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Gamification – Its definition, psychology & working

Gamification – Its definition, psychology & working

Keeping the learners in corporate learning programs engaged & motivated has remained a major challenge in the industry for a long time until gamification was introduced. Because gamification improves learner engagement & motivation, it has now become the new normal in the eLearning programs.

But what is gamification & why has it become the buzzword in the world of learning??

This article will discuss in detail Gamification, its features, and why it is important for organizations to embrace gamification in their learning & development programs.

​What is Gamification?

Wikipedia defines gamification as:- The strategic attempt to enhance systems, services, organisations, and activities in order to create similar experiences to those experienced when playing games to motivate and engage users.

Sounds confusing right? For a better understanding let's try and understand gamification from the perspective of learning. The fundamental concept behind gamification in learning is to incorporate elements of games into the learning programs to keep the learners engaged & motivated.

In short, gamification is applying game-based concepts to learning programs to better meet the required learning outcomes.

But what exactly are the elements of Gamification?

Points: Similar to the games you play, for every learning objective that is completed, learners are awarded certain points. The learning objectives can be anything from assignments, discussions, or projects.

Badges: While badges are often used interchangeably with certificates, they are a lot different from certificates. While certificates are awarded only after the successful completion of a course, badges are awarded following the completion of smaller milestones.

Awarding badges to learners will create a healthy competition among learners to complete the learning milestones better & faster. Badges can also be used to track learner progress.

Levels: Just as levels are an integral part of games, they play a crucial part in gamification too. When a learner completes a set of learning objectives or collects certain points/rewards, they will automatically be pushed to the next level. This will create a sense of urgency in the learners to progress in their learning while also creating a healthy competitive environment among the learners.

Progress bars: Progress bars are visual cues to the progress a learner has made. By having a progress bar, learners would know how much they have completed & how much more is left to be completed. Progress bars move in tandem with the learning progress of a learner.

Rewards: Who doesn't like to be rewarded for their achievements? Being appreciated & rewarded will keep the learners better engaged & motivated. For instance, giving a small reward to your learners for the milestones they complete will motivate them to complete the learning milestones faster.

Leader Boards: Leader boards are an integral part of gamification. Having every learning program integrated into the leader board means that the rank of learners is visible in real-time. This would in turn foster a healthy competitive environment where learners try to compete with their peers on the learning pace.

Now that we have discussed the different elements of gamification, let's see the psychology behind gamification.

The Psychology Behind Gamification

To give you a better understanding of the psychology behind gamification, let's take an example. Imagine that friendly poker gaming session you had with your friends. Though it was just a fun session, you still tried to win every game, didn't it? Though you were not winning any real money nor did you have anything at stake, you still wouldn't have shifted your attention from the game even for a second.

But why did you do that? Why did you try your best to win every game? Well, that is because we humans are hard-wired for competition. Not just in poker games, humans have an innate urge to compete with others in everything. This is something that has predominant importance from an evolutionary standpoint.

Even a victory in a friendly poker session would give us a sense of accomplishment. This in short is the psychology behind gamification.

Because of this innate inclination towards competition, humans when given a problem to solve or a task to complete would compete among themselves. By leveraging this in learning, a healthy competitive environment can be created which would eventually lead to the learners getting fully involved in the learning programs.

Okay now let's see how gamification works in an eLearning environment.

How does gamification work in an eLearning environment?

It is important to note that gamification doesn't help learners in any way with learning as such. Neither do they make learning easy? Instead, all that it does is make the learners more engaged in the learning process.

Because of the gaming elements that are in place, learners would have a healthy competition among themselves which will keep them better engaged in the learning.

For instance, imagine that the learning & development team in your organization designs a learning path for your software development team. If you have an LMS with Gamification features deployed, learner information including the pace at which they learn, the scores they get, how fast each milestone is completed, and more can be tracked. This information is also updated in real-time on the leaderboards.  

Is gamification only about creating a healthy competition?

No, Gamification is not just about creating a healthy competition among learners. Instead, it also motivates learners to constantly outperform themselves. This is where the design of the right gamification strategy comes into play.

Ideally an effective gamification strategy should be

  • Tailored for to your industry
  • Designed to impart value to the learners
  • Designed to be intuitive. You don't want your gamification strategy to be too complex that learners have a hard time understanding.

​​To sum up

The benefits of gamification are not just limited to learning & development. It can also be used in your brand's marketing activities to improve how customers engage with the content you put out. For instance, you can also implement gamification strategies to promote the content you put online or use gamification to promote how customers engage with your brand & more.

Are you planning to implement gamification strategies to your learning & development programs? Or do you have any tips to share? 

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