When most people think about business training, they don’t usually think about games. However, many organizations currently use gamification to increase engagement in their training programs.
Gamification uses gaming dynamics to create proactive directives. It provides feedback and helps users measure their progress toward learning goals.
If done well, gamification should illicit emotion in the learner. It should also help push them toward shared goals and can help learners show their ability through rewards, leaderboards, and profile badges.
Gamification comes with many benefits outside of engagement. It gives learners a plan to follow, by presenting activities that earn them points, rewards, or credit toward a goal. It also supplies each learner with instant feedback on their performance. It reveals what they know and what they may not before the learner gets too far into the training material.
Turning learning into a game can be a subtle process. It isn’t always the same as pulling out a board game or logging into a video game. One of the simplest examples of gamification are the loyalty rewards some businesses provide for customers. Getting a stamp on a card to earn a free item is a basic example of gamification.
Why Does Gamification in eLearning Work?
There’s a good chance that you use gamification in other areas of your life and don’t even know it. Many mobile apps utilize this method to teach languages, manage finances, or promote fitness and health. That’s because gamification is an effective approach that is extremely adaptable. It can be used:
- With any learning style
- With any training subject
- With training classes of any size
Why does gamification work? The most obvious reason is that games are fun. If presented with the option of playing a game or doing work, most people would rather play the game.
Games also tend to be designed around the way the human brain works. It can give us that dopamine hit when we win or make a good move. Players get emotionally invested in the outcome. Rolling dice can mean landing a hit on an enemy, earning a prize, or growing your settlement, all of which light up the brain’s reward center.
Introducing these elements to a non-game experience will make it more entertaining and appealing.
Gamification can be used in any part of a business. It can be applied to internal employee training or used in customer education and interactions.
Humans like playing games because they activate the neurotransmitter dopamine. This occurs when you experience something positive. It builds each time we achieve a goal, like unlocking an achievement or reaching a higher level.
This works well for training because it serves as positive reinforcement. It tells the brain to repeat the action to earn the reward.
Many people feel motivated when they learn something new. However, it can be difficult to maintain that momentum on its own. Loss of motivation is the bane of training. Gamification helps boost motivation by giving learners more rewards and goals along the way.
Who Uses Gamification in Training?
More organizations are turning to gamification to improve their training programs. A 47th Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences paper revealed that 50% of start-ups said they were using gaming elements in their strategies.
Many well-known companies currently utilize gamification. Duolingo is one of the most popular language learning apps available today. It applies this technique by letting users earn badges, reach goals, and earn power-ups.
Codecademy teaches users how to code. The platform also uses gamification. Learner dashboards display earned badges and progress on yearly tracks. The learner earns levels and can see their best point score and hot streaks.
Famous shoe brand Nike has a Nike+ running mobile app. It takes the competitive nature of humans and gamifies it. Users work toward goals and track personal records that they can try to beat. The app also connects to social media so that users can show off their progress.
10 Tips for Introducing Gamification to Your Training Program
There are many ways to harness the power of gamification. It can be overwhelming to get started. Use the following tips to find effective ways to gamify your training content.
- Align Gamification with Your Business Goals
Make sure your gamification strategy aligns with your business goals. In the Nike+ example above, the app increases engagement and inspires runners, which in turn encourages users to buy more running shoes.
- Focus on Positive Behavioral Changes
You want to encourage users to do well. That means focusing on positive behavioral changes rather than punishing failures.
- Make a Big Deal About New Gamification Features
Make a big deal about gamification. Start at the top, getting executives, managers, and supervisors involved. Their excitement will help get everyone else on board and drive interest in checking out new game-inspired features.
- Focus on Competition Rather Than Rewards and Prizes
Don’t focus too much on prizes, instead focus on the competition aspect of gamification. You want employees to push to do better. This helps keep funding for rewards manageable and discourages corner-cutting just to get wins. This is also a part of knowing how to effectively plan your employee training budget.
- Be Transparent About Rules and Guidelines
Keep the playing field level by making sure everyone has access to the rules and guidelines of gamification. Being transparent will make everyone feel like they have a fair chance to win or do well. If they feel like the playing field is not level, then they may become discouraged and opt out.
- Celebrate All Participants Rather Than Just the Winners
Recognize top performers, but don’t ignore everyone else. Recognize and reward all participants to help keep enthusiasm high. The idea is to get more engagement at all levels, not just your top 5% or 10%.
- Include Progress Tracking with Your Gamification
Progress tracking should always be a part of gamification. It tells users and their managers or trainers how well they are doing. It also helps them establish effective and realistic learning goals. Some LMS platforms include built-in reports and tracking as well as leaderboards for gamification.
- Keep It Simple to Avoid Overcomplication
Using gamification shouldn’t feel like a burden. Keep it simple so you don’t slow users down. The elements you implement should blend seamlessly with the training material. When something becomes too complex, users are less likely to want to engage with it. It also helps to know how to prevent cognitive overload in employee training.
- Personalize the Experience with Profiles and Avatars
Give users a little piece of gamification that they can make their own. This is best done through profiles and avatars.
Let employees create a unique profile that lists a few things about themselves. You can keep it more professional with skill sets, qualifications, and job roles or allow more personal details like hobbies and interests. A photo or avatar will put a face on the profile, giving the user representation in the game.
- Use Humor to Keep It Fun and Engaging
As stated above, people love games because they are fun. Remember to keep the tone light and entertaining to get maximum engagement. Work in some humor where appropriate.
Find an LMS That Includes Gamification Features
Find an LMS that comes with gamification features. This is the easiest way to introduce games to your training program. Visit LMS.org to read LMS reviews and learn more about how eLearning can boost your business.