given us all the key gaming concepts!

Other than those simple strictures, there are as many ways to design e-learning games as there are types of games in the wider world. Here are just a few of the well-known techniques which can be incorporated into in-person sessions or online games:

·         Odd One Out – participants identify the element which doesn’t fit a given paradigm.

·         Crossword – quiz questions help complete a classic crossword form.

·         Multiple Choice – several possible answers are given. Which is right?

·         Complete the Sentence – filling in blanks helps participants memorize new concepts.

·         Pairing Words – links words to definitions or subordinate ideas to primary concepts.

Game elements can be more interactive and visually based if your software platform permits it – you’re only limited by accessibility and the need for the rules to be easily understood.

9: Who in the workplace benefits from Gamification?

The simple answer is that anyone, from interns to C-suite, can benefit from Gamification. Kindergarten children can learn about road safety with Gamification, just as senior executives can learn about the implications of AI and machine learning by “playing” with such a system. Adult learners find motivation in demonstrations and real-life examples.

Here’s another real-life example – the role play that attorneys put their clients through when practicing for cross-examination in court is a form of game-based learning.

Gamification techniques prove especially helpful when onboarding new employees. Newcomers have steep learning curves to face. It’s always a challenge to ensure they retain sufficient information to hit the ground running. That’s where Gamification comes in – leveraging that dopamine response to make the retention of information more rewarding and enjoyable.

After all, what would you rather do – read a 200-page employee handbook or spend a few hours engaging in roleplay and pop quizzes?

Learning and development heads, human resources leads, and senior managers benefit, too, knowing that their gamification strategy enhances learner engagement and, by extension, minimizes the risk of professional skills training being neglected.

10: Are there any tried and tested Gamification Frameworks?

Taiwanese gamification expert and pioneer Yu-Kai Chou has created a framework that looks more deeply into the conventions and game-playing methods that best inspire learning. His eight main human drives to learn to include “epic meaning and calling,” which he describes as “the need or the urge to be a part of something much bigger than just yourself.”

Think of a roleplaying game like classic Dungeons and Dragons. The shared mission that players pursue to win a game that may take many hours, or even days, is an example of “epic meaning and calling.” Similarly, engagement is further maximized by reminding participants of the greater purpose behind playing games and learning particular subjects.

Chou identifies this as one of eight “core drives” of his framework Octalysis, a framework describing the factors that motivate participants to do well in game-based learning settings.

One more question about Gamification

If we’ve convinced you of the value and effectiveness of incorporating game elements into your learning strategy, you may wonder where to source the software you’ll need to make this a reality.

This is an easy question to answer – Spinify, of course!

Spinify is the perfect gamification solution that bonds teams, instill core concepts, and measures performance. Our platform includes target and reward-based gamification elements, which will help you build a very engaging learning strategy and motivate your team to succeed.

With customized competitions and more immersive performance improvement journeys, your employees will be driven to excel.

Why not book a demo or talk to us today?

Put those insights into practice.

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

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