I want to learn about

When you say gamification

by Susan Dumas - August 15, 2014

This blog is about about gamification and what it could do for your organisation. Should you take it seriously, or is it just another passing fad? Our scalable LMS - learningCloud - includes a comprehensive authoring tool that makes it easy for non-designers to create their own gamified eLearning content

How well is gamification understood?

Our clients have been talking a lot lately about gamification solutions. New clients seem especially fed-up with the old style eLearning page turners. First of all, mobile learning was going to breathe a much needed spark into the eLearning industry. Now eLearning's younger cousin, gamification, seems to be muscling into the party. But the common thread is poorly designed, old-fashioned eLearning, which locks staff to their PC screens and their desks. Read our blog about how eLearning needs to change here.

So when our clients say that they want gamification, it immediately raises alarm bells with us.

Based on all of these conversations, here’s what we have discovered:

  • Gamification and what it can help with in learning is not well understood.
  • People use the word gamification to mean anything from simple quizzes with points and a leader board to old-style board games shoved  into an eLearning format, first person shooter games, arcade games, right through to virtual worlds and simulations.
  • Game-based learning and gamfication are two different things – and again, this is not widely understood.
  • Few mainstream eLearning companies are doing gamification well. Even if they do offer it, their solutions are prohibitively  expensive.
  • Traditional eLearning Designers or Instructional Designers are not well versed in using game mechanics.


We've also found that when you start to tease out and explain the elements of gamification to clients, you get insights into their business challenges. For example, many people associate leaderboards and competition with gamification. But when you ask clients how employees might feel if they were bottom of the leaderboard, you get some mixed reactions. Leaderboards aren’t the only way to think of games in learning - you can use game mechanics to encourage collaboration and co-operation rather than competition. But all of this needs to be analysed at the start of the project – start with the business challenge, not just simply a ‘cool’ game idea.

Gamification - a practical example and an authoring tool

One of our eLearning authoring tools - learningPlay has built in game mechanics, encouraging you to create challenge-based learning and collaborate with colleagues. Our latest Compliance course on Inclusion and Diversity is built using learningPlay.

Contact us for a demo of learningPlay 


Game mechanics


The real deal with gamification

 In 2012, Gartner said:

 “Gartner predicts that by 2014, 80 percent of current gamified applications will fail to meet business objectives primarily  because of poor design”

There has been a lot of discussion on this comment by Gartner – many don’t agree with the sentiment. You can read more about the views on gamification here. So yes you can argue that gamification perhaps so far hasn't hit the mark – certainly not within the eLearning industry.

But other industries are having more success. The health industry seems to be doing it better – think about the exercise challenge. Gadgets like Fitbits, Jawebone and Fuelband use gamification and social support to help people stay motivated. These ‘wearable’ devices are becoming more mainstream, and along with their gamified self-improvement incentives, they do seem to be making an impact. Perhaps we just need a FitBit to help us take breaks from our screens – oh the irony of sitting down, ploughing through a 30 minute online ergonomics course…

Getting a better understanding

The eLearning Guild’s 2013 research report: GAMIFICATION, GAMES, AND LEARNING: What Managers and Practitioners Need to Know. This is a great start for internal Learning & Development teams.

I've long been an admirer of Karl Kapp (@kkapp on Twitter), and his book – The 'Gamification Fieldbook' is also a great read. It is a very practical book and provides lots of tips, worksheets and templates to help you think through possible gamification projects.

Karl defines it as:

'Using game-based mechanics and game thinking to engage people, motivate action, promote learning, and solve problems.'

Let's play the game together

If putting the gaming punch into training is something your organisation has looked at but you aren't quite sure, we'd love to hear from you. Our learningPlay authoring tool offers gamificiation options, including the ability to set up challenges, rewards and collaboration projects. Why not contact us for a demo of learningPlay.


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