What’s happened to the gamification hype? Has gamification reached the peak of inflated expectations, has it fallen into the trough of disillusionment or has it reached the plateau of productivity as described by Gartner’s Hype Cycle (Nielson 2018)? Regardless of your own thoughts, our experience has been that gamification is still attractive and keeps getting discovered and adopted by new players.

Old hype or new interest?

In digital learning and other fields, gamification first emerged as a hype around the beginning of this decade. Gamification elements have been used in both general education and professional training to engage people, motivate action and improve quality and productivity.

Fig1. Simple gamified screens to promote explorative learning for children.

The topic is not new for CREALOGIX Digital Learning either. For several years, we have successfully designed and applied game elements to engage learners.

In fact, our financial crime prevention module developed in co-operation with UBS received an internationally renowned Brandon Hall Gold Award for its gamified design in 2017.

Fig2. Brandon Hall Gold Award Winning Financial Crime Prevention.

So, gamification is nothing new in learning. What we feel is new is a renewed interest in digital learning driven by the biggest hype of all, digitalisation. This has led to an unexpected benefit for corporate learning professionals: greater acceptance and funding for digital learning and an opportunity to try out gamified learning.

What is gamification exactly?

This is an interesting question and there are lots of definitions and interpretations. However, rather than getting bogged down in semantic debates, we prefer to use the following 3 circle diagram to encourage productive and stimulating discussions with our clients.

The first circle (Play) refers to the playful exploration of content through, for example, narratives, interesting visuals, interactions and explorative exercises.

The second circle (Game) refers to the introduction of gaming elements to the framework and progression of learning modules, for instance:

  • Timers or competition to create excitement and a playful sense of pressure
  • The collection of points or rewards to increase motivation
  • The tracking and display of progress to provide a feeling of development and reward

Fig3. 3 circles of gamification: Intersections of Play/Game/Simulation

The third circle (Simulation) refers to attempts at recreating life-like situations in a safe setting (e.g. in serious games).

Show this diagram to some of your colleagues or get in touch with us to discuss it in relation to your training needs. You might be surprised how easily it can trigger new ideas!

Intersections: Online/offline, learning/enjoying

We’re a technology company, but that doesn’t mean that gamification and learning have to happen solely online and we love the idea of using technology to stimulate real world actions much in the same way that “Pokemon Go” got hundreds of thousands of people moving around in the fresh air. We will show you an example of a treasure hunt below.

Our approaches still very much focus on learning. Of course, there are approaches that put gaming and enjoyment ahead of all learning objectives. We’ve tried some of these and we had lots of fun, but we fail to see the training advantages for business. I lost an unspeakable amount of time to such a game whilst researching for this article. It was fun, but the only thing I learned was that I get addicted easily.

How can it be applied?

There are many exciting test cases for gamification out there. Our clients are often very pragmatic and search for solutions that prioritise learning effect and cost over pure fun. Our three examples that follow reflect that.  We search for cost effective ways to bring gamification to our customers and have a few tricks up our sleeves that allow us to provide surprising results for the money that is invested.

Concept 1: Virtual Golf!

Here we aim to give the user the feeling of a classic golf simulator, complete with 3D figures demonstrating the success of each swing. There will however be no tapping of keys to ensure the perfect swing, the quality of the swing is instead determined by the quality of the answers you give to topic relevant questions.

Fig4. Golfing score board

Answer correctly and see your ball fly down the fairway. Provide a poor answer and you’ll end up in the sandpit, where questions get more difficult and your answers must be more precise. Receive feedback from your caddie and progress down the course aiming to complete each hole under par to successfully complete the golf/training course.

This solution delivers the learning content in a playful gamified way to entice even those that are not interested in golf.

Concept 2: Interactive branching stories

Take the role of a client advisor, react to client questions and complaints, and find out how the story unfolds at Starfish Bank depending on the choices you make. Not sure of the correct answer? Try out different combinations and face the consequences. It’s fun, safe and focusses on explorative learning.  It can also be developed using real examples to increase the simulation effect or with images instead of video for those with smaller budgets. Our testcase is produced using interactive video branching and is free to view for potential clients.

Fig5. Interactive branching story: Client advisor at Starfish Bank

Concept 3: Digital treasure hunt

Get out there! This concept is based on a similar one we designed for a client. QR codes or Bluetooth beacons can be used to create interactive treasure hunts where information via text, videos or animation can be called up or pushed to mobile devices as they encounter the beacon or QR code. These can be set up in your offices to introduce the function and future strategy of every department or can function as part of onboarding training for your factory’s machines. Either way, users collect badges for the completion of each learning nugget following their visit to each location. Create prizes for completion and add an extra challenge by hiding the QR codes and beacons.

Fig6. Digital treasure hunt

So there you are: three quick examples.  Interested in finding out more? Keen to meet us to brainstorm ideas for your business? Contact us here.

Further things to consider

Gamification doesn’t have to be an all or nothing thing. You can dip your toe in by introducing small elements of gamification into your existing learning. You may start with one of the circles in our diagram. Every business is different, and it’s important to understand the appetite and acceptance for gamified learning within your business and target group. This is where starting small or creating prototypes can be helpful for testing acceptability in your business before investing heavily in costly projects. But after that, you may want your gamification without frontiers…