Play to Learn, Learn to Play: Understanding Gamification in Learning


Who doesn’t enjoy a little bit of game-fun? We all surely did in our younger days. As grown-ups, now, we do not find as many opportunities to indulge in some good-natured fun. But that’s not to say that we don’t enjoy ‘enjoying’! In the adult world, we have our dose of recreation/ fun/ enjoyment in the form of ‘gamification’. In fact, gamification has carved an important place for itself in several walks of corporate life and companies are fast incorporating it in various programs across different functions – from Marketing to L&D, and beyond!Look at these statistics to understand the power of gamification. According to some studies from 2017, “70% of top 2,000 companies were using gamification in some way.” Similarly, in a research on gamification by Pew Research Centre, “53% of those surveyed had said that by 2020, there will be significant advances in the adoption and use of gamification.” These numbers just go on to reiterate the importance of this element in many of our routine activities, including learning.But, first, let’s understand what gamification is.

What is Gamification?

Our favourite go-to source, Wikipedia, defines Gamification as “the application of typical elements of game playing (rules of play, point scoring, competition with others) to other areas of activity, specifically to engage users in problem solving.” A Brandon Hall Group study says that “gamification acts as a positive disruption, a game changer that has the potential to level up the digital learning process”.So this is how the idea of gamification broadly works: It involves taking key elements of games like action, design, fun and competitive spirit, and applying it through game mechanics such as points, badges and leaderboards to a non-game activity. Today, gamification is being regularly used in different organizations to promote better performance and boost superior results. And why not, considering it works such wonders for learning. In fact, a study done by the University of Colorado Denver Business School found that “people who trained on video games do their jobs better, have higher skills and retain information longer than workers learning in less interactive, more passive environments.”

Elements of Gamification

The Brandon Hall Group study breaks down the four basic components of gamification in an easy manner.

  • Understanding the goal or challenge: This involves first establishing what a person needs to accomplish to win.
  • Setting the obstacles: The next step is to understand the obstacles that need to be overcome to achieve the goal.
  • Mentioning the collectibles/rewards: These will be given as the participant overcomes obstacles.
  • Defining game rules: These are all about understanding the participant’s interaction with the game.

Gamification and Learning

In the recent past, gamification has fast emerged as an effective technique in the field of learning. It’s not being used in learning just for fun though, but is playing an important role in creating some serious learning. From induction and onboarding to skills enhancement and compliance, gamification is being increasingly used by L&D departments as a mode of training.Gamification is predominantly effective when used in online training or eLearning programs. Organizations have realised that they need to go that extra mile to grab the attention of their learners and ‘pull’ them to trainings rather than compel them to participate. Gamification has a host of paybacks for learning and L&D professionals are now fully leveraging them for employee trainings.1. It keeps learners engagedLearner engagement is one of the most important criteria of any learning. If the training focuses on very serious topics, gamification is a great way to grab the attention of learners and keep them engaged. It allows learners to interact with the environment and the game elements ensure that learners have something they can identify with and have fun as well.2. It improves knowledge retentionWhat is the use of a learning program if learners forget every single aspect of it once they leave the room? With gamification, since the process becomes fun, it elicits active participation from learners which means they are able to understand and retain the knowledge gained during the process. They may also be able to learn how to apply it in real life scenarios which helps better retention.3. It ensures success and completion of trainingGamification when designed in the right manner can go a long way in bringing out positive results through the training. It creates great impact and since learners are engaged, there are chances that they will voluntarily complete the training program rather than forcefully take it.

Gamification and LMS

Gamification in LMS is one of the best combinations that can boost learning interventions. Organizations can study their user groups thoroughly and then create a gamified strategy, involving the platform and the content, to engage their users. Also, this strategy needs to evolve continuously to challenge users from time to time. Combining game-based interaction with an LMS is one of the best bets for L&D departments to deliver meaningful learning/ training in an innovative way to drive results. Here’s how LMS and Gamification can go hand in hand.In conclusion, the power gamification in eLearning is immense to drive learning outcomes by engaging learners and ensuring they are able to apply the knowledge acquired trough trainings. And gamification done in the right way can actually transform a company’s eLearning strategy.To know how you can boost learner engagement and motivation by using an LMS, talk to us.