Gamification in learning:
Benefits And Examples

We all love games. We all play them.

It seems there are exceptions. You can be absolutely against all these PC and mobile games. You can hate sports games. Furthermore, you can even forbid yourself to play in your daily life, behaving only following strict rules, despite I doubt that it would be beneficial. But even so, you play games. Because we are hardwired for that.

No matter when and how, as long as we’re humans, gamification in online learning will always work if you manage to avoid pitfalls and organize everything properly. We’re going to explore how and see the examples of successful implementations. Many well-known companies, from Google to McDonald's, use this approach to improve their employees’ skills and compliance with corporate practices.

We play games in our everyday lives when we follow some rules and try to reach something searching for rewards, and as you’ll see, such behavior is hardwired in our brain’s dopamine reward system. Learning gamification fits this pattern, so we become engaged quickly and often cannot stop. Those of us who use Duolingo for language learning know that very well.

Let’s start from the beginning and explore in detail how gamification works.

What is Gamification in Learning?

When we decide what we’ll do, cooperate with others, compete with others, pursue our goals, defeat competitors, and engage in relationships, we play strategic games where we can win or lose. We should follow certain rules, and all situations have their own. We can obtain some reward in case of winning, be it money, pleasure, or a simple feeling of satisfaction, and we’ll certainly be discouraged when losing too often. If you’re used to being very serious and following strict rules, it’s your game strategy that you, for some reason, believe to be the most efficient.
That’s why gamification for corporate learning is a future-proof way to ensure high engagement and exceptional efficiency of business activities.
The scheme “goal — rules — win/lose conditions — rewards” works everywhere due to our brain structure.
Various studies are dedicated to the brain’s dopamine system that defines our motivation, and how it relates to our tendencies to play games, such as Balkaya & Catak’s. The truth is that we find games fun, and even when we’re behaving very seriously, we’re actually playing games. We’ve evolved to pursue goals, reach them, and create something new because, in the deep past, it was the question of our survival. Now, it’s the question of our motivation.
And we want to be motivated.

Let’s see some gamification learning examples from well-known companies to understand how it works. You’ll see how large were their benefits!
introduced interactive training for its associates with the VR elements, reducing the time needed for training from an hour to 10 minutes, while remaining efficient.
move was even simpler: introducing custom badges for dedicated learners, which they might place on their social network profiles. Such a simple gamification feature led to 87% of employees reporting that their engagement increased!
a large consulting and professional services company, uses a leaderboard to maintain the highest competencies among its staff. They compete with each other and, together, remain highly motivated and efficient.
uses gamification e-learning for its customers, involving them in testing activities. They grant rewards to Windows users who find bugs and report them to the company, and often announce challenges to search for them. While it’s quite an outlier in our review, let’s see why it’s important: you want to engage your customers, as well as your employees, as they generate your revenues. By gamifying their experience, you’ll retain customers and satisfy them while successfully explaining how to use your product.
So, gamification is important from all sides. Let’s dive deeper now.

Difference between gamification and game-based learning

You don’t want to create a game? If not, then the latter isn’t for you.

Gamification and game-based learning are very different approaches, even despite sounding similar. Gamification, as you’ve seen, includes introducing gaming elements into curricular activities, increasing interactivity, and ensuring deep engagement, often several times higher than without it. It requires some game elements that we’ll review shortly, and then see how various learning management tools enable their realization. For game-based learning, you need to develop a game, be it a computer, smartphone, board, or social one, and connect its with your work activities.

So, establishing gamification-based learning will be much easier and good for everyone, you only need to build a proper model. It depends on the median portrait of your employee, as well as their job responsibilities and personal interests and desires. The 40–to–50–year employees of a jewelry factory and 20–to–30–year sales team members have different aims and, usually, personalities.

So, we need to customize it, but how?

Custom gamification in online learning

Let’s learn. Park & Kim article, where more than 700 gamification cases are studied, provides a good background for further examination.
Content gamification
in learning and development activities is when your learning content is itself enriched by game-like elements. Examples include interactive scenarios, where a learner plays some role, the usage of various characters, and interactive quizzes after them to reinforce knowledge. Use it if you can afford your content to be playful and won’t use any “seriousness” with it.
Structural gamification
includes course and interface elements that drive our reinforcement brain system. For example, interactive tasks right during studying and surveys after each course part reinforce knowledge and generate the desire to learn more. It’s the most common approach, as it doesn’t disrupt the learning process and doesn’t require any changes to the learning content or curriculum.
Performance gamification
focuses on active events, such as challenges, performances, and competitions. They are beneficial in competencies that require active interactions with others, such as sales, so various performances where employees learn how to sell anything can reinforce their knowledge and remorse psychological barriers.
Aesthetic enhancement

while not being a direct gamification as a learning tool practice, can be reviewed in connection with them. You can create an appealing graphic style that will tell your story to learners, so they’ll be immersed in it, just as in actual games. If you’ve chosen to do that, you need to be in context, ensuring that your employees will accept the chosen style.

Benefits and drawbacks of gamification in learning

What will be your reward?

That’s a recursive question here. Because gaming is what directly influences our reward systems. The gamification of learning is the most efficient way to deploy our intrinsic motivation. And all the following benefits will belong to you.
It stimulates goal-achieving
and often helps companies clarify their goals and strategies to reach them. According to Kim, companies introducing gamification increase their staff participation in corporate activities, improving their productivity and efficiency.
It makes situations easier
so people are much more prone to try, experiment, and cope with failures until the goal is achieved. According to Larson, people are much more relieved and satisfied in a gamified environment, so they stay longer in companies and work more efficiently.
It increases cohesion
between team members, as games often require active teamwork to win. Therefore, according to Loughrey and O’Broin’s article, companies using gamification usually enjoy higher retention rates and better communication between team members.
It increases innovational activities
promoting creativity and generating new ideas during gamified sessions. According to Patricio, introducing gamification to entrepreneurship helps businesses generate and realize ideas more efficiently and increases their quality.
Can there be drawbacks and pitfalls to the gamification of online learning deployment? The dark side of gamification, as described in the review of Callan et al., can reduce its potential greatly and cause even more problems. However, there are clear reasons for them, which can be summarized in three categories. By indicating them, you’ll be able to build an efficient gamification strategy, avoiding pitfalls.
A lack of synchronization
is critical here. All learning activities must be connected with workflows, with no exceptions. If your gamified practices don’t lead to work completion directly, you’ll probably just conduct several joyful events without actual results.
Being out of context
is terrible. If your employees reject your gamification model, will find it boring or inappropriate, no matter how efficiently it would work otherwise: you’ll lose your investments and probably employee satisfaction as well.
Potential distractions
pose another challenge to those striving to gamify their activities. Games are interactive and emotional and often distract attention from the actual work to be done.
Collecting the benefits and avoiding drawbacks are the two most important elements of a successful gamification strategy. Now, we’ll focus on the software where you’ll realize it.

How to choose a gamification learning platform

So, you need to gamify your corporate learning program, and while you don’t need to develop your own game for that, you certainly need a learning management system (LMS) to host your learning materials. The learning management system's gamification features may be very different, but all of them are connected with a motivational toolkit. Let’s discover them!
are custom tokens that are given for completing tasks or winning learning competitions.
can be in the form of leaderboards for competitions, or direct gifts from a company for its best employees.
Interactive journeys
Interactive journeys are created with task and survey creation tools, and they are present in most learning gamification platforms, being important for learning path customization.
Gamified tasks
require a learner to complete some task, often playing some pre-defined role, for which they’ll obtain specific rewards. Often, they also have a specific game-like bright interface to catch attention and redirect it to learning materials.
Social gaming
is based on teamwork and social interaction to solve tasks and reach objectives together. They require messengers for private messaging, channels for group communication, and the interface for group calls.
To choose among the wide variety of gamification learning apps, focus on your staff characteristics. What do they want, what do they find acceptable and unacceptable, and what are their attitudes toward various activities? Answering these questions, you’ll understand whether you need a fully gamified learning environment or just some interactive course elements.

CleverLMS, for example, enables you to reward learners with badges and scores, and using their scores, they can buy gifts in the corporate store that you can organize. It is designed Other tools may be more leaned toward gamification, with bright interfaces or active social interactions.

Choose the right one. And good luck!

Literature used

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