Gamification was one of the hottest Buzzwords of 2013 and now wrapping up the first quarter of 2014 we see that the trend is still going strong. While many of us have heard the buzz around this concept how many of us know what Gamification is, how we implement it into our organizations, and if it works? Everyone talks about Gamification and while many of you are very comfortable with the topic and have a great understanding of it there are still many who can use a bit more data.
What is Gamification?
The term Gamification has been used for a variety of concepts and is often used interchangeably with game based education, game based training, serious games, or game based learning.
While all of these items do include elements of Gamification they are not what the learning industry mean by Gamification. Gamification is not about adding video games to your learning material. It is not about adding scenarios to your learning objects. While these strategies can be fun and are certainly effective (and in a micromodel are an implementation of Gamification elements) they miss the core concept behind Gamification within a learning department.
Gamification is the process of adding motivational elements within a learning framework or system to increase user engagement based upon sound game theory and game mechanics. In easier terms it takes a systematic approach to those old rewards and recognition programs but adds a more fundamental human incentive layer to it and provides an effective framework for motivation. In even simpler terms it means leader boards, badges, high scores, and competitions with announcements of winners. Winners get prizes and tangible rewards for doing good work in a safely competitive environment.
How do we Implement Gamification within our organization?
Implementing Gamification within your organization can be a tricky proposition. Many times just getting the eLearning system adopted within the organization is enough of a challenge, now you want to make your employees play Games. Well, fortunately, adding a Gamified System to your eLearning infrastructure is usually a much easier sell than it used to be and it certainly is not just about playing games. If you can help your employees enjoy what they do even a little bit then you should reap rewards. Motivation and Game Theory have long been positively explored in Academia (I’m happy to share articles if anyone is interested). If you already have a good set of organizational and learning objectives aligned to your training program, setting up a Gamified learning-environment is a snap. The main concepts are to run your competitions against your performance objectives or learning goals or KPIs and to make sure that you set the pace of competition and have the top performers proudly displayed in a Leader board. Also make sure that you reward your participants, even the ones who are struggling in comparison to the others, the powers of positive motivation should not be underestimated (especially if you can implement a helper or mentor badging system). In Gamified platforms Badges combined with Points make up the vast majority of reward systems, however, many organizations have taken this one step further and included tangible items that participants can trade in their points for.
Does Gamification Work?
This is an organizational culture question. It really depends on how you implement the process within your organization. If implemented well with solid and easy to use technology, good consultants, and best practices in place it works great and motivates learners to really get involved on their own. If thrown together or implemented without thought and deliberation it can alienate employees, make learning a chore, and create a negatively competitive environment.
The literature does indicate many positive reasons for including Gamification within your system but there are some hurdles that should be solved before jumping in and investing in a Gamified solution. The main issues stem around the lack of planning and having well thought out ideas or competitions, dealing with a learning community that is not motivated by gaming, or implementing a system that doesn’t go beyond just “a recognition engine”. While each of these elements can be easily dealt with to run a successful Gamification campaign they do need to be addressed and an action plan should be built to deal with both successes and setbacks.
Gamification can be a powerful tool within your learning and development arsenal, however, be wary of leaping before you look. Gather good data, talk to experts, and begin with some small pilots to see what works for your work culture. Digital Natives and 21st Century Learners are becoming the new leaders of today’s workforce. Identifying learning and skills development strategies that are easy to relate to within a technologically familiar environment is paramount for a successful Human Resources or Training department. Gamification is a great starting place.
Docebo LMS version 6.3 comes with Gamification and other Social Learning features and apps – if you’d like to check out these features in action, sign up for a free 14-day trial!
Josh Squires is currently serving as the Chief Operating Officer of Docebo EMEA. Josh has spent the past 15 years researching and implementing creative learning solutions within corporate and higher education environments. With clients ranging from Motorola to Disney, he has been on the designing and implementing stage of a wide range of learning scenarios with customers spanning the globe. Josh has also taught Instructional Technology theory and tools as a consultant and faculty member for over 8 years in both Corporate and Higher Education environments.