What IS Gamification?

Gamification is the addition of gameplay elements such as goals, rules, and activities to a task with the hope of increasing engagement. But what does it look like in action, and how can gamification be applied to a learning resource in a way that actually improves results?

Here at Brain Spice, we spend a lot of our concepting time considering the following:

  • If users remember one thing, what do we want it to be?
  • What is the true end goal of the app or experience?
  • How do we want people to feel while they're using the app or participating in the experience?

Gamification is most closely tied to the third question, but it can also heavily factor into learning and a number of other desirable outcomes.

There are three key elements that go into a gamified platform’s design: play, competition, and rewards.

Let’s take a look at successful gamification in action. Have you heard of Duolingo and its infamous owl, known for guilting users to complete their daily language lessons? This app is a prime example of gamification that makes full use of play (flash cards and quizzes), competition (leaderboards), and rewards (XP points and level progression) to encourage engagement and learning.

In Duolingo’s case, the goal is to teach language. But those same three gameplay elements can be applied to teach almost anything, including training employees in sales , customer service, leadership, and more. It can also influence behavior awareness and modification, as seen often in the rapidly expanding field of digital therapeutics .

The Element of Play

Play can be achieved through epic adventures or, more often, minigames such as interactive puzzles that allow the user to absorb the information in a more fun, meaningful way. Training games allow the user to feel involved in the task, explore content at their own pace, and better observe and internalize the lesson blocks. Fun alleviates boredom and fatigue caused by processing information, encouraging people to focus for longer periods of time than they would sitting in a lecture hall or watching a video.

For example, imagine presenting the essential information in a training course through a scavenger hunt. Participants can explore and interact with a game world to learn the required information. They can then practice memorizing this information via flash cards and take quizzes to test their knowledge.

A common non-tech way almost everyone has seen this in action is the children’s menu in restaurants. A piece of paper full of minigames commonly including a word search, a maze, a crossword, find-the-difference, tic-tac-toe, and more are placed in front of a child (or an adult!) along with a crayon or two. This makes the time waiting for your food fly by - and sometimes the participant even learns something along the way!

The Element of Competition

Competition is cultivated through scores assigned to participants based on their progress, performance on quizzes, or other relevant metrics. Leaderboards showcase users with the top scores, granting them the much-coveted bragging rights. In a workplace, not only does healthy competition push employees to improve their scores by engaging with the training experience, it also serves as a team-building exercise , turning training into an activity coworkers can bond over. Two birds, one stone!

Some leaderboards are designed to feature the top 10% highest scores, which could be based on total points earned and quiz results. Others may display every user’s score or allow participants to add friends and compare scores that way. The possibilities are vast whether it’s an employee training experience or a patient education game.

The Element of Rewards

Rewards and milestone achievements provide users a sense of accomplishment for making progress. This can take the form of points, daily challenges, badges, task completion checks, and other progress tracking “currencies”. Seeing your success displayed and validated ticks off the part of your brain that LOVES being rewarded. It releases a rush of dopamine in your brain, which not only makes you happy, but also increases memory and focus . Seeing a trend yet?

If a training game’s course is divided into multiple lessons, completing each lesson could reward the user with badges. They might earn points each time they complete a task, which unlocks ranks and new challenges. Additionally, maintaining a multi-day streak could reward the user with a 2x points multiplier to encourage active participation.

Rewards can also be tallied up to give participants access to in-game goodies that encourage users to do their best on their quizzes and gets them to keep coming back to the app.

Behind the Scenes of a Gamified Experience…

There’s more to a gamified platform than what participants see. Companies and organizations that make use of gamified training can gain access to immediate performance data and spot trends before they become problematic. The feedback and analytics provided by training games allows employers and managers to easily track progress, successes, and areas needing improvement.

Ready to tap into the ever-growing world of gamification? Drop us a line to learn more about using games to improve your outcomes.


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