Hi all,

I've been researching a lot about gamification and game-based learning.
From your experience, what would you stay is the state of gamification for Learning & Development? Is it really gaining traction or is it still more of a buzzword?

Thanks for your input!

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Hi Rita

Whilst this is not my area can I suggest an ex-colleague of mine who is developing in this area rapidly.

Joshua Roberts - @GamingTraining 


Best regards, Richard.

Thanks Richard, appreciate it!

Hi Rita

According to Gartner's Hype Cycle gamification is heading into the wonderfully named 'Trough of disillusionment' http://www.gartner.com/newsroom/id/2819918

This is not a place that depressed piggies dine, but where technologies go when people realise they won't deliver on the inflated hype around them. Most of the people we work with have a pretty mature view of what gamification is and isn't, however it is easy for more distant stakeholders to get the wrong idea.

Based on my experience I don't think we're that far into the trough yet but I see it coming*. It's easy to apply gamification poorly (for example using it to motivate the wrong behaviours, or trying to get people to use ineffective content) - these projects will fail to deliver behaviour change and gamification will be perceived as a fad.

*Or perhaps we are into the trough already - the small number of replies to your question may indicate that.

Gamification, like social learning, informal learning, coaching or whatever should be viewed as one of a number of techniques for bringing about behaviour change and used appropriately.

The most successful teachers, trainers and instructional designers have always made learning a game.  If you think about the teacher at school who you were most inspired by they made learning interesting through gamification, it's just that we didn't call it that back then.  

You would have been tasked with researching and investigating in order to learn.  You would have been encouraged to try out ways of solving things in a safe environment where failure was rewarded with new understanding.

As you grew older, you would have moved to learning through traditional chalk and talk methods and experiential and investigative learning would have been pushed to one side.  

Trainers who have to get large amounts of knowledge over can easily fall into the lecturing method of training.  However, we know that learners need to experience learning through all elements of their senses (VARK) and learning styles (such as honeymumford) and where a learner is pushed to learn through a style that is not their preferred choice they may struggle to learn but the experience will teach them more and they will eventually remember the learning better.

Where gamification is used to dumb down learning by making it childish then we run the risk of alienating our learners because they find the learning experience demeaning and beneath them.

Where gamification is used to make learning childlike and install in the learner that sense of awe and wonder at gaining new knowledge then we make learning inclusive, enjoyable and most importantly, attainable.

Gamification runs straight into the ideas of inclusivity in learning.  There has been the idea that learning must be pitched at the level of the lowest achiever in the circle - often to the detriment of brighter or more experienced delegates / students.  True inclusivity make everyone's experiences and learning valid and in the end all learners experience a better learning environment through this.  

Gamification meets this because it goes back to the way that they first learnt - as i said before, it gives an environment where failure is not important - learning from how you failed is important.  Discovering how things work for you and learning from those around you by this type of experiential learning, when done correctly, can be a very, very positive experience.

Bad training will not become good because it has been gamified.

Good training with a good trainer will become legendary because it has been gamified.

If you want to read more on inclusivity then you can't get better than reading Booth, T., Ainscow, M., Black-Hawkins, K., Vaughan, M. and Shaw, L. (2000) The Index for Inclusion: Developing Learning and Participation in Schools, Bristol: CSIE.  Many of the ideas in there can be transferred to the adult learner environment and even to eLearning.  I have to admit here that Kristine BH is my sister but all that means is that I read the book when it first came out 8 years ago and have used the teachings in it ever since.  After all, she is Senior Lecturer in Inclusive Education at Cambridge University so she should know what she is talking about.

The distinction between gamification and gaming is an important one. The goal is not to make a game, but to use elements of gaming to improve engagement levels within the learning. 

If you try to present a piece of learning as a game, there's a very good chance that you'll alienate your learners, because it sets up certain expectations. When these expectations are dashed, which they most likely will be if you have something like a multiple-choice quiz presented as a game, engagement levels will plummet and learners will feel disconnected.

However, if you put a couple of gaming elements (such as learning through failure, scoring, badgification) into a piece of learning without presenting it as anything other than learning, learners have more chance of being delighted and engaging more with the materials. 

It's really two things for me: firstly, using appropriate techniques that are driven by the learning content, rather than the techniques being forced upon the content; and secondly exceeding learner expectations by promising little and delivering lots. 

Badgification is another big issue.  Where learners may move within an industry rather than a company, traditional certificates become unusable as they may show a previous employer.  Badgification that can be placed on their linkedin profile and shown to prospective employers can be a big buy in for the learner.

That is one element of gamification that I have found learners want.  Its the WIIFIM principle.  Whats in it for me?  I have to undertake this training because my manager tells me to but what is in it for me personally?  How do I benefit?

I couldn't agree more. Achievements are always attractive, too - particularly to the 'collectors' and 'completists' of the world! I'm personally one of those people who always has to get three stars on a level of Angry Birds before I move on, and knowing that doing so gets me a trophy or a badge drives me on to do. I completely agree that this can be a powerful engagement tool for learning, too.

As has been pointed out here, there is definitely confusion around gamification and games or game based learning.

Game Based Learning is definitely being actively looked at as a serious training method. At the moment this appears to be done primarily in schools, which makes sense given the audience. However there are games already developed for corporations which look at how to build a game into training soft skills topics, like employee management. It seems the biggest barrier to this is the buy in from key stakeholders. Its difficult to prove ROI on something that you will really only see the benefit of over a longer period of time.


Gamification, as has been pointed out, is simply taking game elements, like scores, leader boards etc. This could be used in a beneficial way, but so far the evidence has shown that it has been horribly mis-handled, or the assumption is that it can automatically change a persons behaviour. Again, not a huge amount of evidence to show that it actually is beneficial outside of being used as a sales incentive. But as Elizabeth Baker pointed out, if used in the right way, as is already happening with clever teachers and trainers, using game elements can be very beneficial for the learner.

I recently completed a Cousera programme on Gamification by Kevin Werbach of Pennsylvania Uni. This gave me a better understanding of where the industry is right now. Beyond the hype you can do some pretty basic stuff to add game elements to your online courses. The difference I guess is more thinking about where a game would add cognitive and emotional value and engagement for your end learners. Some business type simulations naturally fall into that team based competitive spirit but even basic game elements, like different points for levels of contribution in our jive platform at work with levels given and scoreboards, have helped build social collaboration in my organisation.

Since I first posted here, I have been giving this topic a lot of thought.

Game based learning favours those who are time rich (as it should be set around multiple attempts to discover answers) and those who are Activists (as it centres on doing something in order to learn)

Where eLearning and online learning is often pushed is for time poor learners who need to fit learning into their schedule and need to work around other commitments.

For these people we have to demonstrate that there is something in it for them to undertake a learning experience that may take longer to gain full benefit than something they can click through in 5 minutes.  If I'm having to do this training then it's unlikely I opted to do it - it is more likely that it was compulsory (in some way) for me to take the learning and so I don't want to 'waste' my time on it.

You need to 'sell' this learning to these people.

For the non Activist, you have to ensure that you also provide learning material that appeals to them - fact sheets to download, further reading etc.

Just a thought

I don't think people learn anything much going through something once. If the learning is a 'tick the box' compliance requirement then yes; cover it in the shortest time possible. Make that box really easy to tick - it means nothing anyway since they will have forgotten the majority of it in a few days.

If I want someone to learn a skill or change their behaviour, then repetition and practice is key. Anything that encourages repetition will help form short, then long-term memories. Also the more we consider something and think about it from different angles, the more likely we are to remember it.

eLearning has been miss-sold for years as quick and easy. It then gets a bad name when people don't retain much of it or change their behaviour. 

Some really great points and discussion in this thread.  Gamification, for me anyway, should be about applying game based thinking and mechanics to learning as a means of challenging and motivating learners.  I also agree with Ivor that this can be done using some fairly simple methods.  I recently completed an MSc in Technology and Learning in Trinity College Dublin and Gamification was a central part of my dissertation.  I've attached it here in case it's of any interest or help in furthering the discussion.  






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